A jobs first Brexit? From the Tories? It’s just another soundbite. Let’s face it, Brexiting Tories don’t even want their own leader to keep her own job. May wobbles on only because those who would shaft her don’t have the guts. Cameron bailed from the job as soon as the 2016 Referendum he forced on Britain went the wrong way for him. Two Brexit Secretaries, David Davies and Dominic Raab, have proved themselves mice and run away from the Brexit deals they knew were not negotiable. And as for Boris Johnson and his coterie of other Tory unmemorable Brexit resignees? They are no more than rats deserting a sinking ship, for HMS Brexit is the ship that is truly sunk.
Theresa May pretty much said so herself in her much under-reported remark last week that the choice now facing us was either her deal, no deal or, no Brexit at all. No Brexit at all. Hallelujah. The truth is out, and it comes from the Tory horse’s mouth. The last two years will come to be regarded by historians as one of the greatest episodes in British diminishment since Lord North lost America. To sign up to her deal, is to hand the crown of this scepter’d isle to Brussels.
The great irony of the Tory referendum will be that it has allowed the colonial power delusions at the heart of Leave to lead to our completely colonisation. Not freed at all. May’s transition is no safe space, it’s part of her deal. It sends us straight to Euro jail without passing go - with no get out of jail free card. We are being stuffed by the EU because our negotiating hand is incredibly weak. There is simply no Brexit which can safeguard our jobs or our livelihoods, so vassalage is now the weapon of choice to help minimise economic damage.
Those of us who genuinely believe in a workers first, livelihoods first, jobs first country should pause for thought - pause to think about what national strategy now best serves our class, our kids futures and our old folk. Let’s also think about our neighbours who have come to live in our streets and staff our economy from hospitality to health, from education to transport. These people are not “queue jumpers”, migration is not a crime. No matter your country of origin we are all Britain’s workers, all of whose jobs we must put first.
I have long argued for honesty and candour at the heart of the Brexit debate. For my liking, too many of our class were amongst the 52% voting for Tory Brexit lies. But too many working people have always voted for the Tories, which is why we have Tory governments. It doesn’t mean we believe that things should stay the Tory way just because the majority voted for them. No, we carry on campaigning for change in hearts and minds and a Labour victory at a fresh election.
My union now wants May’s “no Brexit at all” as the real alternative to her deal or no deal. This is the best option to safeguard working people from an impending disaster. Thankfully, the Labour Party says all options remain on the table. And foregrounding no Brexit at all as the best option will involve telling some truths in public. And who better than Jeremy Corbyn to do this? Grown popular by his straight-talking socialist politics, the man usurped all political convention when after terror attacks during the last election campaign, he said: “We must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. A Labour government would ensure that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country.”
Straight talking on Brexit will land Jeremy in Downing Street, as the Tories know only too well. Brexit is now very much at the core of Britain’s foreign policy, and a man whose political life has been devoted to the cause of international peace is a formidable opponent to May and her unwinnable Tory war with Europe.
After last year’s suicide attack in Manchester, Jeremy said ””I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people.” Quite. And there is no love lost on our workers in this Tory Brexit. There’s not even love lost amongst Tories toward each other. They are united by one thing only: keeping Corbyn out of Downing Street. In doing so, they are about to throw us into an EU vassalage jail rather than allow Labour to take power.
So while we prepare for a General Election victory, we must also plan to save our people from being sunk with this Tory Brexit ship. Once May’s deal is voted down in the House, Labour must consider adding a “no Brexit at all” amendment. Politicians must rise to the national challenge of doing the right thing - it will be an opportunity for Parliament to redeem itself for its disastrous and misguided vote for war with Iraq.
If politicians miss the chance (and they can’t be trusted to grasp it), then it is incumbent on Labour to plant the grenade of a public vote on May’s deal with an option to remain. It would be a signal for our class of clear red water between us and the Tories. Vassalage is dreadful for us, but it’s not without consequence for the EU too. The best way our of this bind is to remain on a platform of reform. And Jeremy Corbyn is the very man who can galvanise the Left across Europe to deliver it.
And by this method Labour could yet transform itself and its huge membership into a force of national liberation - and in doing so creating the conditions in which the majority understands that our manifesto returns more control to the British people than the Tories ever will. We need the radical economic policies, which Jeremy Corbyn and John McConnell espouse. Decades of far too many of our people being left behind, punctuated by the Tories nasty political choice of austerity, made many vote against the status quo during the referendum.
Under Labour, our railways will come back to us from the ownership of privateers and the governments of Germany, Holland, France and Italy. Our utility companies will be returned back to British control from France and from China. And much more besides. Labour’s manifesto is the route sine bar non to taking back control - we just have to have the guts to shout it. And to admit, whilst its far from the socialist ideal, leaving our MEPs and commissioners in Brussels and retaining our seat at the Council of Ministers top table, will smooth the implementation of our ‘For the Many’ manifesto - so vassalage just ain’t a good place for Corbyn’s Labour to be. Brexit solves no problems for our dream of a workers first, livelihoods first and jobs first country. The negative economic shock accompanying any form of exit from the EU will simply make matters worse.
Labour must not compromise over this issue. Jeremy’s position of remain and reform is as right today as it was back in 2016 - it’s why a General Election is necessary. But I no more trust the Tories to give in gracefully before 2022 than I trust them to deliver a jobs first Brexit. Labour’s current policy is that once May’s rotten deal is sunk, all options remain on table. This stance is for now holding us in good stead but we can’t ride all the horses all of the time. It’s why I believe Labour should convene an emergency Labour Party Conference as soon as May’s deal is sunk so we can democratically decide which of the options on the table we should take.