Apr 09 2019

BREXIT AND THE RISE OF RIGHT NATIONAL POPULISM FOLLOWING THE 2016 EURO-REFERENDUM

The following article, written by Allan Armstrong, is the second last chapter of his new book, From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit – The Forging and the Break-up of the UK  and Britishnessness. It is hoped to publish the full book on line. Anybody who would like a pre-publication pdf copy of the book send an e-mail to intfrobel@yahoo.com

 

BREXIT AND THE RISE OF RIGHT NATIONAL POPULISM FOLLOWING THE 2016 EURO-REFERENDUM

 

From the ‘Peoples Vote’ demonstration in London on 23.3.19

The 2016 Euro-referendum highlighted the divisions that had emerged amongst the British ruling class over the UK’s future relationship with the European Union (EU). But it was the 2007/8 Financial Crisis which bought about the preconditions foe this split. This crisis showed that the UK economy wasn’t bearing up too well, and British politicians could see that their influence amongst the Council of Ministers on the top table of the EU was shrinking.

When the UK first joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, a section of the British ruling class had been unhappy. They still looked to the old days of Empire, and for preferential trade with the white Commonwealth. They sought to preserve their white, male-dominated, Greater British world alongside Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Rhodesia (whilst still giving support to apartheid South Africa). They also wanted to ditch most connections with the old non-white Empire, now that these  had contributed to post-war black immigration. However, the more pragmatic majority of the British ruling class saw the economically expanding EEC as a good market in which to make profits. Once the UK joined, transnational companies, with some headquartered in the UK and some not, began to locate their production facilities across several EEC member states. The ownership of commercial and industrial capital became more interconnected. The City of London had already been operating, with the backing of the US financial sector, in the eurodollar market, and quickly took on an important banking and commercial role within the EEC.

As a result, the reactionary, and openly racist, anti-EEC section of the British ruling class became more marginal. Enoch Powell, its leading political representative, was forced to join the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). He became MP for South Down in October 1979. Keen to remain relevant to all-UK politics, he argued, for the full reintegration of Northern Ireland within the UK – without any success, even in the UUP. However, he continued to connect his vision of a Greater Britain outside the EEC with his opposition to a black community within the UK. The Right often supplemented their anti-EEC national chauvinism and racism with misogyny and homophobia. This was the political legacy taken up by the Tory Right and the later right national populists.

And by the late 1980s, even many one-time Euro/Germanophobic, anti-EEC, trade union leaders and officials (usually from an old CPGB ‘socialism in one country’ backgound), who had joined with the Powellites in the 1975 referendum campaign, in opposition to EEC membership had switched to giving it some guarded support. The EEC now offered some limited protection for workers’ conditions, as well as providing regional and social funds. Only an old guard of dedicated pro-USSR CPGBers maintained their total opposition to the EEC, to be supplemented on occasions by the Trotskyist ‘British roaders’ in Militant.

It took until 1993 for the EEC to reach the Maastricht Agreement, which entrenched the Single European Market, and marked the ascendancy of neo-liberalism in what was now the European Union (EU). In the process, strains developed between member states such as Germany, France and the Benelux countries, on one hand, and the UK, backed externally by the US, on the other. Finance-led neo-liberalism was now in the ascendancy across the globe. But in the original EEC core member states, the residual strength of the trade unions meant that moves towards the more market fundamentalist US/UK neo-liberal approach were partly offset by the retention of some features of the older social market approach, e.g. the Social Chapter provision.

In the UK, however, the trade unions had suffered a major defeat in 1985, and Thatcher and later New Labour were able to resist much of the EEC/EU Social Chapter provisions.  The Conservatives’ alliance with the US neo-liberal Republicans was continued with New Labour’s alliance with Bill Clinton’s neo-liberal Democrats. Indeed the military component of this alliance continued under Tony Blair, when he joined Republican George Bush in the Iraq War in 2003, at a time when all the original six EEC, now EU member states declined to become involved.  Both the Conservatives and New Labour continued to see their role as acting in the EU as a ‘Trojan Horse’ for full-blown US imperial interests.

The EU is a treaty organisation between existing states and is not a state itself. It has no army, police force or local bureaucracy to override those of its member states. In does have a powerful executive – the Council of Ministers – but it derives its power from the executives of its member states. The UK executive, based on the prime minister and his/her inner cabinet, has direct links to senior state officers in the armed forces and security agencies, leading members of the House of Lords, and to the monarchy through Privy Council.  In the absence of the key features of a state, there are no EU-wide equivalents for the Council of Ministers. The UK executive also has close links with the senior judiciary and civil servants. And the EU’s Council of Ministers has close links to the European Court of Justice and the Commission. The Commission serves a similar function to the senior civil servants in the UK. All those serving the UK executive, including the MPs, MSPs and MWAs, and senior state officers, swear an oath of loyalty to the Crown. All those serving the EU executive work to a written constitution based on rules and regulations.

The European parliament remains a largely decorative feature, with limited legislative powers for the EU, and hence limited consequences for its member states. The UK parliament has far more legislative powers, but these can be overridden, especially in times of crisis. As well as the undemocratic upper House of Lords, the UK state has its anti-democratic Crown Powers. Through these the prime minister can use the royal prerogative to railroad through executive decisions, and ‘Henry VIII clauses’ to amend legislation, or just override the House of Commons altogether.

Given the anti-democratic nature of the UK, the lack of democracy in the EU has been of no concern to British cabinet ministers. The UK state does not recognise popular sovereignty, and its executive power is even more concentrated than that of the EU. The Council of Ministers faces competing pressures from the leaders of its constituent states. The brutal treatment by the Troika  – IMF, European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission – of Greece and Ireland, after member states turned private banking debts into sovereign public debt, following the 2007/8 Financial Crisis, has also been of no concern to British ministers. Alistair Darling worked to impose his own draconian austerity policies upon Ireland – leaving many mortgage payers at the mercy of vulture fund holders and losing their homes. Gordon Brown invoked the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act to try to force the Icelandic government to pay for private bank debts.[1] If British governments have showed any concern, it was that the EU might tighten up control over banking. This was very much opposed by the City of London, to which both Conservative and New Labour governments kow-towed.

Ever since the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the inner core of the EU leadership has been pursuing its own neo-liberal course, albeit at a slower rate than the UK and USA. Wall Street and the City remain the first and second placed global financial centres, whilst Frankfurt is only the tenth, and Paris is twenty- seventh. [2] The City has compensated for the declining role of sterling in the world (and hence the profits to be made from arbitrage) by trading in all the major currencies. 47% of all hedge funds in Europe are based in the UK with non-EU Switzerland as the base for a further 26%.[3] The holders of these funds are in no way tied to sterling and can make massive profits through sterling losses. Those financial institutions still headquartered in the City will move as much of their operations as necessary to wherever the highest profits are to be made. They will maintain their connections, though, with the highly profitable and largely unregulated British overseas tax havens. And the City still has very considerable interests in London (and its Edinburgh outlier), so will continue to pressure the UK government to prioritise these at the expense of other sections of the UK economy, and the interests of the majority.

