If we on the left don’t take a united front position against Tory Brexit, it’ll help sink our people, says MANUEL CORTES
BREXIT ain’t the route to socialism in one country. Still less to world revolution. Disagreements over the best option for our class has split sections of the left since the referendum was announced.
Sadly, many have been slow to get to grips with the realpolitik, continuing to rehash the 1970s anti-joining positions without much regard for how 30 years of neoliberalism have changed the balance of forces for our side.
Those who thought that the referendum outcome would be Remain weren’t the only ones who failed to anticipate the Leave vote.
Neither did Nigel Farage or the three muppeteers Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox, who are committing political hara-kiri on Britain’s behalf on a daily basis.
The trouble is, if we on the left don’t take a united front position against Tory Brexit, it’ll help sink our people.
Just like when Labour helped to prosecute the war with Iraq, we must oppose Tory Brexit because it’s “not in our name.”
Our union was resolutely in favour of remaining. Not because the EU offers any road to a socialist nirvana. But because we feared, rightly, that in Tory hands, Brexit would do more harm than good to working people.
Handing the Tories carte blanche for Brexit and subsequent trade deals is like TTIP on steroids, which ain’t good class politics. Not for ours, anyway.
From the perspective of TSSA members working on Eurostar, acquiescing to Tory plans to restrict free movement is to conspire with those in the boss class who seek to divide worker from worker by accident of birth.
Socialists shouldn’t be resurrecting borders that lock workers out of Britain or, for that matter, confine ours to our soil. Never mind one that could reignite a volatile situation in Ireland where our union organises workers from Cork to Belfast.
Looking at restricting free movement is already damaging our living standards and public services as EU citizen workers head elsewhere.
It is a sad fact that some of the people most concerned about immigration — those left behind by globalisation — are the first to be impacted by the flight of EU workers.
In less than a year the rate of EU nurses coming to work in the UK has fallen from 1,304 to just 46 this April.
The Health Foundation said there was a shortage of 30,000 nurses in England alone, adding that the NHS could not afford such a drop.
Last year we hosted some 85,000 seasonal workers through the autumn but now fruit is already withering on the vine and the price of homegrown produce is rising because 26,000 fewer agricultural workers are coming from eastern Europe.
Recruitment agencies report being hard-pressed to come up with half that number for this coming season.
The University and College Union is worried about the impact in education. Short-term employment contracts already make higher education a precarious employer so EU nationals, uncertain about their settlement rights, are now choosing to work elsewhere in Europe. Care homes are also in recruitment crisis and unable to access the labour force needed for our old folk.
Brexit is an economic disaster in the making as inflation is already rising and real wages are falling.
Worse is yet to come if we end up having to import even more food if there aren’t enough workers to pick and process food on our shores. And a Tory dog-eat-dog immigration policy will simply let the forces of reaction triumph. Building on the For The Many pledges in Labour’s 2017 manifesto we must continue to signal Labour’s route map to a new economic settlement which ensures noone is left behind.
Let’s put down those shameful “immigration control” mugs and refuse to let migrants be the scapegoats for the many ills we are facing.
The Tories’ “post-Brexit” plans for immigration will make our country poorer and even more divided. Wages will go further down because as the TUC has already warned, “illegal immigration” will rise, leaving more workers with no rights and no minimum wage.
Tory Brexit cheerleaders want to create a US-style labour market, where millions of so-called “illegals” toil hard to keep the biggest economy in the world motoring.
They have no rights and the fear of deportation means they can’t take on their bosses. The authorities pretend to clamp down, but in effect they turn a blind eye as the US economy will collapse without them. This is illegality by design which only benefits the bosses.
Morning Star readers know that the Tories really don’t give a monkey’s about immigration provided it gives capital a pool of cheap labour to boost their profits.
So far they have partly achieved this through deregulating our labour market. Brexit is them seizing their opportunity to create an underground economy in which workers don’t stand up to bosses because the penalty is deportation.
It’s time to call the Tories out on their intentions. Their leaked immigration policy, though a dogwhistle for xenophobes, is clearly in the economic interests of capital. Time now to stop shadow boxing and get stuck in.
The antidote to the Tories’ freemarket craziness is not restriction of free movement but an end to workers’ exploitation through labour market regulation, a living wage of at least £10 an hour and a trade union in every workplace.
The Tories seek to divide us. Our job is to create unity and build on Marx’s original vision of a world without borders where workers of all lands unite!
Manuel Cortes is general secretary of transport union TSSA.