Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Last Stand of the pro-Brexit Left, “Brexit could have meant more than this” Socialist Worker.

with 12 comments

Non, Je ne regrette rein.

In his Tour d’ivoire an elderly Mandarin takes a Hittite tablet from his shelves. Reading the cuneiform he smiles at the clumsy use of the ergative case and puts it back. Ten centimetre long finger-nails grasp a porcelain cup of Darjeeling. Perry Anderson turns to his latest works.

The modern Montaigne marvels at the magniloquent phrases, the elegance of the periodic style. The enemy, Perry reflects, is just what the elites of Europe themselves decry and fear most: ‘populism’. His majordome brings a wafer biscuit. Europe’s most gefeiert Marxist pauses. How true, how very veritable, “But what would Brexit actually mean for the European Union, or for Ukania in parting with it? So far, all that was clear was that ‘Blairized Britain has taken a hit, as has the Hayekianized eu’ and ‘critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it’, against which the entire global establishment had inveighed.”

He winds up the gramophone and puts an Édith Piaf disc on. A delicious reverie begins,

These apparatus must be broken as organised institutions for any revolutionary transfer of power to occur. This can only be achieved by the creation of a organs of socialist democracy, mobilising a popular force capable of undermining the unity of the coercive unity of the established state, and cancelling the legitimacy of of its parliamentary machinery….The emergence of such forms of second power, incarnating the sovereignty of a proletarian democracy alternative and antagonistic to that of bourgeois democracy must be the long term of the socialist movement. (Arguments Within English Marxism. Perry Anderson. 1980)  (1)

Socialist Worker has also entered the land of dreams.

Brexit could have meant more than this

The feeling against the elites could have led to a Brexit in the interests of working class people. 

That would have broken from the pro-business single market regime but maintained and extended workers’ freedom of movement.

It would have been linked to more money for the NHS and education, a higher minimum wage, action on climate chaos and other issues. This is what supporters of a left exit from the EU (Lexit) argued. To win such a Brexit would have required mass pressure. 


Instead the Tories have come up with various versions of Brexit designed to make it even easier for the bosses to exploit people.

So unforeseen…..

One chap who like his peer, Perry Anderson, regrets rein, is now the darling of the Express.

GEORGE GALLOWAY has demanded a clean break from the “fading, failing EU” as Brexit trade deal negotiations were extended until the end of the weekend

“The sun is rising in the East. I want to set sail for there. Brexit Now!”

The former Labour MP, who said he supported the Brexit Party at last year’s European elections, has been a vocal critic of the time the trade negotiations between Britain and the EU have taken.

One of his supporters tweeted: “I agree. Clean break then negotiate a Free Trade Agreement as a truly independent nation.”

Mr Galloway’s calls for a clean break come as Ms von der Leyen admitted it will now be “difficult” to reach a post-Brexit trade agreement as she ordered officials to step up no deal planning.

Here is one group that takes a different view:



(1) Perry Anderson. Ukania Perpetua. New Left Review. 2/125. Sept/Oct 2000.

The European Coup Perry Anderson  London Review of Books Vol. 42 No. 24 · 17 December 2020

Pages 194 – 195. Arguments Within English Marxism. Perry Anderson. Verso. 1980.

12 Responses

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  1. OK, explain how, step by step, the EU is going to be transformed into an instrument for building socialist economies in each of the EU states and how you are going to deal with the state apparatus in each of these entities and, in passing, give m an idea of whether or not you think this is possible with the EU’s partnership agreements with NATO.
    Asking for a friend.

    Nick Wright

    December 11, 2020 at 11:43 am

    • Yes, how will the EU be transformed. that is a legitimate question. I would suggest building progressive alliances across the continent. Demanding a progressive stimulus package, etc. etc. A ongoing debate on how to do this is necessary. But important as that is, the whole Brexit affair was and is a cul de sac for a progressive movement. A Marxist once said “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”. To make a slight change “There is no Lexit clause”.
      You mention Nato, are you implying that Brexit is in some way about Nato? Again a pan EU movement against Nato is important.
      The Spiked lot have followed the logic of Brexit/Lexit into the right of the Tory party.
      It would be nice to have a clearcut choice with socialism as an option. In the meantime, alas, we have to choose between frying pans and fire. I would suggest that while Brexit is not exactly a fire, it is worse than the EU, warts and all. Just one example, the ratcheting up of anti-migrant fervour.

      Jim Monaghan

      December 11, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    • Well, for starters, see the views o this, and the importance of upholding and developing the EU Social Model from the ETUC – which covers, I assume, Trade Unions under the leadership of local CP’s or former CP’s. Useful stuff here. https://www.etuc.org/en/european-social-model#:~:text=The%20European%20Social%20Model%20is%20an%20example%20for,and%20social%20protection%20combat%20poverty%20and%20social%20exclusion.

      david walsh

      December 11, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    • Nick: explain how the racism and xenophobia that you and your Stalinist chums encouraged, helps socialism in any shape or form. And, while you’re at it, “comrade” explain to the many workers in the auto industry, how losing their jobs will be a price worth paying for the great socialist prize of regaining national sovereignty?

