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Editorial: Labour’s response to Johnson’s deal will be key

BORIS JOHNSON was to appear before his parliamentary party last night and today we will see more of what has been incubated in the Brussels tunnels.

The text that goes before the EU meeting today will show what has been agreed and what remains up for discussion in what promises to be a very long period in which an agreement to withdraw from the EU becomes the discussion on what the nature of Britain’s future relationship with the EU will likely be.

The Irish government has great anxieties that its EU-licensed position as the beneficiary of rock-bottom corporate taxes may be undermined. 

It is locked into a neoliberal mindset and the narrow range of economic policies which eurozone membership allows.

And there are anxieties in Berlin and Paris that the hegemony exercised over the EU’s markets by these two main economic players may be compromised if Britain’s Tory government gets away with a deal that tilts the so-called “level playing” field — actually the rules which privilege German and French exports — towards a British industrial and export sector less encumbered by the regulatory framework which presently underpins their increasingly troubled economies.

There is some Tory speculation that a deal that dispenses with remains of the rather tattered EU social protections may well be in the offing.

Anyone who took the increasingly threadbare legend of a “social Europe” as any kind of guarantee should understand that the various ruling elites have more in common with each other than they have with any of their own peoples and even less with the working people of other lands.

In our country the Remain camp — in its many guises — is by and large made up of people who pour into the vessel labelled European Union a whole range of positive values, and for many their opposition to a Tory Brexit is sincere.

We can exclude from that category the big business lobby CBI, the big banks and City institutions, the right-wing Blairite clique in Labour and the poisonous columnists in the supposedly liberal press, the military, security and intelligence lobby tied in with Nato and the US military industrial complex, all of whom are rabid Remainers.

Nevertheless good intentions can sometimes obscure hard facts.

The mass of working-class opposition to Britain’s membership is not driven principally by the reactionary propaganda from the millionaire press and right-wing think tanks. 

In fact, there is in the Remain camp a much more substantial array of right-wing, free market, neoliberal, big business-funded, finance industry-friendly newspapers and pressure groups that make the right-wing Brexit forces look decidedly junior.

And their junior status in the ruling class order of battle is underlined by the fact that many of the nominally irreconcilable Brexiteers in the European Research Group are signed up to Johnson’s new entente cordiale with the EU Commission.

The ruling class and big business nearly lost confidence that the Tory Party was a reliable instrument. Their problem is that right-wing Labour is sinking fast and the Lib Dems are a one-trick pony with a decidedly flaky leadership unable to command confidence.

This is part of what impels Johnson to come up with a deal which differs little from that which Theresa May was offered by the EU bigwigs.

If there really is something to show for the dealing over these last days, then how Labour responds to Johnson’s offering and the text that goes before the EU tomorrow will shape how the election campaign will be conducted.

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