Parliament has put Boris Johnson in a ditch but he is far from dead. Opposition parties led by Jeremy Corbyn have exposed the hypocrisy and holes, lies and deceits at the heart of the Prime Minister’s revamped deal with the European Union.
Significantly it keeps Northern Ireland in the customs union, with a border in the Irish Sea – something Johnson vowed never to do – and pushes the DUP under a bus in the process. Furthermore the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) removes worker’s rights, consumer protections and environmental standards from the Treaty, relocating them in the legally non-binding Political Agreement. Labour has rightly said this deal is worse than the May deal: this brings shame on the 19 Labour MPs who voted for it and for an accelerated three-day debate.
With an extension to Article 50 secured, Labour now goes into a general election against a government comprised of the Tories’ hard right. As Don Flynn explains, the expulsion of 21 one-nation Tory MPs represents a fundamental shift to a national populist regime. Duncan Bowie’s survey of Tory divisions going back to the days of Peel and the Corn Laws indicates this is the most significant split in the Tory Party in over 100 years.
The nationalist populist drum-beat against the courts, parliament and Europe will grow and lies behind the rise in race hate crime associated with Brexit-supporting Tories. Hassan Hoque explores the little reported and unchecked growth of Islamophobia inside the Tory Party where no promised independent inquiry has occurred. Andrew Coates exposes the ideological roots of extreme right populism which underpin the rise of Farage, Le Pen, Salvini, Trump and other authoritarian demagogues.
Labour’s Brighton conference committed the party to campaign for a People’s Vote, with John McDonnell and other shadow ministers speaking out at the million-strong PV march on 19th October. This should now be a priority. A confirmatory vote with a Remain alternative is the best way to resolve the impasse and create a clearer space for Labour to unfold its popular democratic socialist programme for economic, social and environmental recovery after ten years of Tory austerity, cuts and division.
While Peter Kenyon reflects on lessons of the Brexit battles, Laura Parker and Julie Ward MEP make clear that Labour must make a positive case for Europe – in both a referendum and during this general election. We are an internationalist party. Unlike the campaign of 2016 our focus must be on the benefits of working through the EU: benefits for peace and security, benefits for jobs and frictionless trade, benefits for free movement and travel, benefits for science education, arts and welfare. Above all cross-national cooperation is the only effective way to deal with corporate tax dodgers and the climate-environmental emergency.
The threat to Labour is clear. Johnson and co are seeking to rebrand the Tory Party with an end to austerity. Sajid Javid’s spending review and budget plans are unashamed electioneering bribes. Dennis Leech explains that the policies behind the discovery of the magic money tree, so elusive for Theresa May, are based on a number of economic myths. Labour must expose the inadequacy and hypocrisy of the uncosted promises.
Extinction Rebellion and student protests have pushed the threat of human-made global heating up the agenda. Nigel Doggett takes a closer look at the achievements and weaknesses of XR.
Internationally we have seen protests grow against oppressive regimes, most notably in Hong Kong against a puppet regime under a tyrannical Chinese Communist Party. Denis Wong explains how the street protests for democratic liberties started and why they will continue.
Elsewhere Donald Trump’s maverick foreign policy has given a green light for Turkey’s authoritarian President Erdogan to launch a military assault in Northern Syria against Kurdish forces. Mary Southcott reports on the consequences with a more detailed historical look at the evolution of the Turkish state since Ottomanism.
Labour faces a huge challenge to build support across the UK in the face of unfavourable opinion polls. England is split with a number of Northern and Midlands Labour seats vulnerable to rightist populist siren calls. If the Brexit Party challenges the Tories, Labour could reprise the Peterborough by-election win, but certainly not in other parts of the UK, especially Scotland. Gerry Hassan dissects the rise of the Scottish National party and the fall of Labour. The departure of ‘liberal’ Ruth Davidson damages the Tories’ prospects but Scottish Labour needs to embrace a more radical devolution case and keep open the door to a second Indy ref.
Elsewhere Labour has to make its case for an international recovery programme based on sustainable development—the Green New Deal is a good basis, with investment, taxation and borrowing to fund its ambitious redistributive programme.
We need to expose the myth of ‘Getting Brexit Done’. Exit would take years while the British economy sinks further under the weight of drawn out negotiations on trade deals with the likes of ‘America First’ Trump and entanglement in new structures for tighter borders and protectionism.
Labour has an attractive alternative vision of a new society based on equality, social justice, sustainable wealth creation, redistribution from rich to poorer and international cooperation. It’s called democratic socialism. Whether a referendum or general election comes Labour should ready itself to mobilise its half-million members and supporters across the labour movement to fight the campaign of our lives. The stakes could not be higher.