The ECB is one EU institution, which has been developing a life of its own, very much like the City of London. The German Bundesbank is the dominant partner. The key mechanism for asserting this control is the EU’s euro currency, established in 1995 and now used by 19 member and 2 non-member states. The euro has replaced sterling as the second most traded currency in the world. Through the ECB, the Bundesbank can exercise greater control over European finances than it could from Frankfurt, with its relatively low position in the global financial order.

However, unlike the dollar or sterling, the euro does not have a single state to back its operation, so the Troika’s handling of the 2008 Financial Crisis, so obviously based on the Bundesbank’s dominant position in the ECB, led to challenges in Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain from national populists both of the left (e.g. Alex Tsipiras’ Syriza and Pablo Iglesias’ Podemos) and the right (e.g. Beppo Grille’s Five Stars Movement and the National Patriotic Alliance in Greece). To contain any such challenges in the future, Angela Merkel in Germany and Emmanuel Macron in France want to push for an integrated EU state. Tentative plans also include an independent EU military force. However, this conflicts with so many member states’ interests, opens up the likelihood of political conflict between France and Germany, as well as meeting growing internal opposition within both states. The unresolved economic crisis afflicting the EU, and in particular the Eurozone, is not creating the political conditions to establish greater unity. Indeed the pressures are to loosen up existing bureaucratic controls.

Both the City and the ECB are committed to neo-liberal austerity. The City prefers to couple this with acceptance of UK state backed quantitative easing (printing money) on the US Federal Reserve Bank model, in return for light regulation of its activities (especially its offshore tax havens). The ECB prefers to link austerity with strict budgetary controls but with greater regulation of bankers’ activities on the Bundesbank model. For those on the receiving end of these two attempts to protect banking interests, it is very much a Hobson’s Choice.

After Thatcher’s involvement in the intial European Single Market negotiations in the 1980s, which she supported as a neo-liberal measure, she opposed any further integration of the EU. She made her feelings known about the Maastricht Treaty, but she had been forced to resign as prime minister by then. After this, she provided an inspiration to the Europhobic Right in the Conservative Party, and also the founders of the UKIP.[4] They all dreamed of leaving the EU one day. However, John Major followed by Tony Blair continued Thatcher’s original Eurosceptic approach. This meant using the UK’s membership to promote the most thoroughgoing US style neo-liberalism and to undermine any ambitions for a more unitary EU, with an independent foreign and military policy.

Gordon Brown, as the New Labour chancellor, positioned himself to the forefront of the US-led neo-liberal and imperialist offensive in the EU. One of his first deeds in 1998 was to remove any government accountabilty over the Bank of England. In 2003 he supported the Iraq War stating that, “My official role leading up to the conflict was to find the funds for it.”[5] These wars (and later wars in Libya and Syria), in which an estimated 31,000 civilians died directly and 360,000 indirectly in Afghanistan,[6]and over a million in Iraq,[7] have contributed to a major movement of asylum seekers. Successive UK governments have been the most hostile of the major EU states to taking in asylum seekers. This is despite the UK being one of the two most active EU states (the other being France) in creating the mayhem, which produced the mass movement of refugees in the Middle East and North Africa.

From 2001, the New Labour government opened up eight new immigration detention centres (to supplement the two the Conservatives had set up), mostly run by private companies.[8]  There are no legal limits to how long a person can be detained and there have been over thirty deaths in custody.[9] From 2009 to the end of 2017, between 2500 and 3500 migrants have been held in detention at any one time.[10]  New Labour also brought in eight Terrorism Acts between 2000 and 2010. A constant right wing media offensive accompanied all these events. As with the 1973 Prevention of Terrorism Act, which was partly designed to silence Irish opposition to UK repression, the later Terrorism Acts, under both New Labour and the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition, have also been designed to silence opposition to UK repression, but this time of Muslims in Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa and also domestically. And just as the Metropolitan Police had gunned down the innocent Harry Stanley in 1999, so they gunned down the innocent Brazilian,  in 2005, in what appeared to be a ‘kill first/ask questions later’ policy, introduced following the London bombings.

Things took a new turn, with a considerable bearing on official ‘Britishess’, once the New Labour’s Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act was passed in 2002. Under this act anybody seeking naturalisation or permanent residency had to pass a test on “British values, history, traditions and everyday life.”[11 ] In 2005, Brown issued a public statement, “The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over.”[12]  But there had never been any apologies, far less recompense, for the role the British Empire had played across the globe, and the effects are far from over. The British Empire has been responsible for the greatest extension of chattel slavery in history, the genocide of whole ethnic groups, e.g. the Boethuk in Newfoundland and the Tasmanian Aborigines, the state-backed imposition of the opium trade on China, the deaths of millions in famines in Ireland and India, and a divide-and-rule legacy that has led to this day to continued strife in partitioned Cyprus, India/Pakistan, Iraq/Kurdistan, partitioned Ireland and Israel/Palestine. Indeed Brown still supports the Israeli government, which has continued the British imperial project of ethnic cleansing.

But in the first decade of the 2000s, Brown wanted to airbrush such ‘British values’ from history. He was attempting to create a new ethnic or cultural basis for being officially recognised as being British. Not surprisingly this right wing way of thinking was seized upon eagerly by the Conservatives when they took office. Michael Gove, the Tory Right education minister, stated that, “We want to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation in all schools to promote fundamental British values…{including} tolerance {not equal rights} of those with different faiths and beliefs”. Unless of course they were Muslims, in which case schools would be subjected to the government’s counter-terrorism ‘Prevent’ strategy  – or “a domestic spying programme collecting intelligence about the beliefs of British Muslims not involved in criminal activity.”[13]

The result of all this has been another undermining of hybrid-Britishness. Following the anti-racist legislation of the mid 1970s, the UK state had begun to accept the Britishness of non-white British subjects. Many former colonial subjects now resident in the UK became Asian- (or Indian-, Pakistani- or Bangla Deshi-), West Indian- or African-British. And some people from these backgrounds were able to advance their careers to such an extent that even the previously openly racist Conservative Party accepted them. One such person was the Pakistani-British, Sayeeda Warsi, who became Conservative Party vice-chair and was later made a baroness. However, after criticising the Conservative government policy on Israel over its bombing of Gaza in 2014,[14] she has been increasingly slipped out of her Pakistani-British status, and been seen more as a Muslim. The UK state and right wing sections of the media have promoted Islamophobia. A consequence of this is the tendency to push all Muslims, including the British-born and the well off, into being non-British. Warsi, no longer on the up, began to notice the strong Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, particularly apparent in Zac Goldsmith’s failed London mayoral campaign against Sadiq Khan.

