The 17,410,742 votes for leaving the European Union constitute the highest total for anything in Britain’s history. Yet almost a year on the blockers are still trying to block, and Brexit is unfinished business – a fact laid bare in the various general election manifestos.
Workers will forget about the various wish lists (wisely, most won’t read them anyway). The only wish that matters is honouring the referendum and leaving the EU. That will be work enough for any government for the next few years.
For the opposition parties, duplicity reigns. Labour says it accepts the result, but will fight against a “hard Tory Brexit”, whatever that means. Look further, and Labour’s manifesto calls for Britain to stay in the EU’s single market – which would be no Brexit at all, hard or soft.
The Conservatives have come under fire from Fishing For Leave for not coming out in their manifesto for the 200-mile exclusive economic zone, leading to rapid ministerial “explanations”. The LibDems, who are unabashed by logical absurdity, say that the Common Fisheries Policy “has failed to deliver the economic environmental objectives necessary” but then say that a “hard” Brexit will further damage the industry.
Labour, meanwhile, say absolutely nothing about fishing in their manifesto – not a single word. As an omission this is surpassed only by the Greens, whose sole comment about industry is that it must be green.
‘All call for policies that would be illegal inside the EU.’
But all the political parties opposing Brexit have one thing in common. All call for policies that would be illegal inside the EU. The list is long: it includes public ownership of rail, energy and water (Labour); using public procurement to boost local economies (LibDems); moving agricultural support away from large landowners (LibDems); controlling our own trade deals (Labour, LibDems, Greens).
Labour even talks about working with “our WTO partners”, even though Britain hasn’t been represented at the World Trade Organization (or its predecessor) for more than 40 years, and won’t be until we leave the EU. Its empty rhetoric even extends to completely overturning the economic laws of capitalism: “Working with trade unions, we will end workplace exploitation,” they puff.
Anti-democracy rules. The LibDems – who cannot envisage any kind of Brexit agreement that would be better than staying in the EU – and the Greens want a second referendum to overturn the first! Labour aren’t calling for another referendum, but they do want the ability to overturn the first in parliament.
Manifestos, of course, are simply politicians’ promises, and in this election (as in every general election) there’s little else to go by. But voters looking to stop the blockers will delve deeper, and will ask about the track record on Brexit of their own constituency candidates.
Whatever the result, whatever the majority, the people of Britain will have to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire. Our country is being dragged down by capitalism’s decline. But the precondition of progress is that we leave the EU. Then we can begin the politics of renewal.