Boris Johnson’s new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, declares her intention to end free movement “for once and for all”.
For once and for all! From now to eternity, she wants to see higher and higher barriers between peoples, more and more national rivalry and strife, more and more closed-mindedness and narrowness.
Labour can stop Johnson’s gang from getting away with it.
Boris Johnson is floundering in the Brexit swamp he made for himself. It will be a scandal if Labour, or Labour “Brexit” rebels, allow him to scramble out onto dry ground this week.
If he is allowed to pose as “The Man Who Won Brexit”, then he will be well-placed to extend his poundshop-Mussolini ambitions to imposing his form of “law and order” (a big theme in the Queen’s Speech) and to economic changes to suit a trade deal with Donald Trump.
The Irish dilemma is fundamental in Brexit. Anything other than an ultra-soft Brexit in which Britain stays within almost all EU rules (just losing participation in the shaping and reshaping of those rules) means an economic border with the EU across which there are sizeable differences in regulations and tariffs.
On land, that border is the long-contested, long-fraught border within the island of Ireland. EU integration has softened that border to the point of almost invisibility in the last twenty years or so.
Anything other than an ultra-soft Brexit means making that border “hard” again — repartitioning Ireland, pretty much — or leaving Northern Ireland economically in a semi-united Ireland with an economic border between Northern Ireland and Britain.
The DUP and the Tory right (including Johnson) voted down Theresa May’s deal on the grounds that it created too much of a border between Northern Ireland and Britain. That hasn’t stopped the shameless demagogue Johnson floating the idea of a somewhat higher Northern Ireland/ Britain border than in May’s deal.
But whether he can get away with it is another matter.
Labour has edged, gradually, into a de facto pro-Remain position. Its policy is to vote against “no deal” and any available Tory deal, and for a new public vote with Remain as an option.
Labour should regain the courage of its convictions. Labour backed Remain in the 2016 referendum. Since then, things have changed sufficiently that a new vote is needed, and they have all changed in the direction of showing more and more bad effects of Brexit.
Force an extension of Brexit to avoid No Deal. Bring down Johnson. Mobilise Labour to fight an election with a clear voice for left-wing policies and against the “really existing” Brexit.