14 Days Remaining

Monday 26th
posted by Morning Star in Features

The Tories are a zombie government deluded with notions of a bygone, imperial age. It falls to Labour to show the young that another Britain is possible, says MANUEL CORTES

JEREMY CORBYN’s appearance on the main stage at Glastonbury on Saturday was inspiring. Tens of thousands cheered as he called out the anti-Donald Trump slogan: “Build bridges, not walls.” Jeremy should consider further adapting that hugely popular slogan to make it a guiding principle at the heart of Labour’s Brexit strategy.

The last general election changed everything. Another world does now indeed look possible and will be ushered in when Labour is elected when — not if — the next election is called. A Tory Brexit is no longer inevitable.

How different the political landscape looks from eight short weeks ago. Corbyn’s Labour government at the helm of the Brexit negotiations is now a very likely prospect.

As a government-in-waiting, now is the right time for us to offer the hope of a people’s Brexit, which would steer Britain away from the cliff edge to which the Tory/Ukip self-interested gamble has driven our country’s relationship with Europe, and the futures of the legions of newly politicised young people who want hope now and for their futures.

The Labour Party’s top priorities during negotiations are our jobs, our economy and our prosperity.

We are clear, that we want tariff-free access to the single market and no new non-tariff burdens for businesses. We have also said that the exact mechanisms to achieve this are less important than ensuring our jobs, our economy and our living standards are protected, rather than damaged by Brexit.

Like the overwhelming number of young people who have swelled our party’s ranks and turned up in record numbers to support Labour, we think that free movement of people is cool.

Switzerland has tariff-free access to the single market but recently tried to limit free movement by seeking to introduce immigration quotas for EU nationals.

Brussels told the Swiss very bluntly that if introduced, Switzerland’s privileged access to the single market would be terminated, and Brussels won. Free movement remains in Switzerland, which in the end chose not to inflict upon itself the huge economic harm of losing tariff-free access to the single market. Britain is in the throes of the same dilemma.

Labour currently appears to be signalling it favours an arrangement similar to those reached with countries who are either members of the European Economic Area (EEA) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

But a Labour government could negotiate something entirely different. It could prioritise future access to a market to which we already belong without removing our voice from having a big say in the shaping of it.

Pursuit of EEA or EFTA style deals means the EU will continue to make the rules for us.

It means we will have jumped from the frying pan and into the fire by leaving the EU, but leaving Brussels in charge of decision-making — never mind a veto on key issues.

This is an unnecessary end-game and is profoundly undemocratic.

The Norwegian government characterises its relationship with the EU as “taxation without representation” because the country pays proportionally more than Britain does now as an EU member to have tariff-free access to the single market.

I voted in favour of Remain last year with several strong reservations, which had nothing whatsoever to do with free movement and everything to do with the neoliberal direction in which the EU was heading.

I also wanted its parliament to gain more powers so that decisions could be made more transparently rather than through shady, behind-closed-door deals at the Council of Ministers. I want a reformed people’s Europe but we can’t achieve this by pursuing an exit plan that leaves us with less power than we have now.

TSSA members have been long concerned that leaving the EU would be disastrous on an economic, political and human level.

The many motions submitted to this year’s conference, from different branches across the country, reflect the heightening of those anxieties as the cost of leaving becomes more apparent.

A recruitment crisis for nurses in our NHS is already upon us, with just 46 EU-national nurses this year wanting to bring their skills and expertise here. The pound is sinking, inflation is rising fast and living standards are taking a hiding as wages fall.

Companies are already bypassing Britain when considering future investment.

And, a serious threat of relocation of jobs looms because of fears of future trade tariffs when selling goods and services to our former European partners.

At conference delegates are expressing their concerns that unless a different Brexit plan emerges soon,  we are heading towards the worst of both world’s: a neoliberal free-market arrangement and an even greater democratic deficit. Labour continues to say that the exact mechanism towards achieving our aim of tariff-free trade is less important that safeguarding our jobs, our economy and our prosperity.

However, if we fail to reach a deal which secures our Party's aspiration, staying within the EU must therefore be an option left open to us.

A Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, must initiate a Brexit Peace Process, rebuild the bridges being burned by  Brexiteers and tear down the walls of any Tory proposition that will harm our people by keeping much needed migrant labour out.  

Such a process would chime with the over-whelming majority of our Party members and, with all those young people who hope that another world really is really possible and have just voted us their government-in-waiting.
Theresa May is a Zombie Prime Minister at the head of a discredited government. The Tories aren't a negotiating force to be reckoned with. They are a laughing stock.  

The general election has given Labour an incredibly strong Brexit hand. The millions of young people galvanised into campaigning and voting for our Party mostly want us to remain within the EU.  

Tens of thousands of voices sang out “Oh! Jeremy Corbyn,” from Glastonbury fields because they see him as a conduit for open, fairer futures not jeopardised by deluded notions of the greatness of a bygone and bloody, imperial British era.

They cheered for Jezza’s Shelley readings. They have vested their trust in him that in his Labour Party, we are the hope that our country will be better for them now and throughout their lifetime.  

Let's have the courage to detoxify the rubbish said about free movement. Free movement is about the doctors and nurses who help us recover when we attend accident and emergency, it's about the brickies and sparkies whose skills and hard graft keep our economy motoring, it is about breaking down barriers and bringing people together.

Socialists must cherish and nurture this and consider staying in the EU as a Labour antidote to the poison of the Tory Brexit danced to the Ukip tune.

Jeremy Corbyn has successfully changed the narrative about our economy. I have every confidence he can do the same for free movement. The problems our people face stem from Thatcher's economic settlement and have nothing whatsoever to do with free movement.  

The tragic human-made disaster at Grenfell Tower is a terrible, poignant reminder that exploitative bosses, taking advantage of cheaper workers from abroad only happens because successive British governments have deregulated our labour market enabling employers to make even greater profits at our expense.

An incoming Labour government will end this scandal and rightly confine it to the dustbin of history. A People’s Brexit can now be about taking back control of our economy for the many and negotiating a reformed relationship with the EU, and help shape a People's Europe in which we build bridges and tear down walls.  

As a government-in-waiting, it falls to Labour to show another Brexit world is possible: no Brexit at all.

Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the TSSA.