Theresa May. Photo: wikimedia commons Theresa May. Photo: wikimedia commons

John Rees on why the coming demonstration on the night of the Brexit vote could be the beginning of the end for the Tory government

The British Parliamentary system is about to experience its most significant crisis since the start of the Iraq war.

Theresa May has already lost three votes on the floor of the House of Commons and looks set to lose the critical vote on her Brexit deal by a considerable margin.

The long established convention is that when a government is unable to command a majority on the floor of the House of Commons a general election is called. But in this case it is very likely that the government will attempt to stay in office by winning a vote of confidence, which the Labour Party has already said it will call in the event of the crucial Brexit vote being lost.

If the Tories win this fight it will create a Parliamentary stalemate. The governing party will be unable to pass key legislation but will have sustained itself in a vote of confidence.

There is no easy purely parliamentary solution to this crisis. What will be necessary is pressure from the streets in order to force the government to do what it should do anyway: call a general election.

This could be a defining political moment. After two years where the majority of people have simply looked on in horror as the political class bungles the Brexit negotiations it will be the first time that ordinary people have an opportunity to mobilise and alter the direction of political events.

The demonstration called for the night of the critical vote in parliament, 11th December, is vitally important. If that demonstration is large enough, if it is angry and focused, it can help ensure that the outcome of this crisis is a fresh general election, raising the prospect of a Corbyn government.

This outcome is, of course, far from automatic. Many Tory MPs and many right wing Labour MPs would prefer a second referendum. In both cases they prefer the possibility of reversing the original referendum result to the prospect of a Corbyn government.

No matter which way you voted in the original referendum, if you care about ending austerity, if you care about homelessness, if you want to see rail and other privatised utilities taken back into public ownership, then a general election is the only way that this can be done. In short, it is driving the Tories from power which is the key question for working people in Britain today.

The consequences of a Corbyn victory will be far greater than any possible deal over Brexit. The whole labour movement therefore has every interest in uniting to ensure that from this crisis the Tories are forced to leave office and a general election is called.

Tuesday the 11th of December may only be the first step in achieving this outcome. In the days and weeks of political crisis that follow any defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, more than one popular mobilisation will be required.

But the demonstration next Tuesday will be the beginning of the campaign. The People’s Assembly will be distributing yellow vests so that something of the spirit of the recent revolt in France hits the streets of Britain.

The poster boy of neoliberalism, President Emmanuel Macron, has been defeated by the protests in France. It’s time that the Tory party in Britain, the pioneer of neoliberalism, was driven from office. This political crisis is the best chance since the last general election to achieve that aim. Every section of the labour movement and of the left should mobilise to ensure that Theresa May does not emerge as Prime Minister from the events of the next few weeks.

For more details regarding the demo, click here.

John Rees

John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.