When David Cameron’s Conservative/Lib-Dems took office, those working in state and state-financed privatised agencies were given a strong indication of what was required by the introduction of the government’s official ‘hostile environment’ policy. This term has been used to describe the government’s attitude to migration and asylum seekers, e.g. home secretary Theresa May’s notorious ‘Go Home’ vans and its knock-on effect upon non-white British residents, highlighted by the Windrush Scandal. Gordon Brown had flagged up this approach to perceived outsiders, when he borrowed the old fascist “British jobs for British workers” slogan in 2007. It was still acknowledged that the economy needed migrant workers, but the ‘hostile environment’ is meant to impose constant pressure, so such workers become fearful of complaining about, or fighting against, precarious work, low-pay and poor conditions, and poor access to housing and social security.

However, in effect, the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy has also been extended to all British subjects who need access to social security. Under work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith, the 2012 Welfare Reform Act and the 2016 follow up Welfare Reform and Work Act introduced Universal Credit (originally inspired by New Labour advisor, Lord Freud). Like the nineteenth century workhouses, these acts are designed to enforce draconian labour discipline, but today upon on those in precarious jobs. The majority claiming Universal Credit are in work. Universal Credit is there to exert maximum pressure upon these workers who face frequent changes in jobs. And the effects on those with disabilities, unable to do work, have been treated as acceptable ‘collateral damage’. Just as migration detention centres have led to severe ill-health, mental breakdown and suicides, so has the pressure of applying for Universal Credit.

In response to continuing economic crisis, a strategy was beginning to emerge amongst employers to lower labour costs. The Conservative/Lib-Dem government introduced the two draconian Immigration Acts of 2014 and 2016. These were designed to put maximum pressure on migrant workers. They would either be forced to leave the country, or ‘go underground’, where they could be subjected to the super-exploitation of gangmasters, first exposed in the 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy. The new laws turned employers, landlords, teachers, health and benefit workers into agents of state migration control. However, the 2.9 million EU migrants living in the UK are largely exempt from these acts.  This undermines employers’ attempts to lower wage costs, especially as some migrants come from countries with more militant trade union traditions. They are prepared to join trade unions and to defend their pay and conditions.

The Conservative/Lib-Dem government responded to this pressure to limit migrant worker rights, by extending its ‘hostile environment’ policy to a small group of non-UK EU residents – those accused of committing crimes. There has been a sixfold increase in the number of Europeans held in immigration detention/removal centres.[15]An emphasis was placed on the detainees’ criminal actions. This was done to add a further chain in the link to connect migrants with benefits scroungers and now criminals. Although successful in the wider scapegoating of East Europeans, the UK state still faced a limit to how far it could go in attacks on EU migrants using criminal procedures alone. Cameron’s later pre EU-referendum attempt to limit the welfare rights of new EU migrants for a four to seven year period was also part of this demonising process. But again it was likely to be limited in its overall effect on EU residents living in the UK. However, by adopting this ‘hostile environment’ approach the government prepared the grounds for the right national populists and neo-fascists to make the next jump, which was to leave the EU.

Growing numbers of workers with official British subject status, have experienced a sharp decline in their living standards, and have become subject to lower pay and often precarious work. Now atomised and alienated, they are more likely to have a dog-eat-dog view of a world, based on individual competition, where ‘others’ are seen as a threat. The government is also keen to draw attention away from the bankers’, other employers’ and its own role in creating and perpetuating the economic crisis. So the scapegoating of migrants and benefits claimants has become an important feature of government policy. The demonising of migrants and asylum seekers as potential ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘criminals’ highlights the link they want to make.

Until the 2007/8 Financial Crisis, the Europhobic Right remained marginal. Indeed, for a long time, the Tory Right could be seen as just as trapped and neutered within the Conservative Party as the Left was inside the Labour Party. In frustration, an independent chauvinist, racist and Europhobic Right organised outside the Conservatives.  The Financial Crisis, though, ended the neo-liberals’ almost total political hegemony, and placed a new spotlight on the central institutions of the UK and EU (and USA). These had long buttressed the neo-liberal political order. This opened a new political space for the Europhobic Right – the BNP and a reconstituted UKIP under Nigel Farage.

By 2008, in the UK, the British National Party (BNP) had largely replaced the older National Front (NF). The BNP ditched the NF’s earlier fascist German Nazi nostalgia, and became a British right populist party, but still with a neo-fascist fringe. In the 2010 general election, the BNP reached its highest average vote per candidate (1663 over 339 constituencies) and its largest total Westminster vote (563,743). By 2010 it also had 55 councillors. But the BNP’s biggest electoral advance was in the 2009 European election, where it gained 943,598 votes and 2 seats.[16] The BNP took over the longstanding anti-EEC/EU and racist stance of the Right, linking it to hostility to East European immigration and asylum seekers, and to Islamophobia.

UKIP had been formed in 1993, but it wasn’t until after the 2007/8 crisis, under the new leadership of Farage, that it made significant progress. UKIP took over the anti-East European immigration and asylum seeker politics of BNP, but wanted to ditch the BNP’s neo-fascist baggage, associated with anti-semitism and street racism. There had already been some political reorientation on the Right, which placed less emphasis on biological race-based politics, and concentrated more on ethnic or cultural-based racism. This had the added advantage for UKIP that it could also oppose white Eastern European EU migrants. UKIP downplayed the full-spectrum Islamophobia of the Far Right, and used a more dogwhistle Islamophobic message, directed at ‘terrorists’ and asylum seekers. Over these issues, UKIP was more firmly placed in the mainstream of politics established by the Conservatives and New Labour. UKIP also supported apartheid Israel. This also located UKIP’s politics in the UK political mainstream, as well as that of the USA. Nigel Farage, the ex-fee-paying schoolboy and City of London commodities broker, learning how to smoke cigarettes and drink beer in public, presented himself in populist colours, as a ‘man of the people’.

UKIP had to wait for the demise of a BNP, which still had too many neo-fascist trappings to win enough enough backing for leaving the EU. UKIP, by confining itself to right national populist politics, hoovered up most of the BNP’s wider support. UKIP also lived up to the first two initials of its name and provided a cross-UK reactionary unionist party – something not seen since the C&UP in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[17] By 2014, UKIP had over 300 local councillors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the 2014 EU election UKIP received 4,376,635 votes and became the largest UK party at Brussels, with 24 seats from England, Wales and Scotland. It also held 1 seat at Stormont between 2012-16, and in 2016 it gained 7 seats in the Welsh Assembly and 2 in the London Assembly. However, UKIP made most impact in the 2015 general election, where despite the first-past-the-post system, it received 3,991,099 votes.[18]

Furthermore, although UKIP represented a challenge to the Conservatives in some leafier suburbs and rural areas, it had become a threat to Labour in the deindustrialised regions of the North and English Midlands and in South Wales. Secure, skilled, better-paid and unionised jobs had disappeared to be replaced by insecure, less-skilled, poorer paid and often non-unionised jobs. Following Thatcher’s council house sales, ownership had also become fragmented and the upkeep of remaining council housing downgraded. Tenant organisations also fell apart, in the face of management led housing association takeovers and the higher turnover of lets. Education, local health, social care, community centres and other social provision had been savaged by privatisation and cuts. The biggest impact was in the eastern and southern English coastal areas, which attracted large numbers of agricultural and poorly paid service workers. The pressure on services led to longer waits for medical attention and to crowded and under-resourced schools. However, at a time when more social expenditure was required to meet these new needs, the UK government was stepping up its austerity offence upon local authorities. It refused to lower interest on loans, at a time when the banks responsible for the triggering of the Financial Crisis, were offered low interest loans, and their managers given obscene bonuses. In the absence of the earlier working class self-organisation, neo-fascists and right national populists made appeals to atomised and alienated individuals looking for saviours and scapegoats.

Following UKIP’s 2015 general election result, it successfully pressured the new majority Conservative government to hold a Euro-membership referendum in 2016. Neither David Cameron nor Ed Miliband, who had both bowed to the Right’s anti-migrant politics, was prepared to argue for the inclusion of EU residents or 16-18 year olds, those mostly affected, in the EU referendum franchise. Yet Cameron had accepted these two groups in IndyRef1. This decision underlined a fundamental difference between IndyRef1’s ‘Project Hope’, which was based on a civic national view of Scottish society, and the Brexiteers’ ‘Project Hate’, which was based on an ethnic nationalist view of British society. In its defence of the UK’s constitutional status quo, the Cameron-led, Labour backed ‘Project Fear’ had donned a liberal mask to take on ‘Project Hope’ and defend its own conservative unionism. But in its attempt to buttress UK state power within the EU, the Conservative leaders of ‘Project Fear’ pulled on a reactionary mask to take on ‘Project Hate’s Europhobia, and to defend its own conservative Euroscepticism.

By this time a broader new right national populist politics, which challenged neo-liberalism was making its impact felt. Up to this point right national populist governments had been confined to less central states in the still neo-liberal dominated world order, e.g. Putin’s Russian Federation (2000 onwards), Orban’s Hungary (2010), Modi’s (India 2014), Kaczynski’s Poland (2015), Duterte’s Philippines (2016). As in the early days of what eventually became full-blown neo-liberalism, there was no overall economic coherence to this right national populism, although hostility to migrants and ethnic minorities was usually shared.  But up until 2016, specific national characteristics (including other selected targets for ‘othering’ dependent on each state’s right nationalist traditions) seemed more important than shared features.

However, the impact of the 2007/8 Financial Crash led to a split in both the US and UK ruling classes. One section began to turn to the right national populists, who had remained at the margins of official economic discourse in these states. To begin with the Republican Party contained the Tea Party challenge, which had been largely financed by the Koch brothers, at the time jointly the richest men in the world. In the UK, the figureheads of right national populism were initially divided between ruling class insider, ‘Boris’, and the political outsider, Farage.  But right national populism began to win wider support from both the owners and senior managers of more nationally based companies, which had not benefitted so much from transnational neo-liberalism, but also and more significantly from those companies whose operations were more global than the EU, e.g. hedge fund owners. They felt restricted by the regulations and multi-lateral agreements, which had accompanied the period of neo-liberal ascendancy.

The growth of right national populism outside of the Conservative Party, gave the Tory Right a new lease of life inside. It was no longer political outsiders, but such key Establishment figures as Nigel Lawson and Boris Johnson, who were to lead the official anti-EU campaign. They represented the interests of the reactionary wing of the British ruling class, given a new lease of life by the impact of the continuing economic crisis. They wanted to move politics further to the right, using the opportunity of ‘never letting a good crisis go to waste’.  Differences emerged amongst Brexit politicians as to how far to the right politics could be shifted. The official ‘Vote Leave’ campaign was designed first to win over greater numbers of the Eurosceptic, but up to now, reluctant Remain ruling class supporters. It offered the British ruling class the prospect of a more profitable future, with further deregulation and privatisation, a vision of Empire2, where the old Empire filled the City’s coffers once more, and the ‘lower orders’ respected ‘their betters’ and knew their place. In a culture dominated by celebrity politics, the would-be leaders of the new order would have to work a little harder to win support. But ‘Boris’ showed how this could be done, with his carefully crafted buffoonery masking his ruthless sense of ruling class entitlement.

‘Vote Leave’ had the backing of Peter Cruddas, “the richest man in the City of London”,[19] hedge fund managers Crispin Odey and Stuart Wheeler, and other business leaders. For a time, Nigel Lawson chaired the campaign. It had a long list of Tory Right members, but also two of the most consistently right wing Labour MPs, Gisella Stuart, ‘Vote Leave’ co-convenor and Frank Field. It also had the support of Douglas Carswell UKIP’s sole MP, Lord Owen, former SDP leader, Nigel Dodds, depute leader of the DUP, and David (now Lord) Trimble, the former UUP leader.

Lawson argued that the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign would “give us a chance to finish the Thatcherite {counter} revolution”.[20]This meant removing EU regulations covering workers’ rights, consumer and environmental protection and the threat of greater financial regulation. ‘Vote Leave’ also wanted to place the 2.9 million EU residents living in the UK under the same draconian laws – the 2104 and 2016 Immigration Acts – as non-EU residents. ‘Vote Leave’ co-convenor, Michael Gove explained the reasoning behind this. He complained that EU agricultural workers from Romania and Bulgaria weren’t prepared to accept the low wages that could be paid to non-EU Ukrainian agricultural workers.[21] So, instead of the existing largely free movement of workers within the EU, key ‘Vote Leave’ backers want to introduce a much more restrictive gastarbeiter system of state managed labour control.

‘Vote Leave’ could easily out-racist Cameron’s ‘Britain Stronger in the EU’ campaign. His campaign emphasised the withdrawal of work and child benefits access to new EU migrants for four to seven years. But the reactionary impact of Cameron’s deal was much more limited, compared to the drastically worsened conditions of employment for the existing 2.9 million existing (and any future EU) migrants if the UK left the EU. This meant that ‘Vote Leave’ was better able to ramp up racism by targeting East Europeans. They also pointed to the much larger number of asylum seekers that other EU states had received, emphasising their Muslim or African origin. The Calais Jungle became a particular target of their hatred. But some ‘Vote Leave’ leaders still felt constrained by their desire to meet the needs of employers wanting to access other lower paid, migrant workers after Brexit. So racist appeals, although more vocal than from ‘Britain Stronger in the EU’, had to be used carefully.

