Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

On Brexit and the Left.

with 10 comments

Image result for trump and may Brexit cartoon

People’s Brexit…

The Guardian reports,

The government does not have “a blank cheque” to push through its vision of Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has said, despite the overwhelming Commons vote to pass the article 50 bill without a single amendment.

The Labour leader insisted there was little his party could have done about the bill, given its limited scope, but said he would continue to push for concessions and changes as the Brexit process continued.

“There was a referendum,” he told BBC1’s Breakfast programme. “There was a decision by the people of this country and we support the result of the referendum, and have to carry it out.

“It doesn’t mean we agree with the government on the economy for the future. It does mean we have to build good relations with everybody across Europe.

Then there is this,

Clive Lewis, the leftwing shadow business secretary, has resigned from the shadow cabinet to vote against article 50 at third reading. He was the fourth shadow cabinet minister to resign on this issue. His move will intensify speculation that he sees himself as a candidate in a future Labour leadership election, particularly because Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to order his MPs to back the bill has angered many of the party’s activists.

Brexit is a huge blow to progressive causes in the UK. Having been touted as a referendum on leaving the EU, the politics of UKIP and sections of the media turned it into a referendum on migration. The result was a resounding vote against migration and against further integration with Europe on a political, social and economic level.

Brexit has not just lead to “carnival of reaction” but is a defeat for the collectivist project of creating a social Europe, a transformed European Union.

Given that there was “little” that could have been “done about the Bill” many will sympathise with Clive Lewis: there is no reason to stand with the forces of the right and vote the Tories’ bill in.

Others will point to Donald Trump’s praise for Brexit, a “smart” move that could lead to the -welcome – “unravelling of the EU”..

Morning Star supporter Nick Wright asserts (Trump and Brexit) that,

Like Brexit, Trump’s victory represents the breakdown of the established order. Like Brexit it was a defeat for the main centres of capitalist power.

This is far from the truth.

Capitalist power is being configured, and the last thing these ‘victories’ indicate is a “defeat” for finance and business.

Trade Deals with the USA will be based on terms set down by Washington, opening up the UK to their products, their lower environmental standards, and public markets to their companies, already interested in the NHS.

The Tories, high from their success at the Parliamentary vote, will be free to weaken all EU social and environmental legislation.

If there was “little” that can be done in Parliament to stop the Brexit Bill, as Corbyn says,  there will be little effectively done to halt these measures.

This is just bravura and wishful thinking:

“Good relations” and other warm words will not stop the building of barriers with Continental Europe.

The “kick up the backside” welcomed by Tariq Ali, has turned into a kick start to the anti-EU populist far-right, from Marine Le Pen’s Front National, the Alternative für Deutschland,  to Geert Wilders’ Partij voor de Vrijheid.

In these conditions the last thing many will want to hear is the advice of  the Brexit left, the supporters of a “People’s Brexit” who have fueled the rightward turn.

Many will find that attempts to avoid the issues this raises, and channel popular hostility against Trump into a new ‘movement’ Stand up to Trump that everybody on the left can support, ring hollow.

We have our own reactionaries to deal with: the Brexit supporters.

There is no People’s Brexit, outside of their rhetoric.

There is one Brexit: the Carnival of Reaction.

The real issue is to build a truly internationalist left that breaks with the Brexiters of all stripes.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

10 Responses

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  1. The Trump visit has been a welcome displacement activity for many on the left, allowing them to dodge real questions on where they stand on Brexit.

    david walsh

    February 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm

  2. Jeremy Corbyn is a Brexit supporter. Always has been. He did more to get Article 50 passed in parliament with Labour votes than he did to stop Brexit in the Remain campaign.


    February 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

  3. David you are absolutely right.

    You can almost physically feel the warm glow of righteous indignation that they’ve got about it…

    Rgar the People’s Assembly against Austerity (????) and the Stop the War Coalition are heavily involved in the organising meeting for the Stand up to Trump campaign, that is, the rump around Brexit backing, Counterfire, shows that in an instant.

    People’s War, whatever Corbyn’s views on Brexit he campaigned for Remain.

    The point now is that he is not speaking out for those of us who campaigned (yes campaigned) for Remain, the crushing majority of the Labour Party who supported Remain, the majority of Labour voters who cast their ballots for Remain, and for the wider left and liberal Remain camp in the country.

    Andrew Coates

    February 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

  4. This article is excellent and sums up the situation in a nutshell.

    I think we still having seen how this will all pan out over the next few years. As we start to see what the economic consequences of Brexit will be, then the political volatility will heighten and not necessarily in a good way.

    Labour now has to try and come up with a convincing Hard Brexit economic policy after giving unconditional support to Article 50. That’ll be hard (impossible?) as thousands of jobs and tax revenues start heading to the EU27, especially banking.

