Tue Sep 26, 2023
September 26, 2023

Brexit: stay in the EU or build a path out for workers?

Brexit (Britain Exit) is the idiom for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. It became the center of political debate in Europe after the June 23rd, 2016 referendum, called by David Cameron, in which voters had to answer if the UK should stay in or leave the EU. 51,8% voted for leaving, turning the UK into the first country to prepare its exit from the EU.

Written by Maria Silva

The bourgeoisie of the United Kingdom is divided: the financial sector benefits from the EU and a sector lost with the brutal de-industrialization of the country. The bosses of the EU want to teach a lesson to any country that dares to put the exit on the table. The impasse is, thus, caused by the fight of each sector of the bourgeoisie for losing the minimum possible and imposing the costs of instability on the other sector, while at the same time avoiding the most feared option: a disordered exit, the “No Deal”.

Theresa May, with successive manoeuvres, wants to reach March 29th with a situation in which either her plan is approved, or the “No Deal” happens, or there is a second referendum to avoid Brexit. If everything goes wrong, she wants to postpone the deadline in order to minimize the damage of the “No Deal”.

May is using the Brexit to attack health, jobs and social security. But Corbyn is no alternative either: he proposes an exit which centers in the relationship with the European Single Market, remaining submissive to the neoliberal plans of the EU, which force the privatization of gas, electricity, railways, postal services, telecommunications, stop the nationalizations and anything which hinders market freedom. The bare minimum of her social promises are, thus, impossible in the framework of her proposal for a deal with the EU.

On the side of workers, a sector of the working class lost their jobs and living conditions with the entry in the EU, which was at the same time as Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal attacks. Another sector distrusts the Brexit against workers proposed by the Conservative Party and stimulated by xenophobic, anti-immigrant, racist speech of the UKIP.

Despite this, the working class is fighting and a series of strikes have happened (Uber, McDonald’s, immigrant workers), while building new rank-and-file unions which express the search of alternatives against the crisis on the part of the working class.

Brexit or Lexit?

We cannot give in to the blackmail of a large part of the Left, which says that there is nothing beyond the EU and that is has a supposedly internationalist and democratic character, while the EU more and more shows that it is the Fortress Europe, the Austerity Europe, the Troika Europe; when it demonstrates its anti-democratic leanings (against the Catalonian people, against refugees and migrants, against those who fight for workers) and anti-workers, serving essentially to attack our rights. We must defend that only outside of the EU is it possible to find a path for the workers, public services and rights.

But we must also know what path is useful for the workers. The Conservative Brexit is that which attacks public services, defends the owner’s interests and wants to throw the costs over the workers’ shoulders.

Because of this, we must unify all current struggles in a massive general strike against Theresa May and her government. It is from the struggles of workers that the Lexit (Left Exit) must be built, to put an end to the generalization of precarious work, renationalise the economy and create jobs for everyone, against the destruction of health and pensions, for the free circulation of workers and solidarity with refugees. This will be done against May, but also against Corbyn, who already made clear he is there to defend the interests of big bosses and of Common Market bankers, not to split with the EU of Austerity.

There is no way out for workers in the European Union of Austerity

The problems workers face in the UK are the same of other European countries. After all, against what should be a right of peoples to decide, it seems like everything is done so that no one can leave the EU.

The ruin of Syriza and the destruction of Greece after having fought against the Troika, or the supposed success of the Geringonça1 in Portugal, both of whom keep the dictatorship of deficit and austerity, show that there is no European Union but that of austerity. We need, from each struggle that happens in the continent, unite the peoples of all Europe for a split with the EU that benefits workers, for the construction an united Europe of workers and peoples.

Text originally published in Em Luta, Portugal,  nº 13 (March 2019)

Translated by Miki Sayoko


Translator’s note: [1] Geringonça: roughly “Contraption”; the coalition between the ruling party (the Socialist Party – PS) with other so-called center-left parties (Communist Party – PCP; Left Bloc – BE; and the Greens) to obtain the majority in the Portuguese Parliament and so be able to rule. It promised to “turn the page on austerity”, but so far only the financial market is happy and unemployment has increased.

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