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Issue #1860      March 13, 2019

Brexit:

Fact or fiction?

There is a lot more fiction than fact in the Brexit debate, the smoke and mirrors being created by the establishment here in Ireland, in Britain, and in the EU. The government are up to their necks in the propaganda war, and have failed to deal with Brexit in Ireland’s interest. Instead they have propped up the false narrative created in Brussels.

Ever since the Brexit vote in Britain the EU and the majority of the British ruling class, supported by the mainstream media, have attempted to create the narrative that the vote was a result of xenophobia whipped up by the far right and was voted in because of opposition to immigration.

This is pure fiction. The fact of the matter is that the areas where there is least immigration were the ones that voted for Brexit by a massive majority. The reason these areas voted for Brexit had nothing to do with immigration. These were the industrial heartlands of Britain, which have been devastated since Britain joined the EU. British industries have been destroyed, and with them the lives of millions of working people.

The vote to leave had nothing to do with xenophobia and everything to do with the damage the EU has done to British industry and jobs.

Teresa May’s phoney Brexit deal has been rejected by the Parliament and has left the House of Commons in disarray. It is now likely that there will be a no-agreement Brexit. This will mean that the so-called “backstop” is out of the picture, with the EU threatening Ireland with a “hard border.”

We must remember who’s doing the threatening. It is not Britain’s border, or Ireland’s border: it is the EU’s border. It is up to the EU to sort out this problem in the interest of its members, in other words Ireland, the only member affected by it.

This is what the government should be dealing with: a smooth transition for Ireland and its citizens. It should not be assuming that Britain is going to remain in the customs union with an agreed backstop, thereby reneging on the result of the referendum, which was that Britain would leave the EU – not “kind of” leave it, partially leave it, or “sort of” leave it. It was a British exit from the EU. Plain and simple.

Because of EU rules, Ireland is not allowed to have, negotiate or make a bilateral trade agreement with Britain similar to what it had before we joined the EEC in 1973.

What our gombeen political class are not doing is demanding from the EU that the interests of Ireland are catered for after Brexit, even from their neo-liberal standpoint. Instead the subservient government are siding with the EU against Britain, which also happens to be our largest trading partner, and against the decision made by its citizens to leave the EU.

The EU is doing to Britain exactly what it did to Ireland during the financial crash, when Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the EU Central Bank, told Michael Noonan that “a bomb would go off in Dublin” if we did not pay off the bond-holders and bail out the banks. They have now done exactly the same to Britain, saying there will be no agreement to leave the EU without the “backstop” and therefore an agreement only on the EU’s terms.

The EU and its anti-democratic nature has once again proved itself to be an enemy of independent, sovereign decision-making.

Quite obviously, the backstop is unacceptable to Britain, as it claims the north-east of Ireland as part of its national territory. What is not being mentioned is that under the Belfast Agreement there can be no change to the constitutional position of the North without a majority of the citizens voting for it. A majority of them voted to remain in the EU; so this has constitutional implications for Britain, the EU, and internationally.

A majority of the British ruling class, along with the EU, wish for Britain to remain within the EU. They decided to renege on the decision by the British people by remaining in the customs union, with all its regulatory obligations, thinking that the British public could be fooled by the establishment’s narrative of pending economic disaster. But the British working class are not fools. They did not fall for this narrative, and they know why they voted to leave the EU: for economic independence and to regain national sovereignty.

Under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (article XXIV:5, clause 3), Britain will be allowed to have free trade with the EU for ten years while it negotiates a new trade deal. This is not being discussed on the radio or in the newspapers; instead Operation Fear is imposed from every angle. People are being told they won’t be able to buy even a sandwich or a pint of Guinness after Brexit.

This is all utter nonsense; and the citizens of Britain and Europe will see through the lies. The open borders for trade within the EU are self-regulatory, in that all members comply with the regulations, and there are no tariffs. If Britain wants to deal with the EU after Brexit it will have to do the same; so there is no need for queues at borders, whether “hard” or “soft.”

There will be random checks, such as exist now, for what would be deemed illegal goods. (Mind you, this didn’t stop Tesco putting horse meat in beefburgers.) If British companies are found to be outside the regulations they will be dealt with by the legal system.

The only thing standing in the way of this is if the EU wants to impose tariffs on trade with Britain. In that case it would not be possible, and there would be delays, or Britain could choose to end trade with the EU; but with so much trade between Britain and EU countries it is unlikely that the capitalist class will want to lose this market.

The EU has to be seen to punish Britain for leaving, or other countries will demand to leave also. But whatever happens, the decision will be made by big business and the ruling elite in their own class interest.

Many countries would be very happy to begin trading with Britain that are not allowed now under EU regulations. They will now be free to trade wherever they want.

The British people have taken the first step towards economic independence by rejecting control by EU capital. The next step is for us to do the same with the native capitalist class.

Socialist Voice

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