Second anniversary of Brexit Referendum: Hysteria and division surround Brexit votes and negotiations

June 23 marked the second anniversary of the referendum called by then Prime Minister David Cameron on the issue of whether to Remain in or Leave the European Union. June 8 was also the first anniversary of the snap election called by current Prime Minister Theresa May that was supposed to provide strong and stable government after Cameron resigned following the Leave result in the referendum.

The referendum was not designed to resolve the question of whether to remain in or leave the European Union. Nor was this the issue facing the working people of Britain. The problems facing society were not to be laid solely at the feet of either leaving or remaining in the European Union.

Neither are the problems facing society going to be resolved through a “no deal” Brexit, a “bad deal” Brexit, or a “soft Brexit.” There is anarchy in the realm of production and in the global economy at large. A “sovereign economy” of Britain, which “takes back control” from the European Union, is a phantasm. The global imperialists dominate the economy.

When questions come up such as “Who owns Britain?” analysts estimate that no less than half of companies in Britain are part of international cartels, monopolies or conglomerates.[1] This underscores whose interests are served by neo-liberal global trade in today’s world. The big powers in control of the European Union are in sharp contradiction with one another and whether or not Britain is in or out, what it wants is to “have its cake and eat it too.” What the peoples of all of Europe desire, Britain included, is their own control over the direction of their economies.

The Prime Minister of Britain, Theresa May, and her coterie have become completely bogged down in the issue of leaving the European Union with talk of a “rules-based international order.” The hard fact is that this is pie-in-the-sky. Even within the Conservative Party, competing private interests are such that they cannot reach consensus “through dialogue.” The financial oligarchy of the City of London is amongst the most powerful in the world as are the British armament manufacturers which aim to make Britain the centre of a trade in war.

The working people of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are very much involved in the kind of arrangements they think will benefit the people. Keeping them in check is also one of the major preoccupations of the ruling elites in both Britain and the European Union, which is itself undergoing a profound crisis as a result of the contradictions within its ranks over who is to benefit from trade-relations and decision-making processes.

Based on an editorial in Workers’ Weekly, on-line newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), June 23, 2018.

Note

1.See article “Who owns Britain?“ in openDemocracy.


British government cannot reconcile its anti-social and pro-war direction with the needs of the people

– Workers’ Weekly –

This week saw another chain of events that show how Theresa May’s government cannot reconcile its anti-social and pro-war direction with the well-being and needs of the people. On June 17, Theresa May announced that the National Health Service (NHS) in England is to get an extra £20 billion a year by 2023 as a “70th birthday present.” By June 19, after criticism from her military chiefs, she was boasting to visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that “we are the biggest defence budget in Europe,” and “we will continue to contribute in a whole variety of ways across conventional, cyber and nuclear capabilities.”

This statement on June 15, by the Prime Minister on the NHS had no further detail and came at a time that the government said it would launch a Green Paper detailing future spending on health and social care. Of course, there was no mention of the further investment desperately needed in the NHS in Scotland, Wales and the north of Ireland for which the Westminster government has overall funding responsibility. Neither was there any recognition of the depth of the crisis in the NHS caused by the neo-liberal direction driven by the big health corporations and state institutions under their control, or the 3 per cent “efficiency savings” – cuts that are imposed on all NHS Trusts every year. Commenting on the interview, the BBC report said that the £114 billion NHS budget in England “will rise by an average of 3.4 per cent annually – but that is still less than the 3.7 per cent average rise the NHS has had since 1948. The prime minister said in the interview that this would be funded partly by a ‘Brexit dividend,’ but also hinted at tax rises.” This brought comments in Parliament on June 18, especially from Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, who at PMQs [the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions Session – Ed. Note] questioned the “Brexit dividend” and asked, “Which taxes are going up and for whom?”

It also was reported in the Financial Times and other papers that Theresa May had told “stunned military chiefs” and defence secretary Gavin Williamson that “the MoD [Ministry of Defence] would need to make cuts and end having a full spectrum of military capabilities.” The reports said this sent “shockwaves through the Ministry of Defence” that the Treasury will not find any extra money for the armed forces when a review of British capabilities concludes in the autumn.

Then on June 17, Jens Stoltenberg, who was visiting Britain ahead of next month’s NATO summit in Brussels with government leaders, called on Britain to maintain its role as one of the world’s biggest military spenders. He also met with Theresa May and held a joint press conference with her where May said that “the reports that you have read are not correct.” She said that Britain will continue to be that leading contributor to the alliance but also a leading “defence nation” and will continue to spend 2 per cent of GDP on the military.

Click to enlarge

The NHS is a vital part of the well-being to the people in a socialized economy. This fact has to be recognized and not diminished to one of being a “cost” to the economy to be played off against the ambitions of the ruling elite to interfere in other countries and go to war. Health workers create value in the socialized economy. The huge value they produce needs to be claimed by the government in large part from the monopolies and oligopolies that consume and profit from this value in having a healthy workforce. The crisis of NHS funding shows that the NHS cannot be reconciled with such an archaic tax system that does not claim this value. It also cannot be reconciled with the pro-war ambitions of the imperialist ruling elite, and their striving to retain British military interference and carry out wars of aggression with the empire-building aim of making Britain a “leading power” in the world to serve their interests and the interests of the imperialist system of states.

(June 23, 2018. Edited slightly for publication.)

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