The Blog

The Role of the Pro-Brexit Left in Throwing UK Migrants Under the Bus

The first stanza of WB Yeats' classic poem '' is the most apt description of the unfolding crisis that has engulfed Britain in the wake of the EU referendum; inarguably the worst political crisis the country has experienced in over a generation.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

The first stanza of WB Yeats' classic poem 'The Second Coming' is the most apt description of the unfolding crisis that has engulfed Britain in the wake of the EU referendum; inarguably the worst political crisis the country has experienced in over a generation.

Less than a week after 17 million people voted to rip Britain out of the EU the scale of the disaster that has resulted could not be clearer. The worst of the multiple layers of said disaster is not the lies that were told by the Leave campaign when it came to what Brexit would mean; is not that the Leave campaign had no plan for transition in the immediate and short term; and is not that sterling has plunged to a 30 year low and companies are already making plans to relocate out of the UK. It is not even that it has thrown both the Tories and Labour into complete and utter disarray.

No, the worst aspect of this crisis is the carnival of racism, reaction, and xenophobia it has unleashed across the country, with migrants and minorities suddenly made to feel like the enemy within as open season is declared on them by knuckle dragging racists and the pond life of the far right.

This is not Brexit the movie, this is Brexit the reality.

As someone who is not a member of the Labour Party but who supported Jeremy Corbyn's bid for the leadership, I have serious criticisms to make of that leadership in light of this disaster. The speculation that hasn't gone away over the sincerity of his advocacy of Remain, that his real feeling was anti EU, as it had been for many years in obeisance to the left wing anti-EU position championed by the late Tony Benn, is not merely the result of media intrigue or Blairite mischief making. I say this as somebody who participated in radio debates with Brexit campaigners during the campaign, one of them involving George Galloway.

Galloway repeatedly claimed in the run-up to the referendum that Corbyn was only pretending to support Remain in order to appease the shadow cabinet. Given that he is close to Corbyn's press secretary Seumas Milne, is anybody seriously suggesting that Galloway would be so bold to make such a serious claim, one questioning Corbyn's integrity, if he did not know it to be true? Labour's Kate Hoey made the same assertion, as did various less high profile Brexit supporters.

The reason this is so pertinent to where we are now is the fact that Corbyn is the only leader, apart from Ukip's Nigel Farage, who has called for Article 50 to be invoked immediately, triggering the formal process of Britain's exit from the EU, even though it would only deepen rather than ease the crisis the country is experiencing. Indeed, as the smoke clears it begins to become apparent that many on the left who supported Remain and Corbyn's leadership of a progressive Remain campaign may have been duped. The sight of a sea of far left SWP placards at the pro-Corbyn demo outside Parliament recently doesn't do much to instil faith either.

Overall, the pro-Brexit left have been exposed as fools and knaves whose role in this disaster is akin to the damage caused by a group of unsupervised five years olds let loose in a scientific laboratory with bunsen burners. Their refusal or failure to understand that this referendum was taking place in a right wing political context, that Brexit was a cause and a campaign driven by the most reactionary and regressive political current in the country, that it was less to do with opposition to the EU but opposition to immigration and migrants, will earn them a cold place in history. The fact they now have the temerity to scream loudest for unity behind Corbyn having spent the last three months opposing and undermining his leadership on Brexit/Remain must not be forgotten or placed aside as they seek to swiftly move on. The Bennite anti-EU position, previously mentioned, was based on the British economy and society of the 1970s, when Britain still had its own industrial base and was still a major manufacturing economy that was near self sufficient. In 2016 this is no longer the case. In 2016 the UK economy depends on its access to the single market, which if it is to have any influence over requires the country to be in the EU not out. A condition of membership of the European single market, as distinct from the EU, is free movement.

The outer reaches of the Brexit supporting left believed that Brexit would usher in something akin Russia circa 1917 when in reality is has ushered in something far closer to Germany circa 1935. It is a huge victory for the far right, legitimising the kind of racist, anti immigrant views and rhetoric last seen in this country in the 1970s when the National Front were on the march.

The biggest victims of Brexit, if allowed to stand, will be those alienated former Labour voters of the white working class who voted for it in the Midlands and in the North. The idea that Boris Johnson, IDS, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage, George Galloway's political chum, are champions of the working class is a complete non starter. As investment dries up, businesses and firms relocate, and the full economic horror comes to pass, pro Brexit voters will awaken from the dream of an 'independent Britain' into the reality of a Britain in which theirs and their children's futures have been mortgaged to the far right and far left fantasies of opportunists and political careerists, people who in truth could not care less about them or their predicament.

It is now for Britain's democratically elected Parliament to end this madness by voting it down. In doing so they will not be acting against democracy but in the interests of parliamentary sovereignty. More importantly they will be acting in the interests of decency and in solidarity with millions across the country who are appalled at the swamp of political and economic chaos the country has been plunged into, along with the racism and xenophobia that challenges us to act now and firmly before it gains enough traction to end a generation's worth of progress in this regard.

No if no buts, Brexit must be voted down.