Left Unity statement on EU (Future Relationship) Bill

Today the UK parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of Boris Johnson’s Brexit ‘deal’. Britain now enters the latest stage of the four decade-long drive for deregulation, free-marketisation and the privatisation of what remains of Britain’s welfare state. The government will move to sell off our NHS and further erode our hard-won rights and protections. It will attempt to boost the UK’s failing economy – already impacted badly by the 2016 referendum decision – by making Britain a tax and regulation-free base for foreign multinationals. But far from enabling Britain to experience a national revival unhindered by Brussels red-tape, as the hype goes, every economic sector will be disadvantaged by Brexit.

The impact on the working class will be disastrous and will pile further misery on those already struggling with the pandemic, poverty and unemployment, without adequate social support. Far from giving us back our freedom, with Brexit we will lose or see reductions in valuable rights and protections: free movement; limits to the working week; health, safety and environmental protections; science funding; freedom of educational movement via the Erasmus scheme; and regional and social subsidies.

The anticipated end of free movement has already had a negative impact on our society and economy since the referendum outcome in 2016, with a sharp drop in net EU immigration and this will continue to fall. We will all be poorer without the diverse communities that have contributed so much, culturally and socially to our society, as well as economically. The great Brexit lie, that immigration made us poorer, was always false: immigrants, whether from the EU or beyond, have contributed more to the UK economy than they have taken out of it. Their work has been invaluable to our society on so many levels.

Brexit was driven by the far right and we are now seeing their agenda play out. Brexit is not ‘over’ and it will continue to dominate British politics for years to come. The centre of mainstream politics has moved rightwards, bringing an upsurge in racism, Islamophobia, and anti-migrant sentiment. The Labour Party leadership, post-Corbyn, has attempted to triangulate with this shift by supporting Johnson’s deal, hoping to win back so-called Red Wall seats lost to the Tories. But Labour will rue the day it supported this disastrous deal – it becomes complicit in all the suffering that this deal imposes. This will further set back any possibility of Labour leading a fight-back against this far-right Tory government. The fight-back will therefore be led by our communities themselves, self-organising in defence of the NHS, and against austerity, racism, oppression and discrimination in all its forms.

As we formally ‘leave’ Europe, it has never been more important to assert that our struggle is an international one, across all borders and continents. The solutions to the vast crises and challenges that we face as a class, and for humanity as a whole, can only be resolved by international cooperation and the transformation of our societies, socially, economically and politically. Capitalism brought forth the pandemic and the climate emergency and nothing less than system change can ultimately resolve these problems. We recommit to our continued work with political partners across the globe, in particular through the European Left Party, in solidarity and with a shared vision of sustainable socialist transformation.

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