Communist Party general secretary ROB GRIFFITHS sets out the party's view on Britain's political crisis after the EU referendum.
DEFEAT THE DOUBLE COUP AGAINST DEMOCRACY – FOR A LEFT EXIT FROM THE EU!
The referendum result represents a huge blow potentially to the ruling capitalist class in Britain, its hired politicians and its imperialist allies in the EU, the USA, IMF and NATO.
The response from the pro-EU Right has been to attempt a double coup against democracy – against the democratic will of the people of Britain to leave the EU and against the democratic election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader. In response, the Left must now defend the principle of democracy and turn this referendum result into a widescale defeat for the whole EU-IMF-NATO axis.
The EU exit vote was primarily an expression of working class anger and frustration that government, political parties and politicians do not represent them in matters of employment, education, housing, public services, living standards and the quality of life generally. Other concerns included the erosion of sovereignty and self-government and the real or perceived consequences of mass immigration.
The 'Leave' majority was only made possible because substantial minorities of Labour, Green, LibDem and SNP supporters, feminists and citizens of Asian origin rejected EU membership.
The people have spoken and popular sovereignty now demands that the Westminster Parliament accepts and implements their decision.
However, in defence of its own class interests, the ruling class has since begun to reorientate itself around a strategy to subvert the June 23 decision. This includes attempts to freeze the status quo until October, delay negotiations, build momentum for a second referendum and float the idea that the pro-EU majority of MPs should treat the 'Leave' result as advice to be ignored.
Certainly, the Cameron-Osborne regime cannot be trusted to negotiate Britain's exit from the European Union. Together with the Prime Minister himself, it should resign forthwith.
Nor can other pro-big business, pro-imperialist and pro-neoliberal Tory MPs be trusted to resist the pressures from the City of London and big business to frustrate Britain's exit or leave on terms which maintain 'free market' freedoms for monopoly capital while punishing the people with more austerity.
Any Labour involvement with the Tories in a 'national' or coalition government to negotiate Britain's exit could only be an act of collaboration with monopoly capital and the ruling class.
The only consistently democratic solution is to hold a General Election so that electors can decide who should represent them in the EU exit negotiations.
The attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn is intended to prevent the election of a Labour government headed by a socialist who has opposed every EU treaty along the road to an anti-democratic, imperialist and militarist United States of Europe.
Those pro-EU Labour MPs involved in the coup attempt hold democracy in Britain and in the Labour Party in contempt. They have lost touch with millions of working class people on this and other issues and are in danger of allowing the drift of working class electors to UKIP to continue. Their attempts to shift responsibility for their own failure onto Jeremy Corbyn are breathtaking in their hypocrisy and must be resisted by all democrats, progressives and socialists in the Labour Party and its affiliated trade unions.
All democrats inside the labour movement and beyond should unite behind Corbyn's demand that Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union be invoked to trigger the timetable for Britain's withdrawal.
He is the only party leader who can be trusted to negotiate an EU exit in the interests of the working class and peoples of Britain.
Outside the EU, there should be no more subjection to a capitalist 'free market', with big business free to move capital and commodities regardless of the economic, social and environmental consequences for workers, the people, their communities and society as a whole.
Between now and the next General Election, a resurgence of industrial and popular action against Tory policies of austerity, privatisation, nuclear rearmament and imperialist war would greatly increase the prospect of victory for a left-led Labour Party. This, in turn, would make possible the transformation of 'Brexit' into a 'Lexit', an exit from the EU to the left.
All Eurosceptic and anti-EU voices in the labour movement must now speak up and help return the Labour Party and the trade union movement to the head of the anti-EU movement in Britain, so that the left and progressive case against EU membership again predominates.
This will also enable a principled Left response to those now calling for a second independence referendum in Scotland. Such a referendum, based on the assumption that Scotland can retain membership of the EU, will be a call for a return to neoliberal economics, austerity and privatisation – as against a Left programme for Britain that combines progressive federalism with a radical redistribution of wealth to workers and their families in every nation and region of Britain.
In any event, it will also be vital to counteract the upsurge of xenophobia and racism unleashed by leading forces on both sides of the referendum campaign. The vote to leave the EU must not be the pretext for a fresh round of restrictions on immigration from outside Europe, while the proposal to withhold tax and welfare benefits from migrant workers here should now be dropped. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice rulings banning trade union and government action to enforce equal terms and conditions for migrant workers must be replaced by laws guaranteeing equal treatment for all workers regardless of their country of origin.
The unity and mobilisation of progressive and labour movement forces is essential in order to explain the benefits that immigration has brought, especially when planned, and to counter the divisive and anti-working class appeal of UKIP and other right-wing and far-right parties. Popular support must be won for an anti-racist immigration policy rather than alienating yet more people with abstract, anarchistic and in essence 'free market' calls for 'no borders'.
'Fortress Europe' has compelled EU member states to raise their barriers against immigration from outside Europe and has recently led to the dirty deal with Turkey to turn away refugees. We now need to fight to ensure that a Britain outside the EU uses its freedom to welcome people to work, study and live here from around the world and leads Europe in providing a safe haven for asylum seekers and refugees.
As far as the future of the EU is concerned, Britain's decision will be welcomed by many trade unionists, socialists and communists across Europe who are resisting EU-driven or EU-backed austerity, privatisation and 'labour flexibility' measures.
In particular, Britain's communists salute the courageous people of Greece who have been bearing the brunt of the EU-IMF austerity offensive. Their experience alerted millions of British voters to the class and anti-democratic character of the EU and the dangers of continued membership.
The referendum result has already been welcomed by communist and workers' parties in Portugal, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the former Yugoslavia and by militant trade unionists in France.
It should inspire all left and progressive forces in Europe to consider how best to strengthen cooperation and solidarity between the peoples and nations of Europe on a different basis to the anti-democratic, big business and imperialist EU.
To this end, discussions need to take place between communist, socialist and workers' parties across Europe about the way forward for the left and working class movement, in the new conditions opened up by Britain's democratic vote against EU membership.