theresa may Theresa May. Photo: Flickr/Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The Tory mess is getting deeper, argues Jonathan Maunders

Just a day after attempting to use the Taylor report to position herself as an ally of workers, Theresa May published the Repeal Bill which rejects carrying over the EU charter of fundamental rights into UK domestic law.

May’s dream of a big majority are long vanished leaving her clinging on to power. Her Brexit plans are dangling by a thread. Party splits on this bill could weaken her further. But if we want to bring her government down and protect workers rights we need to know how to exploit the Tory crisis.

The repeal bill means that EU law will be directly transferred into UK law, but as this happens the government has the chance to alter specific laws.

It is abundantly clear that the government will seek to use this process to erode the rights and freedoms of working class people in any way they can.

The Labour Party has rightly responded by declaring that they would not support the bill as it currently stands, calling for changes in a number of areas, including guarantees on workers’ rights and moves to stop the government altering legislation without putting it before parliament.

While there are almost certainly more demands that Labour could make to ensure workers are not left worse off after Brexit, their stance reminds us what the wider left must do during the two years of legislation ahead.

Brexit was a difficult time for many on the left and there were clear divisions in the aftermath as people made a complex and often emotional choice. The election campaign was instrumental in reuniting the left and during this legislation process, with the Tories’ position precarious, it is vital that we are not scrapping amongst ourselves on what decision the country made last year.

Instead we need to unite in fighting the government on the kind of Brexit we get.

Just relying on Labour won’t do the trick, not least because they don’t have enough MPs to get their way, especially if the hardline remainers like Chuka Umunna are going to ignore Corbyn’s plan for a People’s Brexit.

The Tories perilous reliance on their post-election bedfellows, the DUP, to help them carry key motions through makes them especially vulnerable. The only thing that could rescue them is if Remainer Tories, and the Lib-dems are supported by the Labour right.

It is essential that the left does not get caught up in this. While such a challenge will cause bother for the government, it would not be motivated by protecting workers but instead supporting private corporations who see their interests best served by staying in the single market.

It is clear that if the left wants to beat the Tories and their plans to use Brexit to erode workers’ rights, it must do so on a radical platform that is clear in its intentions to put workers first.  

There is a long road of debate ahead as the government looks to change individual laws inherited from the EU, but it must also be a period of sustained and united action to stop the government in its tracks and increase the pressure on them to vacate Downing Street.

Tagged under: