Halloween approaches. The options: a no deal crash out of the EU or some tinsel on May’s deal around the Ireland backstop. The latter looks unlikely with top EU heads of state Merkel and Macron standing by their man in Ireland and by the Good Friday Agreement that has helped keep the peace for 20 years.
Johnson has no parliamentary majority for a no deal. Perhaps upwards of 40 Tory MPs could break with the government to reject a crash out. John Bercow the speaker will allow time for parliament to discuss alternatives to no deal.
Any Brexit will be bad: that’s why Labour’s embrace of a further referendum with backing for a remain option is welcome, while fuzziness on a possible Labour Brexit is not.
We know from leaked Operation Yellowhammer that the consequences of no deal will be horrendous. Medicines supply interrupted; no chemicals to treat water supplies; fresh food shortages; ports chaos for three months then only a 50% restoration of service; food riots; sterling plunging even further and banks disrupted; closure of oil refineries, strikes and fuel shortages; care homes closing within months; civil unrest around Ireland’s border; embassies besieged by expats with visa and passport problems: the list goes on. This is not Project Fear but the government’s own civil service contingencies’ team report.
This is Project Reality. An unnecessary but ideological hard-right drive to create chaos out of which the state can be shrunk, taxes on the rich further cut and living standards and human rights further eroded. Then there is the no deal contingency to waste over £10 billion that could be spent on our hard-pressed hospitals, schools and local services. Mr Johnson has found a magic money tree after all. The cost will be paid for by working people.
Another feature of this right-wing demolition job is the further tightening of restrictions on migrants and refugees. As Don Flynn reports, new hard-line Home Secretary Priti Patel is intent on scrapping EU free movement on day one and worsening an already hostile environment. Existing EU workers in Britain, like doctors and nurses, will face restrictions on travelling back to work and families could be separated. Wendy Pettifer highlights the cold-hearted position of the government regarding children and the abdication of responsibility for refugees fleeing war and oppression.
Nick Dearden further sets out a chilling prospectus offered by the free-market deregulators now running the ship of state. When and if they get the chance for a UK-US trade deal consequences for our food and health and safety standards will be dire. The NHS will be further exposed to rapacious profit-seeking Big Pharma companies while any number of public services will be vulnerable to privatisation. TTIP will seem as nothing in comparison.
Alena Ivanova sets out the challenge in rebutting the argument that Labour MPs in Leave-voting seats need to backpedal on Labour’s policy of remain and reform. The ground for any further equivocation has disappeared. In an imminent General Election, Brexit and in or out of Europe will be the dominant theme. Voters will want to know Labour’s stance. This has to be that the prosperity and security of British people lies in critical cooperation within the EU. Our anti-austerity messages, our Green Deal, our investment plans for jobs and economic development must be cast in a European framework.
Alex Sobel MP believes Labour has now moved to a more settled position on remain in a referendum or General Election. What is clear is that the party needs to move on to a war footing. Campaigning should intensify in every constituency, every region, town and village. This is one of Simon Hannah’s key messages for longer term success.
Labour could be on the cusp of government. In this edition Chartist carries a supplement on policy initiatives for the first phase. We have picked some key areas covering Europe, education, transport, local government, pensions, taxation and economic policy, workplace democracy and the environment. Some areas are works in progress for Labour. But this policy work and campaigning must go hand in hand.
Labour has committed parliament to recognising the climate emergency. Alongside Brexit this is the other mammoth issue threatening our health and wellbeing. Nigel Doggett welcomes Labour’s Green Deal while setting out additional proposals. Cat Smith MP highlights the damage that the Tory green light for fracking is causing in Lancashire. Over the pond Paul Garver argues that in defeating the incumbent climate denier, racist, misogynist, authoritarian Trump regime requires opposition Democrats to diverge from the failed Clinton path of 2016. The ‘Squad’ of four left-wing Democrat women of colour offers some inspiring examples of a new way.
In the UK, mobilising and energising Labour’s army of half a million-plus members will be central to success in the election. Labour will face a media red scare onslaught against Corbyn, McDonnell, Abbott and team. But the policies of the 2017 manifesto and those we are outlining are designed to implement a radical shift of wealth and power to the many, while the Johnson plan aims to enrich the few and deepen social, regional and national divisions. Love Socialism, Hate Brexit could be the leitmotif of Labour’s campaigning. Many thousands of Labour members have demonstrated to put Brexit back to the people. Whatever the outcome of Johnson’s shenanigans, we the people must have a say.