Co-ordinate strikes against the bosses and government!
Demand the TUC call a general strike to finish the government!
End the EU with workers struggle and international solidarity!
By Martin Ralph
Theresa May’s Brexit deal was defeated in the British parliament on 15 January by 432 to
202 votes. This is an historic defeat, the biggest for a ruling party in over 100 years.
Some 196 Tory MPs voted for her plan, along with 3 Labour rebels and 4 Independents.
Those voting against numbered 432 which included 118 in her own Party and the 10 MPs in
the Northern Irish DUP who are propping up her government in a confidence-and-supply
The Tory Party and the second largest Party, Labour, are deeply split over how to leave the
EU. There is no majority for any Brexit plan, nor for holding a second referendum, which is
proposed by those who want to remain in the EU. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn does not
support a second referendum, although many Labour MPs do along with a number of Tory
Following two years of negotiations, Brexit is supposed to take place in six weeks time. May
has tabled a second vote on 29 January, but can it succeed? Few if any will bet on the result.
Whatever compromises she gives or gets from other parties her hostility to workers and
immigrants will continue. And then the EU will decide.
This episode has shown parliament for what it is: a democratic façade for the rule of capital.
The divisions in the House of Commons reflect the splits in the ruling class, the demands of
big business and trade including finance, with the need to be appear to be responding to the
electorate. And what is happening shows a further historic weakening of British capitalism
on a world scale.
The Tory government and Labour Party are balancing on the result of the 2016 referendum,
which the majorities in both parties did not want, and the needs of British capitalism, which
is in economic trouble.
The referendum result was based to some extent on anti-immigrant feeling, but there has
been support for leaving the EU from communities across the UK as a reaction to the attacks
on livings standards.
A recent UGov poll suggested that 23% supported May’s deal, 49% were opposed, while
28% didn’t know. The poll was taken from a mix of supporters from different parties and
positions. The uncertainty in the population is high.
What is not uncertain is that ongoing austerity and attacks on workers’ rights is creating a
social catastrophe. A recent report showed that over 14 million people, including 4.5 million
children, are living below the breadline, with more than half trapped in poverty for years.
Homeless people are increasingly visible on the streets of every city in Britain. 1 The
incarceration rate of people in Wales in prisons is the highest in Europe – an indication of
what some sectors of the working class communities have to do to survive. 2
The working class faces a worse situation in 2019 than in 2016. Not only because of
austerity but because Brexit has led to the suspension of public spending projects.
Economic crisis deepens
The Tory party may propose a new plan but there is no clear plan that can guarantee a
parliamentary majority. Against the political interests of the British parliament the EU is
fighting for its position as the world’s largest trading bloc where the most important
imperialist countries of Germany and France remain in control. It is a bosses’ club and shows
no sign of conceding to the representatives of British capitalism.
However, all the EU countries face political and/or economic crises. There are rebellions in
France and Hungary against austerity and governments who support the EU project.
National budget controls are imposed by the European commissions and the European
Central Bank. Europe is facing a deepening world crises in production and trade. In the
words of prominent Marxist economist, Michael Roberts,
“The German economy, the capitalist powerhouse of Europe, in 2018, real GDP growth was
1.5% down from 2.2% in 2017. This was the weakest growth rate in five years. Germany’s
industrial sector is in recession. Industrial production in Germany decreased 4.7% in
November of 2018 over the same month in the previous year.” 3
Workers and the poor across Europe want a better future. The EU only offers only the same
misery for workers and the poor across all countries.
Tory and Labour politicians fail to acknowledge this reality and talk as if the EU will just
agree to one or another ‘deal’. The debates will continue but it is likely that deadlock will
If that is the case there may be a second referendum. But the campaign for this is led by the
likes of the previous British Prime Minister and chief warmonger Tony Blair, and even Nigel
Farage, prominent Brexiter, xenophobe and former leader of far right UKIP has now
indicated his support!
Labour’s official answer is the call for a general election. However, a national demonstration
in London called by the People’s Assembly (who are linked to Labour) demanded a general
election just 3000 turned up. The likely result could be a hung parliament – the result of
their utter failure to organise, or even issue a call for a mass movement to bring down the
Oppose the EU
The unelected European Commission and European Central Bank advance ever stricter
measures against the periphery economies of the EU like Greece. Today these countries
have become semi-colonies. They continue to suffer misery, while the EU expands its
austerity programme on behalf of the banks and big business.
Privatisation is increasing across the EU area with corporate Europe taking over public
services including rail, health and education under EU directives.
And the social catastrophe first imposed on the peripheral countries is now developing in
the core countries. The Yellow Shirt explosion in France took place because of Macron’s
policies (that follow the EU directives).
Workers and the down trodden including immigrants in all countries will have to come
together and break from the Eurozone and the EU as part of a struggle to end the
imposition of permanent austerity and control over the rights of European people.
To achieve real unity of the struggles of workers in the core countries against their own
government and capitalism with those in the peripheral countries against imperialism and
their governments it is necessary to leave the EU. But not along Tory lines; of privatisation,
immigration controls and removing ever more rights from workers.
Bring the Tories down!
The harsh situation facing workers with the attack on their pensions, casualisation of jobs,
social security cuts and scapegoating and persecution of minorities is the responsibility of
the Tories. The paralysis of parliament, which will continue for sometime, shows that there
is no parliamentary solution in the struggle against the EU or the Tory government.
‘No Confidence’ motions will not bring the government down. The no confidence motion
put by Labour on 16 January lost by 306 votes to 325 as Tory and DUP MPs supported
Theresa May against Corbyn.
Corbyn’s hope for a general election means nothing unless it is linked to the class struggle
and supports the mobilisations of workers with a programme reflecting the interests and
rights of workers. And the call for a second referendum would be a diversion from building
the struggle to kick the Tories out.
Neither the Labour Party nor the Trade Union leadership have raised the question of a
general strike to bring the government down.
Those currently taking strike action such as the RMT and those planning or balloting for
action should push for co-ordinated strikes while demanding the TUC organise a general
strike. Our first task is to overthrow the Tories with a mass struggle of workers. For this the
TUC and the major trade unions need to organise for a general strike that should include the
independent trade unions and communities in the preparation.
The working class faces an abyss with the combination of austerity, EU policies, and the
deepening economic problems in Britain, Europe and the world. Only an independent road
of class struggle for socialism will find a way out of the abyss.
We say the UK has to leave the EU but that this exit must be based on a working-class
programme: end austerity, immigrants welcome, nationalisation with workers control, no
payment of any debt requested by the EU, call all the European working class for a fight to
destroy this capitalist EU, build a workers’ government and a free Socialist United States of