The slogan designed to do the trick was ‘Take Back Control’. Whilst all those in the know fully appreciated that this meant resorting to and reinforcing all the most anti-democratic features of the UK state, leading Brexiters wanted the wider public to understand that to ‘take back control’ meant controlling migration. This is where the official ‘Vote Leave’ campaign benefitted from having the unofficial but also well financed ‘Leave.EU’/’Grassroots Out’[22] outrider – led by right national populist UKIP leader, Farage. Although political rivalry and personal jealousies were to break out both within and between the ‘Vote Leave’ and ‘Leave and ‘Leave.EU’/’Grassroots Out’ campaigns, they enjoyed a symbiotic relationship during the EU referendum campaign. ‘Leave.EU’/’Grassroots Out’ could use a more strident racism designed to reach out to the atomised and alienated. Brexiteers wanted to divert attention from the role of the government in perpetuating austerity and undermining social provision so they blamed migrants.

Paul Hargreaves, a big financier, bankrolled ‘Leave.EU’, stating that, “Brexit will lead to insecurity, which will turn out to be very effective.”[23]But perhaps more significant was the role of Arron Banks, the owner of several offshore, insurance companies, which donated £4.3M to the campaign.[24] In this way, ‘dark money’ from non-UK sources could be channelled to Brexit campaigns. At this time, Donald Trump and his then Breibart associates were still waiting in the wings of US politics. They were in the process of battering their way into the Republican Party, with the aim of winning the US presidency for their right national populism.

The ‘Leave.EU’/’Grassroots Out’ campaign also included Liam Fox from the Tory Right, Sammy Wilson the DUP ultra-Loyalist, Kate Hoey the Labour maverick, (chair of Countryside Alliance, supporter of the UUP, and nominee of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader) and George Galloway, hybrid Left/Right populist with his dog whistle attacks on Romanians. There were two Left Brexit campaigns. The CPB/Labour Left campaign with its Socialist Party/No2EU add-on looked nostalgically back to the ‘Spirit of 45’ and the highpoint of British-wide trade union organisation in the earlier 1970s. The CPB/Labour Left ‘British roaders’ were supplemented by the SWP and its breakaways in their Lexit campaign. They made no attempt to influence those attracted to the two main Brexit campaigns, largely confining themselves to arguing against those on the Left who supported a Remain vote.  NO2EU and Lexit supporters had supported Scottish independence, but this was often more from an anti-Tory than an anti-UK stance, so it was relatively easy for them to flip back to being ‘British roaders’.

However, despite the Lexit addition, the left populist Brexiters were completely unable to counter the overwhelmingly right wing trajectory of main Brexit campaigns. With the murder of Jo Cox MP by a British fascist just before the referendum; followed after the referendum, by the murder of Arkadiusz Jozwik on the streets of Harlow for speaking Polish, and the suicide of Dagmara Przybysz in her Devon school after racial harassment, casual then organised racism began to rise. The police noted a post-Brexit vote spike in racist attacks and then, despite a subsequent fall, their continuation at a higher level than before the EU referendum.[25] Politics have moved sharply to the right.

At the outset of the Euro-referendum campaign, the reactionary Europhobic Brexiteers did not enjoy the support of the majority of the British ruling class. They still adhered to a conservative Eurosceptic Remain position. They supported Cameron in getting further exemptions from EU regulations covering workers, including migrants. However, the Brexiteers lacked nothing in finance and media backing. “71 percent of funding for campaigns on both sides of the argument came from the UK’s richest people.”[26] The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The S un, The Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times supported Brexit, so “over 80% of consumers who buy a daily newspaper read a title favouring British withdrawal from the EU.”[27] This was very different from IndyRef1, so too was BBC coverage of the two referenda, with Farage getting disproportionate coverage in both, and Johnson in the latter. With the exclusion of the EU residents from the debate, following the restricted franchise, the media gave them no public voice.

Differences between Tory-led ‘Vote Leave’ and UKIP-led ‘Grassroots Out’ re-emerged after the Right’s Brexit victory. The main purpose behind ‘Vote Leave’ had been to shift the axis of the Conservatives to the right. The British ruling class was very reluctant to split its centuries long party of first choice, the Conservatives. This meant using the referendum result to take on board those previously reluctant Remainers, particularly those who had already shown more right wing, especially anti-migrant, attitudes. Theresa May, with her Home Office, anti-migrant ‘Go Home’ vans fitted the bill. May now presented herself as Thatcher Mark 2. She had seen how Thatcher had either completely marginalised or ‘dried out’ the Conservative ‘Wets’. Therefore, to extend their base of control in the Conservative Party, and move it sharply to the right, leading figures from ‘Vote Leave’ accepted May as leader (even if extremely reluctantly in the case of the constant self-promoter ‘Boris’).

Even after May’s initial serback in the 2017 election, she kept to a rightwards course. New Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn’s own hardening Brexit stance also encouraged her.  Indeed, May took confidence from the fact the Labour Party was even more divided than the Conservative Party. There would be no consistent opposition coming from Labour. May formed a governmental alliance with the most reactionary party in mainstream UK politics – the DUP. They were differences with the hardest Brexiteers in Jacob Rees Mogg’s European Research Group over how far to the right politics could be shifted. The Conservative Party had been able to hoover up most UKIP votes in the 2017 election, enabling them to take seven long-held Labour seats in the old industrial English North and Midlands. UKIP members started to join or rejoin the Conservative Party reassured that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. This left what remained of UKIP under greater influence from the far right, as former BNP members joined, and the recent EDL leader, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (‘Tommy Robertson’) was courted.

But this drift to the further right in the UK has also been very much influenced by global developments. Brexit clearly became central to Trump’s political and economic ambitions. He (and Steve Bannon) felt closer to the more overtly racist campaigning of ‘Leave.EU’/’Grassroots Out’. Although Trump represented some key corporation owners (e.g. the Koch brothers, Peter Coors, Robert Murray) and hedge fund owners (e.g. John Paulson, Peter Thiel), in political terms he was a Washington outsider. This also placed Farage and Banks closer to Trump than to the leaders of the official ‘Vote Leave’ campaign, which had been developed by ruling class political insiders. So Trump threw his weight behind the Brexit wing led by Farage.

When the EU referendum result was announced in June 2016, Trump saw this as a major boost for his US presidential election campaign, which he termed “Brexit, plus, plus, plus.”[28] Marine Le Pen, the French Front National leader already called herself Madame Frexit.[29] The Brexit vote, quickly followed by Trump’s election in November, brought right national populism to a position of global dominance. Right populist governments in the EU, previously confined to Eastern Europe, now took office in Western Europe. In 2017, in Austria a right conservative and right populist coalition took office, followed by a right populist coalition in Italy in 2018. In France, Austria and Italy, the right populists had all absorbed neo-fascist organisations. The right national populism has had a knock-on effect upon Theresa May. Trump is able to use the US’s economic and diplomatic power to exert pressure on the UK government from the further right. He has made his distaste for May and his continued preference for Farage known.