    It is difficult to see anything good coming out of this in the long term. The pound devaluing will help those companies paid in dollars and euros to increase their share price and may even help exports. This’ll help give Leave propaganda that Brexit will “Make Britain Great Again” only because, in the meantime, we haven’t left the EU to sell stuff too.

    After we do, of course, that’s when the crutch will come and the search for the enemies within will start.

    John Rogan

    February 9, 2017 at 7:34 pm

  5. Corbyn supported Remain the way a rope supports a hanged man. Even the Economist picked up on this:

    “Mr Corbyn did not make his first pro-EU intervention until mid-April, fully two months after Mr Cameron called the referendum. Since then he has been a bit player at best. When researchers at Loughborough University ranked the ten most reported-on politicians in the second half of May, he did not even make the list (partly by his own design: he had spent part of the period on holiday). By refusing to campaign alongside Tories—doing so would “discredit” the party, sniffs John McDonnell, his shadow chancellor—he has ruled himself out of every important Remain event and televised debate.

    “When Mr Corbyn does bother to intervene, he is a study in reluctance. His ‘pro-EU’ speeches are litanies of complaints about the union. Voters should back Remain, he says, because the Conservatives would not negotiate the right sort of Brexit. On June 2nd he declared Treasury warnings about the consequences of leaving as ‘hysterical hype’ and ‘mythmaking’.”

    You write: “The point now is that he is not speaking out for those of us who campaigned (yes campaigned) for Remain, the crushing majority of the Labour Party who supported Remain, the majority of Labour voters who cast their ballots for Remain, and for the wider left and liberal Remain camp in the country.”

    No, the point is Corbyn threatened the principled Remain MPs with a three-line whip in the article 50 vote which is far, far worse than ‘not speaking out.’


    February 10, 2017 at 7:03 pm

  6. What are the chances of deselection these scumbags Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Graham Stringer and Gisela Stuart, Labour MPs who voted against basic rights for EU citizens? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-bill-full-list-mps-voted-against-guaranteeing-eu-citizens-rights-article-50-a7570421.html

    Jim Denham

    February 10, 2017 at 11:57 pm

  7. Deselection? They should be tarred and feathered.

    Gisela Stuart’s hypocrisy in particular is breathtaking. Not simply because she’s German, but because she was busy tweeting about preserving the rights of EU citizens was her big priority on the very day she voted against an amendment designed to do just that.

    The woman is an actual turd.


    February 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm

  8. @pplswar –

    Personally, Id like to see Corbyn make way for a more competent candidate, and the 3 line whip was an idiotic idea. That said, if you believe that there were more than a handful of “principled Remainers” whose vote was swayed by the whip then you’re delusional. The right of the party’s general Brexit position is very similar to that of Corbyn (they also tend to be the most “genuinely concerned” about immigration). The vast majority of Labour MPs would have had very little to lose voting against the whip, it’s not like they’re desperate for shadow ministerial jobs at present. For the most part they would have voted out of fear of the Brexit media and their Brexiter constituents.


    February 11, 2017 at 12:15 pm

  9. At the moment?


    Andrew Coates

    February 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm

  10. What precisely was Corbyn’s EU position, at least on the surface of his campaign? It would seem to be a kind of Lexit without the exit. Stay in and reform, hook up with those socialist and democratic forces in the EU, is that such a bad thing? He was also honest about his position too, as he couldn’t force himself to pretend he adores it, yet at the same time he expressed a desire to remain, at least on the surface. What was bad was how he went about making the case (or was advised) and today how he doesn’t question the referendum itself, its results, “the will of the people”, the way it was conducted and also distinguish the Lexit criticism from the far-right enough.

    The criticisms of the EU as found in the Lexit position, what is wrong with them if they are took into reforming the EU within it? There are certain things which are in need of reform, like the imbalance towards libertarian capitalist practises. Where Lexit goes wrong is to not criticise within the EU but thinking exiting it is ok to leave along with the right-wing, due to the criticism of it. I would also suggest it to be counterproductive to conflate Brexit with Lexit, and portray Corbyn as some secret Brexiteer (he, if a secret leaver is rather a Lexiteer) or argue like the BBC does that there is no difference between the Labour Party and the Conservatives. There is. There even seems to be a difference in the remain positions within Labour as well, some like the Blairite tolerance of third positionism, some lukewarm in regards to reform of the EU too, some less lukewarm. I think Lexit without the exit position, is a stronger criticism, and this would be better placed within the Labour-EU relations within the EU, in cooperation with other Labour, Socialist and Democratic forces in the EU in my opinion. This is what I am currently thinking, although open to change if such a position reveals itself as weak that is as I no expert on the entire gamut of EU criticism in Lexit an what its origins are either, but am thinking along these lines.

    Great blog, Tendance, thanks.


    July 21, 2017 at 10:13 pm

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