The Brexit designed by our Conservative government is a scam, and now we know exactly what it will cost us. Dressed up as a reverse gear on globalisation and austerity economics, it is actually an acceleration of the neoliberal project. By its completion, the Conservatives will have rid Britain of the public services, welfare state, rights and liberties that make it a social democracy.
Amendments dropping like flies
The bill to trigger Article 50 and begin Britain’s exit from the EU was never going to be defeated. The Conservative government has a majority in parliament. But many hoped the government would soften its approach and accept sensible amendments to protect British interests in Brexit.
They were wrong.
One by one, the amendments were proposed, and one by one they were defeated by the Conservative majority. The Leavers who campaigned on the pledge of giving an additional £350m a week to the NHS with cash saved from the EU voted AGAINST doing so. They voted AGAINST guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. They voted AGAINST parliament having the final say on accepting the deal with which Theresa May returns from Brussels. They voted AGAINST protecting Britain from becoming a tax haven in a post-Brexit race to the bottom. They even voted against ensuring that any agreement reached in Brussels would uphold, not contradict, arrangements of the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
No. Amendments. At. All. Nothing, not one issue cross Party consensus could achieve. Nothing for 48%. Everything for 52%. Just. Wow. https://t.co/U6lAhv0Dcw
— Sue Marsh (@suey2y) February 8, 2017
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— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) February 8, 2017
This leaves every non-xenophobic promise of the Leave campaign shattered on the floor of the Commons.
Tory Brexit is not about regaining our sovereignty, or protecting Britain from the Euro and the enforced austerity programmes that battered countries like Greece. It is about something else entirely.
A Tory Brexit
There were entirely rational reasons for liberals and the left to vote for Brexit. Even those who would have chosen to remain in the EU should not ignore its serious flaws. Particularly its anti-democratic tendencies. In recent years, the EU deposed the democratically elected leaders of Greece and Italy, and replaced them with pro-austerity technocrats. It is not ignorant or bigoted to question a continuing and deepening alliance to such a system.
But this is not the Brexit we are getting. The left-wing Brexit of greater democracy and protection from radical neoliberal austerity is never going to happen under this government.
In order to protect Britain from the losses associated with leaving the single market, the May government has confirmed it would turn Britain into a tax haven – cutting corporation taxes radically to attract business. May has committed to withdrawing Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights, and refused to guarantee working people’s rights after Brexit. The rights that ensure us all a minimum wage, maximum hours, and safe workplaces. The ones that all but ended sweatshop/workhouse conditions in the UK. Yet these rights may well end up on the chopping block as May begs corporations to stay in the country.
But what about respecting democracy?
Isn’t arguing against the Brexit bill a betrayal of those 52% of Referendum voters who chose Leave? Well, no.
If there was a referendum vote in favour of reinstating the death penalty to Britain, I would expect every person of good conscience to oppose it until their dying breath. The same would go for the banning of access to abortion, or the removal of rights from anyone on the basis of their gender, sexuality, or ethnicity.
It’s simple. Democracy doesn’t allow majority groups to vote away the rights and liberties of minority groups. At least it shouldn’t, if it is in any way functional. That’s not democracy. That’s mob rule. The EU referendum asked voters if they wanted to leave the EU, not how. Without a second referendum on the latter, Brexit is nothing more than a fraudulently attained collective signature on a suicide note.
Unite or suffer
This current Brexit betrays everyone who voted Remain, and everyone who believed that leaving the EU could be about bolder values. And that makes this no time for those who voted Remain to gloat. Smugly baying at disenchanted Leave voters will do nothing except further alienate those who know that both the status quo and the post-Brexit landscape are hostile to their interests.
We have to get real about the state we are in. The Brexit designed by our Conservative government is a scam. Dressed up as a reverse gear on globalisation and austerity economics, it is actually an acceleration of the neoliberal project to rid Britain of the public services, welfare state, rights and liberties that make it a social democracy. It will cost us every progressive right, liberty, welfare and public service we built together since the Second World War.
Whether you voted Leave or Remain, it is irrelevant now. If you don’t want the Brexit on offer, it’s time to unite with everyone who feels the same.
– Join the legal campaign for a Brexit for the 100%.
– Contact your MP and make your voice heard on the issue.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
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