In some ways, the UK Brexit/US Trump link in 2016 and the UK Thatcher/US Reagan link in 1979/80 have performed a similar role in pushing a new political order to global dominance – neo-liberalism in the first case, right national populism in the second. Furthermore, as with the new political situation created by the election of Reagan in 1980, the switch in 2016 to right national populist domination under Trump and his reactionary corporate and military backers means that the US state is in a position to give the global order an overall coherence. The earlier more disparate right national populist governments could not achieve this in a world still dominated by neo-liberalism before 2016.

Just as the transition from social democratic to neo-liberal domination represented a reconfiguration of the existing world order not its overthrow, this is also true of the transition from neo-liberalism to right national populism. In both cases, key features of the new order were already present in the earlier order. And those liberals who condemn the unsavoury methods of the national populists are just witnessing ‘blowback’ from their own state directed anti-migrant laws and dogwhistle racism, and from their own attempts to reduce news presentation in the dominant media to forms of entertainment.

Trump’s ‘America First’ politics opposes the multilateral institutions and deals – the World Bank, IMF, the post-Maastricht EU, NAAFTA and TTIP – that had either been rejigged or introduced, when neo-liberalism held global hegemony. To Trump and his US big business backers, these multilateral arrangements, despite their inbuilt bias to US power, had still offered too many concessions, and were too restrictive for big business. ‘America First’ backers believe there should be direct one-to-one state trade deals, which reflect the real balance of US economic and military power.

Trump is even more willing than his neo-liberal predecessors to provide diplomatic, CIA and military hardware backing to opponents of left national populism and social nationalism who have emerged, particularly in Latin America. Trump’s election has been followed by increased pressure on Maduro’s Venezuela, a welcoming of the far right Bolsonaro in Brazil, and the reimposition of some of the sanctions, which had been lifted in Cuba. Trump still displays some reticence about direct US military interventions. He shows a greater desire to have other states, particularly Netanhayu’s Israel and Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia, act as US proxies. And if Trump is less keen to have American ‘boots-on-the-ground’ to impose US will, it is only because his corporate backers in the industrial-military complex are constantly working on new technologies, to attain the same ends, and to bring in massive new profits with US state backing.

Thus, the new world order, which the US right national populists want to impose, would be even more hierarchical in terms of ownership and unequal in terms of income distribution than the neoliberal order. One-to-one state treaty organisations will ensure to that. Already transnational corporations had used the Investment State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) courts recognised in several earlier neo-liberal agreements (e.g. NAFTA, CETA, and the proposed TTIP) to override any state, which showed any concerns for their citizens’ welfare. Perhaps the worst case was the $2.4B penalty imposed on the left populist Ecuador government for terminating Occidental Oil’s Amazon oil contract.[30] This followed the massive environmental destruction, pollution and resultant growing ill-health amongst the local residents, mainly Amerindians. But the one thing that is not likely to disappear in any future one-to-one state deals, replacing the earlier neo-liberal multilateral deals, is the priority given to corporate power.  The underlying principle behind ISDS courts is that private corporate profits are their only concern.  There are no grounds for a defence based on the recognition of human rights and welfare. The removal of citizen rights from the political arena to that of corporate power is an even stronger motivation for Trump’s big business backers.

However, ‘America First’ proponents’ first preference to get their ideal world order lies in right national populists, like Bolsonaro, so their corporate plans don’t get delayed in the courts.  For this, Trump’s approved leaders will be well rewarded. Trump wants to extend his support to people willing to open up their states to untramelled US corporate power. Bolsonaro will hand over huge tracts of the Amazon to further US corporate exploitation, leading to further environmental degradation and repression of the indigenous peoples and migrant workers. This will clearly lead to growing domestic resistance, in a country with a long record of land struggles. But Trump will provide whatever it takes to maintain such loyal US allies as Bolsonaro in power. Those earlier rather tortuous and limited attempts by US governments, started in 1992 by Bill Clinton after the collapse of the USSR, to allow earlier oppositional forces to take office, e.g. the Workers Party in Brazil and the ANC in South Africa, will be abandoned. Ironically, after bowing to continuing pressure to conform to the US dominated neo-liberal order, these one-time oppositional parties became corrupted, making their leaders easier targets for the right national populists.

But Trump is also very keen for the US to conduct his own one-to-one state trade negotiations with the UK after any Brexit. Private health companies are looking to make major inroads into what is left of the NHS. Agricultural and other companies are looking to the curtailment of environmental and consumer protection standards (most notoriously but not exclusively to allow the import of chlorinated chickens). A UK, economically much weaker than the EU, and with successive governments’ longstanding Atlanticist orientation, is more likely to be subjected to a ‘TTIP plus, plus, plus’ deal. And if the Brexiteers thinks the UK lacks sufficient clout on the EU top table, its political status, relative to the US, is behind that of Alaska and Puerto Rico.

But the British ruling class will be allowed to maintain its ‘special relationship’ with the US. Symbolically, this relationship is meant to place the UK second in the new US dominated national populist global pecking order. he British ruling class knows that this ‘Anglo-America’ that is no more real than ‘Empire2’. But although the British Empire may have slipped down the global imperial league, as far as the British ruling class is concerned, there should be no cutbacks in their inherited privileges. This means keeping up appearances and maintaining all the trappings which protect all these – a hereditary head-of-state, with a royal court, an unelected House of Lords, bemedalled military officers, bewigged judges, and aloof senior civil servants, all surrounded by pomp and ceremony. These are public face of a costly, top-heavy political, judicial and administrative system, whose officials all declare their oath of loyalty to the Crown, the political centrepiece of the UK’s socio-economic order.

Whatever arrangements a UK Conservative government comes to with the EU, or with other states, it will stay close to the USA. And May and the other Brexiteers have already indicated that they are willing to pay more towards NATO. This also means signing up to any new US backed imperial ventures, either directly by providing military forces, or indirectly by providing transit bases for US military operations.  Trident can only be used in US approved wars, so it amounts to a very costly UK financed auxiliary wing of US military capacity. But Trident is helpful to a British ruling class determined to maintain an image as a major imperial player.

Thus, despite the demise of UKIP in the 2017 Westminster and local elections, the external pressure of Trump and the global ascendancy of right national populism has had more influence on May than the ‘Wet’ and ‘Moist’ Brexiters in her cabinet. The DUP has been pushing May to hold to a position that can only lead to a hardened Irish border. Jacob Rees-Mogg has organised the Europhobic European Research Group as a party-within-a-party.[31] And Conservative Party members openly consort with the far right. As well as Farage, Steve Bannon has organised meetings with Johnson, Gove and Rees Mogg.

