The Tories have moved fractionally on their Internal Market bill, which, by their own account, breaches the Withdrawal Agreement treaty they signed with the EU (on economic checks between Northern Ireland and Britain).
As shadow Attorney-General Charlie Falconer puts it, it's "no climbdown... only a doubling-down". The shift says only that each breach of the Withdrawal Agreement will need parliamentary assent. Dissident Tory MPs are placated, but the EU isn't.
The Tories are also hyping up conflict with the EU about "state aid" to industry. The Morning Star and others see this as a left-wing move by Boris Johnson. But revolutionary socialists in France, where the government does much more "state aid" than the UK, have made stopping that state aid a key economic demand for decades.
EU "competition policy" contains obstacles to public ownership, though they are elastic and didn't stop many banks being nationalised across the EU in 2008-9, nor the Tories recently renationalising the Train Operating Companies.
The "state aid" rules are chiefly aimed not against social policy (generally less meagre in other big EU countries than in Britain) but against "wasteful subsidy races to lure investors, as happens between American states... sweetheart tax deals granted to firms such as Amazon and Ikea by Ireland, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands" ( The Economist, 19 September).
Socialists do not endorse "level playing-field" capitalist competition, but equally we oppose sweeteners and hand-outs to bosses. Even if we think Boris Johnson might pay many such hand-outs, which is unlikely.
Former Tory adviser Lynton Crosby reckons all the noise is a deliberate "bit of crazy" to knock the EU off balance for advantage in talks over a post-Brexit deal after 31 December.
Maybe. But both "no deal" Brexit, and a deal levered through while all attention is diverted by the coming Covid winter spike, will be bad.
Labour's leaders are still trying to play clever, by criticising the Tories only on grounds of competence at "getting Brexit done". Worse, union leaders, MPs, and most Labour left groups (outside Momentum Internationalists) are silent. Speak out now!