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The EU Leave vote should not be subverted by extreme anti-democrats

DOUG NICHOLLS warns of new and urgent dangers arising from the opposition to Brexit

JEREMY CORBYN was quite right to say in an interview with the German Der Spiegel magazine that Brexit cannot be stopped and Keir Starmer was quite wrong to contradict him almost immediately.

Parliament in its current form, especially the House of Commons, is the product of a long battle for the truly universal franchise for all those over 18. 

The battle for parliamentary democracy started in 1649 and ended in 1969. Like it or loathe it, the British people have invested their hopes and sense of democracy in it. 

Mess with this historic reality and who knows what fury will be unleashed? It’s the loss of popular sovereignty under the rule of the unelected EU bureaucracies that is leading to the discontent with it throughout the continent. 

And it is the desperate measures to punish Britain for peacefully voting to take self-determination back that is leading to the rise of new attacks on democracy. 

The backlash from the capital will also be ferocious, continued uncertainty for the money markets beyond the scheduled parliamentary debate, will accelerate the already brewing 2008 sequel.

Parliament agreed that a referendum would be held on EU membership and that Parliament would be bound by the result.

Every organised worker knows that, following debate, when a vote is finally taken, even if the majority is one single vote, everyone implements the decision. Without discipline there’s anarchy.

Never in British history has a bigger mandate by the people been given to Parliament than in the 2016 referendum.

Parliamentarians have no right to undermine this and play party politics with the result. Yet this is what is in danger of intensifying as the Westminster bubble fizzes more explosively.

Parliament has triggered Article 50 and agreed, in passing the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, to leave on March 29 2019. This is a democratic anchor point.

These decisions cannot be subverted by extreme anti-democrats. If they are, we will witness the growth of something sinister. Previously we have only read about such things in history books or seen them in other countries.

Starmer pulled an anti-democratic stunt at the Labour Party Conference, to the anger of many delegates and the main unions present, when he called for the possibility of a second referendum.

Those fighting yesterday’s battles to keep us in the EU are now though, playing more dangerously in a new political context which they have completely ignored. The EU has got much worse since we decided to leave it and people generally more discontent.

The EU has built 1,000km of border walls since the fall of the Berlin Wall. These are to stop the “free movement of people” from outside the EU which we are told is so wonderful for everyone inside. 

German business is aligning with new right-wing leaders throughout the world and declaring war on “the enemies within” — that is those against the EU. 

This reflects a political shift to the right in many EU countries and its own cipher-like Parliament. Even the Polish prime minister turned out on a fascist march this weekend, for example.

It is no accident that shortly after adopting its new unified military strategy and forming its EU armed forces under the Pesco agreements, the EU is relishing in the largest-ever Nato exercises, recently held in Norway. Are these to bring peace?

The EU anti-worker agenda is strengthening. We saw what it did to Greece in the biggest historic peacetime example of national asset-stripping. 

We saw it oppose the Portuguese government’s anti-austerity measures and now the Italian government, the fourth-largest industrial economy in Europe, is told that it must reverse its anti-austerity budget. 

The EU has tried various manoeuvres to get austerity hard-wired into the Brexit deal in perpetuity.

All serious economists know the inevitable is happening, the euro currency is imploding. The decades of mass European unemployment it has nurtured are reaching breaking point and the suffering of German workers to underpin the euro is beginning to tell. 

It’s time for the Parliamentary Labour Party to abandon Starmer’s illusory tests which are more like traps to make leaving the EU impossible. You can’t test leaving until you have left the EU, just as you can’t have a second referendum on the results of a decision that haven’t taken place yet.

Our tests are straightforward — are we out of the single market and customs union, out of the common fisheries policy, the common agricultural policy, do we stop all unnecessary payments to the EU and will we be out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? 

We need the freedom to invest in our economy and trade as we see fit across the world and, on the basis of our own full-employment-driven labour market plans, assess exactly what skills we are prepared to import. 

If these conditions are met, we are out and can begin the urgent reconstruction needed in our industrial economy to generate the wealth to boost our public services and renationalise our utilities and railways. We will also be able to reimpose exchange controls on capital if we want to.

At this frenzied time prior to the parliamentary vote on how to leave the EU, I remember the very sincere warnings Bob Crow and Tony Benn both gave us. They said, unless socialists and trade unionists led the campaign to leave the EU, the vacuum would be filled by the right, the chauvinists and racists.

We will enter a potentially dangerous point in our history if this truth is not appreciated. If organised labour lines up with the corporations and finance houses to continue to back the dead duck of the EU and if socialists continue to delude themselves that Michel Barnier and co will rebuild and transform Britain, we will see chaos emerge.

If Labour plays silly when the vote on the deal is held and is seen to be the party blocking rather than welcoming Brexit, it will never get elected. And this of course suits many in the out-of-step PLP which despises the new socialist agenda. Tory ministers can resign and huff and puff and retire on their fortunes. The people can’t.

If Parliament breaks its faith with the people and in any way tampers with the leaving date, the anger of the 17.4 million who have so far, as democrats, patiently waited to see how Parliament will ultimately handle their mandate, will rise in new and not such pleasant ways.

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