But, despite all the anti-May rhetoric of the further right Tories, they have still depended on her to move politics in their direction. They recognise May’s ability to resort to the formidable range of anti-democratic Crown Powers at her disposal under the UK constitution. And ‘taking back control’ was always about using these powers. After initially attempting to take much greater personal control of Brexit through resort to the ‘Henry VIII clauses’ and getting a set back, she has found her dictatorial feet. She has used the royal prerogative to override parliament and decide which votes are ‘meaningful’. May’s ability to survive major defeats over her ‘deals’, which would have seen off any leader in a more normal parliamentary democracy, shows that her robotic personal characteristics are perfectly suited to fronting the UK’s anti-democratic political order. Despite all their huffing and puffing, further right Tories have needed May for their longer-term plans. But to them May is clearly a transitional figure, who makes a most unlikely charismatic populist. They want a more charismatic leader to front the UK’s Crown Powers. They have wet dreams over how far right they could then move politics.

And the Right’s continued political offensive has further consequences for state-promoted ‘Britishness’. They are challenging the ‘Britishness’, which was opened up to non-white UK residents from the 1970s. Both ‘multiculturalism from above’ and ‘multiculturalism from below’ have been targeted. Key figures in both the Conservative and Labour parties had already attacked the former, in favour of promoting a British culture, based on fabricated ethnic/cultural criteria. British Muslims (the one time British Asians) are the first to be peeled away from a state recognised hyphenated non-white Britishness. Brown and Goves’ attempts to create a British cultural identity, and demonise those, particularly Muslims, who do not conform, have provided a half way house to the far right’s way of thinking. At present, the far right in the UK, including Yaxley-Lennon, see Israel’s new ethnic supremacist ‘Jewish nation-state’ constitution[32 ]as their ideal model. They want a British ethnic supremacist ‘nation’-state.

Right national populism is currently in the ascendancy. The reactionary section of the British ruling class, which is determining the direction of UK politics, would prefer to have all its anti-migrant and anti-Left policies conducted by a reinforced state with considerably extended repressive powers. This way they could contain the Far Right, just as Thatcher was able to take the steam out the National Front after 1979. She brought in the new racist 1981 British Nationality Act, promoted the police offensive against black communities (which led to the riots in 1981), and the further stepping up of repression in Ireland (which led to the Hunger Strikes).

The Far Right is trying to find the best way to utilise this right national populism for its own ends. It is pursuing a pan-European strategy.  Beyond the UK, Steve Bannon hopes to build the Movement, involving far right parties, although his initial attempt to use the 2019 Euro-election may fall foul of state election laws.[33] Bannon sees a ‘Brexit Britain’ outside the EU as an example to the Movement supporters inside the EU.The UK state’s own Islamophobic, ‘anti-terrorist’ offensive has already prepared the grounds for a further rightward drift. In November 2016, the Far Right could mobilise 60,000 people in Warsaw for its vision of a ‘White Christian Europe’.[34] Despite divisions and tensions, the Far Right’s ‘internationalism’ is still ahead of the lukewarm diplomatic ‘internationalism’ of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, which is also more divided over the future of the EU. An Anti-Capitalist Left, which could once mobilise hundreds of thousands across Europe against the neo-liberal G8 Summits and millions against the Iraq War, hardly lifted a finger when the Greek people were under attack from the Troika.

In the UK, a section of the Left tends to see racism as a nasty foreign import – not really British, but the responsibility of neo-fascist street gangs. This sort of thinking underpinned the naming of the Anti-Nazi League (ANL), launched in 1977. The ANL separated combatting ‘Nazis’ from challenging the racism of the state (and from the main form of fascism found in the UK – the loyalist paramilitaries). Today, another SWP front organisation, Stand Up to Racism (SUR), concentrates its attention on the Far Right. It does nothing to challenge the state racism, from which the Far Right draws much of its succour. SUR remains largely blind to the role of state agencies – immigration, security and police – in the everyday racism that both migrants and long established non-white British residents face. The Right also want ‘ordinary people’s involvement in such policing to be put in place. This then legitimises the Far Right’s supplementary vigilante activity. In Northern Ireland, where reactionary unionism is already dominant, loyalist gangs sometimes inform the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) that certain people are not welcome in particular ‘unionist communities’. The RIC then visits these people and suggests they move!

A feature of Brexiter thinking, which unites its Right and Left, is their invocation of the ‘democratic’ legitimacy of the 2016 Brexit vote. Yet the franchise excluded EU migrants, many of whom have lived in the UK for decades. In 2014, it was the rising new Scottish-European internationalism, which ensured that EU residents were included in IndyRef1, and led to the ‘democratic revolution’.[35]The two major acts of the subsequent anti-democratic counter-revolution were the ‘English votes for English Laws’ and the denial of the vote for EU residents and 16-18 year olds in the 2016 Euro-referendum 2014. Anybody trying to invoke the term ‘democrat’ to justify Brexit, with a franchise that excludes these people, is trying to disguise latest face if right populist, British chauvinism and racism.

In the transition from the old social democratic view of society under Labour in the 1960 and 70s, to the full acceptance of neo-liberalism under New Labour (with its social liberal add-on) in the 1990s, a series of political adjustments were made, e.g. ‘Dented Shield’ Labour. Because of the depth of the current multi-facetted crisis, the pressure to join the Right in becoming national populist is taking place much more quickly. It took 18 years for fully fledged neo-liberal Blatcherism to develop. Marxism Today emerged as a journal advocating a particular British accommodation to the ‘New Times’, and helped to pave the way for New Labour.  Today, their one-time opponents, the ‘Tankies’, finally hope their day has come for their own very ‘British road to socialism’ via British national populism.  It has taken hardly 18 months for national populist Maybynism to emerge centred on implementing Brexit and harsher migration controls. The first thing needed to challenge growing national populism is to see how deeply it has already penetrated British society, including the Left, following the Brexit vote.

The Left in the UK (and indeed in Europe) is at a decisive crossroads. They can tailend the right national populists who are in the ascendancy at the moment. Nowhere have the left Leavers organised any public demonstrations to push for their own versions of Brexit.  There is a reason for this. Brexit was always a right project, with the far right and national populists doing the street organising.  Left Leavers would be frightened at who turned up if they called their own anti-Brexit protests. On Friday September 19th, 2014, it was the loyalists and far right who rampaged through Glasgow’s George Square to celebrate their ‘No’ victory following IndyRef1. On Friday, March 29th, 2019, it was the same political forces, supplemented by the right national populist, Nigel Farage, who took part in the ugly protests outside Westminster at the abandonment of their Brexit vision – a strengthened UK state and an anti-migrant ‘Great’ Britain.

This contrasts with those who turned up at the 1,000,000 strong ‘Peoples Vote’ demonstration in London on 23rd March.[36] They were from a similar background to those who attended the Anti-Iraq war protests in London and Glasgow on February 15th 2003, and the ‘Make Poverty History’ demonstration in Edinburgh on 2nd July 2005. Undoubtedly, the organisers of these demonstrations appealed to liberal sentiment and to Westminster to stop the war and to make poverty history. But the Left did organise its own contingents, and this also happened on the Peoples’ Vote demonstration. And the key issue which distinguishes socialists from the neo-liberal Eurosceptics, led by neo-Blairites, Conservative Remainers, Lib-Dems and ‘Independents’, and the Europhobes amongst the Tory Right and Left Brexiteers, is the issue of the defence of the already attained free movement of people within the EU. And many banners declaring such support were displayed on the London demonstration on 23rd March.

