Boris Johnson in a Union Jack-covered supercar. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Boris Johnson in a Union Jack-covered supercar. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

As Britain leaves the EU at 11pm tonight, the future is up for grabs, and the fight continues, argues Martin Hall

After three and a half years of prevarication, political confusion and pressure from both sides, Britain is finally leaving the European Union. It’s not, of course, to paraphrase Marx, happening under conditions of our choosing. Nevertheless, for those of us who made the case for Leave from the left, we should regard tonight positively, and accept it as the result of a democratic vote, though we should recognise the departure is on the right’s terms.

This is only a stage in what will be a long, drawn-out process to get a trade deal, one that will set up contradictions for Johnson’s government that he will struggle to resolve.

He wants a trade deal with the US, but tensions are already increasing.

He wants to be free to use state aid to some degree to reward the so-called ‘Red Wall’ that lent him their votes, which will require reducing alignment with Single Market rules.

He wants to tack to the needs of capital, which wants as much alignment as possible with Single Market rules.

Something will have to give.

And what of the left?

The Labour Party has turned inward and is focussed on its leadership election. It’s likely that calls for as much alignment as possible will continue, whoever wins.

For socialists, the arguments should be clear.

We need to make the case for what can be achieved outside the EU in order to regain the trust of the people who effectively voted to leave again in December of last year.

This will require unity of purpose, and a clear analysis of what has happened in the last three and a half years, and the reasons why Corbynism failed. The resistance must come from the entire left; only a united movement can defeat the Tories.

The policies put forward in the Labour manifesto were popular. But there is more to be said, and work to be done to carry the arguments into every trade union, every work place and every community.

We must:

  • Understand that the political centre will fight for maximum alignment, or to rejoin, because the EU privileges the needs of capital and is a barrier to socialism
  • Argue that workers’ rights are dependent upon the strength of the labour movement, and not any trade deal drawn up between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen. Our rights are not dependent upon the EU, and neither were they given to us by it.
  • Continue to fight to end austerity, which has been rolled out throughout the entire European Union
  • Oppose Johnson’s attempts to remove existing workers’ and other rights
  • Fight for migrants’ rights and no further limits on immigration
  • Fight for renationalisation and state investment to increase productivity
  • Understand that a rupture with the current model of capitalism in order to rebalance capital and labour in favour of the latter can only be achieved outside the EU