A deal has now been agreed between Boris Johnson’s minority Government and the negotiators on behalf of the EU. It is still unclear whether this deal will pass through the British Parliament. We should remember that Theresa May’s deal with the EU was put to the British parliament three times and failed to get approval. It seems to be the case that the DUP are saying “No” to this deal and it is still not clear if Brexit will take place or what type of Brexit it will be.
What is clear is that the deal being pursued by Johnson, and the deal which his predecessor Theresa May failed to get done, is a hard Brexit. Nobody should be under any illusions that the Brexiteers are making compromises or softening their stance in any way. Brexit is a means by which they will initiate a race to the bottom on regulation, food standards, and workers’ rights, and Europe will continue its neo-liberal agenda. Brexit is a thoroughly reactionary Tory agenda to turn Britain into a Singapore off the coast of Europe. It will be a disaster for working people.
The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn are absolutely correct in opposing this reactionary Tory scheme. I just heard on the radio a half an hour ago that Deputy Howlin is going into a meeting in Europe to try to convince Jeremy Corbyn to accept the deal. The only possibility of avoiding no deal or a hard Brexit is a British general election with, it is to be hoped, the Labour Party being elected. The Labour Party has committed to negotiating a soft Brexit, with the UK staying within the Single Market and customs union. It is prepared to put that deal or the option to remain to a popular vote. To see the right-wing media, including the BBC, trying to pretend that they do not know the position of Labour Party is farcical. It has clearly said that it would negotiate a soft Brexit and put it to a vote. For the people in this country, North and South, the position of the British Labour Party is the best option we can hope for.
Having made these points, I certainly do not regard the European Union as any sort of workers paradise and I sincerely hope for a left Labour Government in Britain that can raise the banner over Europe for the many and not for the few, and initiate a cross-EU movement to reverse neo-liberal policies.
Trillions of euro have been made available to bail out the banks and prop up the bond markets, money that has, by and large, ended up in property and other forms of speculation. What if these trillions had been invested across Europe in public housing, public health, public transport, other public services, an effective climate change plan, and full employment with a four-day week, a living wage, state pensions, and a welfare payment to keep people out of poverty? Would the Tánaiste agree that whatever comes out of this situation, whether is no deal or a hard or soft Brexit, we can move on then to discuss how to build a better and more democratic future for the people of Europe?