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Editorial: Labour must use a recalled Parliament to bring the government down

BORIS JOHNSON’S defeat by the Supreme Court brings MPs back to Parliament from this morning and places the question of this country’s future before us all.

For the labour movement, the pressing question must be how to remove an illegitimate, minority Tory government as quickly as possible.

Every day that goes by under the Conservatives means more suffering. The government declines to prevent the collapse of Thomas Cook, to save thousands of jobs and assist tens of thousands on holiday, on the grounds that state intervention in the economy presents a “moral hazard.”

That myopic neoliberal fallacy sums up the priorities of a failed politics ready to let industries and communities go to the wall in order to preserve the supposed integrity of “the market” rather than place the needs of people first.

Johnson was not even in Britain to hear the Supreme Court’s verdict, having jetted off to the United States to pledge his allegiance to Donald Trump.

There our unelected Prime Minister assured his master that British troops could be ready to join a catastrophic Saudi-inspired war against Iran at the behest of the blood-soaked murderer of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

One Houthi missile strike on Saudi oilfields has provoked more outrage in Western capitals than a four-year Saudi war on the Houthis that has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis directly and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Jeremy Corbyn’s passionate speech to Labour conference highlighted how utterly different a Labour government would be.

And it was vital and welcome that this included a specific rejection of a trigger-happy foreign policy that “spreads conflicts rather than settles them” and of any attempt to attack Iran.

Its pledge to meet Johnson head on with “the biggest people-powered campaign this country has ever seen” must become a reality.

That campaign should have already begun. If the Conservatives maintain their current promise to go ahead with their autumn conference despite Parliament’s recall it should bring tens of thousands onto the streets of Manchester this weekend to demand a different Britain.

But its success also requires a relentless focus by Labour and the whole movement on forcing and winning a general election as soon as possible. 

The court’s verdict is a defeat for Johnson. But he is not without options. His immediate response from New York struck the combative tone we can expect from the government. He made no bones about accusing the court of unjustified interference in the political sphere.

Johnson’s narrative has been clear for months: he and only he will deliver the departure from the EU that the people voted for in what — as Corbyn was right to remind Labour conference today — remains the biggest democratic vote in our history. 

We know that a Johnson government, which thinks saving jobs is a “moral hazard” but diverting hundreds of thousands in public money to one of the PM’s friends is routine behaviour, will not deliver the change people voted for in 2016 whether or not it formally leaves the EU.

But in pointing to what can plausibly be seen as a campaign of sabotage by MPs and the courts aimed at stopping Brexit, Johnson has an argument that will cut ice with large numbers of Leave voters. 

Labour avoided the trap of becoming an explicitly Remain party this week, but the commitment to a second referendum could well be a millstone round the neck of Labour candidates in many areas.

Further retreat on this issue must be rejected. All talk of national governments and bids by the likes of Anna Soubry to push for a second referendum ahead of an election should be given short shrift.

Now is the time for a no-confidence vote in the Tories and an election whose goal must be a majority Labour government ready to implement the inspirational policies talked about in Brighton this week.

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