May’s Brexit Bluff

Theresa May’s bluff that “No Deal is better than a bad deal” was never directed at the EU. The EU negotiators knew what cards Britain was holding all along, and they amounted to a busted flush. The EU is a $14 trillion economy, with 500 million people compared to the UK’s $2 trillion economy and 70 million people. The UK is economically, and politically a minnow compared to the EU, like comparing Tesco with the corner shop nearby. Whatever delusions the Brextremists may harbour, the UK needs the EU, more than the EU needs Britain. The idea that if the UK toddler did not get its own way, it would throw out its dummy, by going for a No Deal Brexit, was always an empty threat against the EU, because whilst it might cause temporary discomfort for the EU, it would be utterly devastating for Britain, and spell the end of the Tories for at least a generation.

The threat of No Deal was never aimed at the EU, it was always intended as a threat aimed at British MP’s, particularly Tory MP’s, but as has been seen recently, it was also aimed at all MP’s. May’s aim was always to string things out to the last minute, so that she could say to MP’s either back any deal I cobble together with the EU, or else your only option will be to impose a No Deal solution. That is why they are doing everything in their power to limit the choice of parliament to only those two options.

Of course, May knows that her Brextremist wing would be quite happy with a No Deal solution. Its the ideological windmill they have been tilting at for the last 30 years and more. The Bojos, Moggs, Lawsons and so on, have no clue what they would actually do in the event of such a No Deal solution, any more than the Tories, as a whole, had a clue what alternative they might put in place of the EU, at the time they invoked Article 50, and they have still no clue today. But, if, as it must, such a No Deal solution went pear-shaped, very quickly, the Bojos, Moggs and Lawsons can simply sit back on their millions, and escape to the continent, the Caribbean, or wherever they choose, and leave the rest of us to suffer the dire consequences of their recklessness, much as the bankers did in 2008, when we had to bail them out.

So, threatening them with a No Deal solution is not much of a threat either. The threat is aimed at the Tory Remainers, and those spineless Labour MP’s that May hopes to be able to convince that they have to vote for her bad deal rather than a No Deal alternative. But, if they think about it, for a moment, it’s no threat to them either. Its true that May and her millions could, like Bojo et al, simply escape from the chaos they have caused too, just like Cameron “kicking his toes up in the Riviera”, as Danny Dyer put it. But, May has other concerns. She knows that a No Deal Brexit would be catastrophic. It would mean the end of her government as the chaos ensued. It would mean her political legacy would be even worse than that of Cameron, and it would mean that the Tories, out of government for a generation, would lose all usefulness for the class interests that May and her ilk represent.

So, May will not carry through a No Deal Brexit, if her Chequers fudge is rejected. She would be forced to plead with the EU for an extension of Article 50, so as to prevent that happening, and would then have to find some more permanent escape route probably, by calling a General Election, so that Labour would be left to deal with the mess, just as Labour governments have always had to clear up the messes left by Tory governments over the last century, or by calling a third referendum.

So, there is absolutely no reason for Labour MP’s to be strong armed into voting for a bad deal as an alternative to No Deal. They should call May’s bluff, because its an empty threat. In fact, as last night’s Channel 4 Brexit Special showed they would be stupid to do so. The extent to which Barry Gardiner’s jaw dropped on the release of the polling figures shows just how short-sighted Labour’s position over the last two years has been. It has always been the case that around 65% of Labour voters supported Remain, with only a slightly smaller percentage of Labour voters in the areas that voted Leave. Now, more than 70% of Labour voters support Remain, with around 90% of Labour members supporting Remain.

The poll showed that overall 54% now support Remain, as against only 46% backing Leave. In addition to Scotland and Northern Ireland that previously backed Remain, now every country in the United Kingdom backs Remain, with majorities for Remain also now in areas like the North-East, which previously backed Leave. All those soft-Left Blair-right Labour MP’s that were wrongly arguing they had to back Leave, because that was the will of the people, particularly the people in their constituencies have lost the last shaky crutch on which they were resting.

All of the closet Lexiters who were hiding behind fake arguments about democracy and abiding by the will of the people have now been left nude. If they truly believed the nonsense they were purveying about respecting the will of the people, they should now respect the will of the people to Remain in the EU, as indicated by the poll. At the very least, they should be prepared to test that will of the people, as indicated by the poll via the ballot box, preferably in the form of a General Election in which Labour would stand on a programme of ending Brexit, and joining with other European socialists in fighting for a Workers Europe. Otherwise, they are privileging the votes of the dead against the votes of the living, which is a strange thing for any consistent democrat let alone socialist to do.


Originally published at boffyblog.blogspot.com on November 6, 2018.