      Jim Denham

      December 11, 2020 at 7:30 pm

  2. It was always bleedin obvious that the Right would have a Brexit that favours the bosses and not the workers! Did anyone in their right mind ever think for a moment that the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Farrage, would have our best interests at heart? Of course not! Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas…


    December 11, 2020 at 4:39 pm

  3. The SW article you link to is typical of that shower’s opportunism and incoherence: Labour should have supported ‘Brexit’ in the referendum, but it’s now a betrayal for Starmer to vote in favour of … Brexit. At least Nick Wright’s ‘Morning Star’: they’ve supported Johnson’s Tory Brexit throughout.

    Jim Denham

    December 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    • It’s in the great class of “things that never happened and never would.”

      Nick Wright thinks that (1) Leaving the EU is a precondition for creating a socialist Britain, which is a project that can be accomplished with the nation and without the working class but by using sovereignty to legislate for a British Road to Socialism. (2) This contrats with the Marxist view, “The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.” “National differences and antagonism between peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto. The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster. United action, of the leading civilised countries at least, is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.” (3) The remains of the AES strategy and the Socialist Challenge, (Stuart Holland) advanced by the CPB and other Lexiteers, had not only little economic credibility but absolutely no connection to economic reality in a globalised world.

      Andrew Coates

      December 11, 2020 at 9:28 pm

  4. Let’s just recall that the Communist Party of Britain support a WTO Brexit (ie No Deal) and the idea of a “Smart Border” on the island of Ireland which they argue would mean no hard border.

    Not only would I dispute that a technological solution (eg number plate recognition) Smart Border would mean no hard border, it would lead to an extension of the surveillance (British) state on the border between pro-EU Ireland and pro-Remain Northern Ireland. This would not be a good option to try and lessen tensions between nationalists and unionists to put it mildly.

    Details here-

    View at Medium.com

    John Rogan

    December 13, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    • Excellent article John, one that really stands out.

      “What exactly do the CPB and LeFT mean by a “People’s Brexit” though? They stated it clearly here — “ ‘Britain should leave the EU on WTO [World Trade Organisation] terms’, Communists propose.” (28 January 2019). A “WTOBrexit” is also known as “No Deal Brexit” as it is how we will trade with the EU if we leave without a deal on 31 October. The CPB have opposed all Article 50 extensions and continue to do so. Their vision of how the Irish border would operate after leaving the EU is on World Trade Organisation terms,”

      Andrew Coates

      December 13, 2020 at 5:46 pm

  5. Britain will do a Brexit deal on Europe’s terms, Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, December 15 2020
    A correspondent, Gregor Benton, asks : “War at sea? Johnson should think twice about what he pretends to wish for”.

    Johnny Foreigner is not frightened.

    Mr Johnson insists that the UK and the EU are “sovereign equals” but, as long as the EU maintains its unity, they are not equals in terms of power. And that is what has mattered in these negotiations. It is why Britain has made a series of painful concessions over the past four years – most notably by agreeing a separate status for Northern Ireland, which will see customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, effectively dividing the United Kingdom

    Gideon Rachman, Financial Times (See Above)
    A few questions : If the British Navy attacks French Fishery Vessels 🚢 in the seas of Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 what will Admiral Macron do? Turn the other cheek? Grin and Bear It? Impose punitive tariffs on Scottish Fish 🐠 intended for tummies in France 🇫🇷? 80 per cent of fish 🎣 caught in seas “owned” by the British State currently are exported to the European Union, I am informed. The fish companies will quickly have warehouses full of unprofitable food. The Brexiteer capitalists could, we guess, dump the fish after a few months into the gullets of starving Brits for free. Is this the “Oven-Ready Brexit” promised by Chef Boris?

    Boris Johnson’s Brexiteers are like cornered rats – so far they are throwing shapes at the EU crafty cats, Ursula of Germany and Michel of France. If Boris is only a play-acting jingo admiral, more passengers on board the doomed tory Titanic will jump ship. Warning signs are already flashing – Brexit is rejected by large majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland. But what if desperate gambler Boris goes for broke, and attempts a repeat of something like his hero Margaret Thatcher’s Falkland Islands adventure? That’s unlikely, but good strategists plan for possible futures, including the improbable ones.

    What should the left in Ireland and Britain say and do? It is a no-brainer :

    “”I can’t imagine any Brexit deal emerging that will protect the jobs and livelihoods of my constituents, that will protect our rights and the environment. I believe Labour should have nothing to do with this Tory deal and vote against it”. British Labour MP John McDonnell. https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/12/15/britain-will-do-a-brexit-deal-on-europes-terms-v-gunboat-diplomacy-squashing-johnny-foreigner/


    December 15, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    • Useful summary tomasoflatharta.

      It’s pretty obvious that the Morning Star couldn’t care less about trifles like the reports you cite…

      Andrew Coates

      December 15, 2020 at 6:22 pm

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