Brexit: new public vote should decide

Submitted by AWL on 10 April, 2019 - 11:38 Author: Editorial
voted for shambles

No deal Brexit? Theresa May’s Brexit formula, three times rejected by Parliament but somehow squeezed through on a fourth attempt?

May’s Brexit formula, tweaked to promise a permanent customs union with the EU, and — to Labour’s shame! - pushed through with Labour front-bench support?

A long Brexit delay — ending with pretty much the same options?

Any of those options, but conditional on a new referendum to accept the favoured option or go for Remain?

The Tory back benches rebelling, forcing May out of office, precipitating an early general election?

As Solidarity goes to press on 9 April, all those are possible. Indeed, possible within the next few days.

Remember, too, that “no deal” doesn’t actually mean “no deal”. Even the most right-wing Tory MP does not believe that Britain can build a wall in the English Channel and then live behind that wall without negotiations, deals, arrangements, treaties with the rest of the world.

It means a flurry of ad hoc formulas to keep planes flying and basic supplies moving. Backstopped by a set of rules (the WTO) every bit as capitalist as the EU but more opaque and less reformable. Followed by a frantic scurry to get new deals in the worst conditions.

One thing not in the kaleidoscope of options is the “Lexit” (left-wing Brexit) once favoured by some. The left-wingers who still back Brexit are reduced either to backing the Tory hard-right’s option (“no deal”) or to urging Labour’s leaders to try harder to get a common agreement with the Tories!

Two things are clear.

Those who campaigned for Brexit and have tried to push it through didn’t know what it meant and have no formula for doing it other than maybe one which most of them think to be bad but tolerable just because it will get Brexit “over the line”.

And going “over the line” means losing:

• rights to free movement; • rights to live with citizen status across the EU; • openings to work with labour movements across the EU for social levelling-up and democratic control of the economic integration across borders which (whatever the Tory hard-right say) has been a necessary fact of life for many decades; • and the “invisibility” of the border in Ireland.

The argument that “Britain voted in June 2016, and that’s that” falls down on many grounds.

Voted for what? Nearly three years on, the leaders of the Leave campaign, and the Tory leaders who said they would implement the June 2016 decision in a “strong and stable” way, still don’t know.

Their impasse shows us that the June 2016 vote resolved nothing. In any case, the bedrock of democracy is the right of the minority to debate and to seek to become a majority.

And the June 2016 vote excluded many of those most concerned.

It excluded EU migrants settled in Britain, although they are on electoral registers and vote in local and Euro-elections.

It excluded 16 and 17 year olds, although they had been able to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

Migrants living in Britain are part of the society and should have the right to vote, not only in a new referendum on Europe, but in all elections.

The Tory government should be pushed out. We should force an early general election. Labour should call a special conference to resolve its line on Brexit. 80% or more of Labour members and Labour voters are for Remain.

Either by forcing the Tory government to call it, or by a newly-elected Labour government organising it, we should have a new public vote which allows the pro-Remain majority to express its will.

Build unions, not borders! Bring down borders! Workers’ unity!

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