At the moment, a false picture is being portrayed, including by some on the Left, about the fight in the Labour Party between a Remain-supporting Right and a Brexit-supporting Left. The reality is that the Left and the Right can be found in both camps. Corbyn claims to act as the spokesperson for all those who signed up to the Labour Party to support his leadership. They were mainly young, and mainly Remainers. Pretending that only the Right supports Remain, and that only the Left support Brexit, he has suppressed the Left Remain voice in the Labour Party. Shared opposition to current EU citizens’ freedom of movement unites the Left Brexiters and and Right Remainers, whatever other differences there still are. Sometimes they hide a shame-faced Europhobia behind the chimera of non-racist immigration controls. Corbyn’s manouevring on the night of January 29th, 2019, to allow the further progress of May’s new Immigration Bill at Westminster, has been the strongest and sickest indication of this opposition to the free movement of people within the EU. Both the Labour Left and Right assisted him in this.

The new Immigration Bill prepares the way for a gastarbeiter-type system of labour control. The UK economy needs a whole range of labour from the top professionals, the highly skilled, semi-skilled to the unskilled. Under a gastarbeiter-type system those at the top can expect to be granted longer-term residency, with the right to bring over their families. Those at the bottom can expect to be given far more limited periods of residency, perhaps only seasonal, with no rights to bring over their families, or even to have them as visitors. One distinction that will be drawn is between those who can assure the immigration officials they can earn a mimimum annual income, currently £35,000 p.a., and those who cannot. That £35,000 p.a. figure does not seem to have been passed on to the officials dealing with applicants for Universal Credit, as the minimum necessary to survive each year in the UK!

The imposition of a gastarbeiter system represents a major threat to the greatest gain resulting from the membership of the EU – the free movement of people within its territory. The EU’s policy of promoting integration from above, and the consequent cross-EU migration, has led to new social and cultural developments from below.  Growing numbers, especially of younger people, now find hybrid British identities too restrictive, and often associated with reaction. New hybrid European identities have developed, based on mixed workforces, with people moving jobs from one member state to another. Students have received education in other member countries’ higher education facilities. There have been increased travel, shared cultural and recreational pursuits. More people are in cross-national relationships. This growing social and cultural ‘internationalisation from below’, with its removal of older conservative national narrow-mindedness and restrictive sexual mores, particularly amongst the young, has become one of the reasons a reactionary Right wants to leave the EU.

Following the 2007/8 Financial Crisis the EU leaders mobilised their key institutions into defending the interests of a narrowly based European banking and other corporate businesses. Others in the UK, who remain largely unaffected, include those, who have come to to invest their often ill-gotten gains or inherited wealth in a safe haven. The City can provide them with its particular expertise on tax evasion. Thus Arabian oil sheiks can move to ‘Londonistan’ with their domestic slaves, and Russian oligarchs to ‘Londongrad’ with their gangster entourages. No questions are asked, or if they are, they can easily pay MPs handsomely, especially Tories, to protect their interests.

With the neo-liberals having abandoned any pretence that they want to maintain EU unity for the benefit of anybody but themselves, Socialists in these islands need to reinvoke that ‘internationalism from below’ tradition. Under today’s conditions of right populist political ascendancy, ‘internationalism from below’ must extend to all those migrant workers across the states making up the EU. It now falls upon Socialists to take up the EU leaders’ abandoned baton of greater European unity for the benefit of the majority. Millions of EU member state workers and/or their family members now work, live or receive their education in other member states. It is this transnational working class, who form the immediate basis of another possible Europe – a democratic, secular, federal and social Europe.

 

[1]          https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/may/14/gordon-brown-iceland-finance

[2]          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Financial_Centres_Index

[3]          http://docs.preqin.com/reports/Preqin-Special-Report-Hedge-Funds-in-Europe-May-2017.pdf –   p.5

[4]          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maastricht_Rebels#Significant_events_in_the_rebellion

[5]          http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48271.htm

[6]          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_in_the_war_in_Afghanistan_(2001–present)

[7]          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War#Iraqi_civilian_casualties

[8]          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_detention_in_the_United_Kingdom

[9]          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_detention_in_the_United_Kingdom#Deaths_in_immigration_custody

[10]        https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/immigration-detention-in-the-uk/

[11]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_in_the_United_Kingdom_test

[12]        https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/an-imperial-history-lesson-for-mr-brown-          528625.html

[13]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CONTEST#Criticism

[14]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayeeda_Warsi,_Baroness_Warsi#Resignation

[15]        https://unlocked.org.uk/2018/11/06/immigration-detention-centres-have-no-place-in-          manchester-or-the-uk/

[16]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party#Electoral_performance

[17]        http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/06/26/making-plans-for-nigel/– 4. The Right, Far Right, different forms of nationalism ans the role of ‘Britishness’ in support of the UK state

[18]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Independence_Party#Election_results

[19]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Cruddas

[20]        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/21/enough-of-nigel-lawson-and-his-band-of-80s-ultras-brexit

[21]        https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/ukrainian-workers-could-replace-eu-nationals-     post-brexit-michael-gove-suggests-1-5580303

[22]        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35622105

[23]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hargreaves#Politics

[24]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arron_Banks#Relationship_with_Eurosceptic_organisations

[25]        https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/07/hate-surged-after-eu-referendum-police-figures-show

[26]        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-leave-eu-campaign-arron-banks-jeremy-   hosking-five-uk-richest-businessmen-peter-hargreaves-a7699046.html

[27]        https://www.referendumanalysis.eu/eu-referendum-analysis-2016/section-3-news/the-press-and-the-referendum-campaign/

[28]        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-elections/donald-trump-latest-us-           election-day-votes-results-rally-brexit-plus-plus-plus-north-carolina-a7404051.html

[29]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frexit

[30]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investor-state_dispute_settlement#Cases_lost_by_government

[31]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Research_Group#Funding

[32]        https://www.vox.com/world/2018/7/31/17623978/israel-jewish-nation-state-law-bill-explained- apartheid-netanyahu-democracy

[33]        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/21/steve-bannons-rightwing-europe-operation-      undermined-by-election-laws

[34]        http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/11/22/white-christian-europe-60000-far-right-   supporters-march-in-warsaw/

[35]      http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/british-unionists-and-scottish-nationalists-          attempt-to-derail-scotlands-democratic-revolution/

[36]        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_People%27s_Vote_March

__________________

 

also see:-

FROM BLATCHERISM TO MAYBYNISM

CORBYN, LABOUR AND THE TORIES’ IMMIGRATION BILL – A dialogue

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