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THERESA MAY must see this weekend as a perfect storm. She is under attack from the Brexit wing of her party, has suffered two major ministerial resignations, has a Nato summit where Donald Trump looks set to insult his so-called allies, then she is hosting his visit to Britain which will be met with mass protests, and then he is off to a Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. What could possibly go wrong?
Instead of the triumphant right-wing lovefest that May had in mind when she invited Trump for a state visit back in January 2017, this downgraded trip is likely to be a headache for her — just at a time when, once again, she is shown as unable to enforce her will in her own government or in her own party. This in turn raises existential questions.
Despite the way in which May and her boosters in the media try to pretend that nothing really important has happened, the cabinet is on the rocks, having lost some of its major figures in the past months.
To lose two cabinet ministers looks like carelessness, but to lose nine as she has over the past year should make it impossible for her to survive.
There are certainly plenty in the Tory Party who want her to go. Johnson will not stay quiet for long as his resignation letter made perfectly clear. It would be extremely foolish, however, to rely on Tory splits to bring her down.
A government as tawdry, unprincipled and incompetent as this one doesn’t deserve to survive. It cannot deliver on the most basic issues.
Its own members are united by only two things — the usual Tory instinct for self-preservation on the one hand and the fear of a Jeremy Corbyn government on the other.
What is the basic issue here? The ruling class in almost its entirety wants to stay in the single market, while the ruling party is split on it.
The pressure is on to get behind May in a deal which is almost certainly unacceptable to the EU but which nonetheless makes major concessions over Brexit, which is in turn unacceptable to the Tory right.
This pressure is leading the so-called rebels who support Remain to now get behind May, withdrawing amendments to next week’s trade Bill.
It is also all too predictably seeing a number of Labour MPs getting behind May, from Mike Gapes saying we need a national government, to Stephen Kinnock saying now is not the time for a general election, to deputy leader Tom Watson effectively backing the government rather than attacking them.
The interests of working people in Britain are constantly subsumed in these arguments over the EU, with both sides debating how best it can work for British capital.
Despite Kinnock, a general election is exactly what we need. There is a national crisis practically everywhere we look — on the railways, in education, in health, in housing — yet absolutely no solution from government about how to deal with any of these problems.
The EU is obsessing a few tens of thousands but those in the political elite have no idea what most people are concerned about.
As long as politics is bogged down in the to and fro over Brexit then it becomes a politics which ignores major class issues affecting us.
The left must challenge this — there can be common positions which say that we should respect the referendum result but fight for a People’s Brexit for jobs, public services and workers’ rights.
Such a Brexit would be complete anathema to Jacob Rees-Mogg and his crew. Such a Brexit should also refute the idea that this was all about immigration and reject scapegoating of migrants.
Several surveys, notably from British Social Attitudes, show that positive views of immigration are growing since the referendum.
The mass protests against the Trump visit are an important part of asserting this agenda. They are likely to be very large, signifying both the opposition to Trump and all he stands for, but they are also about much more than Trump.
He has become a symbol of all that the far right hold dear, and his politics are spreading their poison across Europe.
Repressive measures against Muslims and migrants, a hostile environment to migrants here, a demand for far higher military spending, contempt for protecting the environment, the crudest racism and sexism, constant attacks on workers’ rights – these are the issues we are fighting against.
So the Trump protests are protests at our government too — not just for inviting him but for pursuing many of the same policies.
They are about asserting that another and a better world is possible, but only if the left can make itself relevant to working people.
The fight against war, racism, scapegoating, is also the fight for proper jobs, decent pay and working conditions, against the worsening council cuts.
Let’s see these protests as the gathering together of a huge wave of opposition which can help sweep away this government and replace it with a left government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
But let’s see it also as something which can strengthen the fight against racism, fascism and war (there will be protests against the Tommy Robinson demo the following day), and strengthen workers’ organisation on every front.
With enemies like Trump we are going to need it.
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