Allan Armstrong has published an article entitled From Illusions in a Lexit Brexit to a Disillusioned Lexit from Brexit Politics (  The contents of this book are shown below, followed by the last two chapters and conclusion. This  article follows The Impact of the December 12th General Election across the Constituent Parts of the UK. (




Telegraph backs Lexiters’ ‘revolution’ and ‘Peoples Brexit!



a)  The 2015 general election provided a warning

b)  After 2015 – an increasingly floundering Left

c)  Northern Ireland – a different pattern

d)  Reactionary unionism and Europhobic opposition to the EU

e)  The largest independent Socialist parties walk into the Brexit trap

f)  The official Remain and Leave campaigns – two wings of the British ruling class

g)  The Lexiters’ false arguments

h)  The political options open in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum

i)  From 23rd May, 2016 to 8th June, 2017 – A victory for the Left or the Right?

j)  ‘Independent’ Socialists and ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’!

k)  Corbyn and the ‘independent’ Socialists unwittingly help Boris Johnson to victory

l)  Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

m) Independent socialists in Scotland and Northern Ireland/Ireland

n) Conclusion





1. Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

On December 12th, Labour’s vote share fell by 7.8% and its number of MPs decreased from 262 to 202. The Tories’ vote share rose 1.2%, but its number of MPs increased from 317 to 365. The gap in the vote share was 11.4%, 32.2% for Labour and 43.6% for the Tories.[1] Not surprisingly a shattered Jeremy Corbyn offered his resignation, opening up the prospect of a new leadership campaign.

Subsequent disillusionment will lead to many one-time Corbynistas to drop out the Labour Party. Others will turn to Sir Keith Starmer, standing as replacement Labour leader. He has adopted a Centre position, to woo both sides, following Labour’s defeat. Starmer had been a Right Eurosceptic Remainer, who wanted to continue David Cameron’s policy of undermining free movement of labour from within the EU.[2] His post-election strategy depends upon the British ruling class getting sick enough of the Tories to consider allowing a tame Labour ‘opposition’ to take office. Meanwhile existing Labour MPs will line their pockets and advance their careers in and out of Westminster. And any workers or others taking action to defend rights will be subjected to official Labour attacks.

The Right will probably throw its weight behind Starmer, in the leadership election, although Lisa Nandy and Emma Thornberry are there as alternatives. Both the Labour Right and the Left, though, have billed Rebecca Long-Bailey as the ‘Corbyn continuity’ candidate. This is true in the sense that she is the ‘Corbyn constant climb-down continuity’ candidate. When pressured by the Tory-led Board of Deputies, she retreated even faster than Corbyn. She has signed up to their ’10 Pledges’[3], which give support to apartheid Israel, with its oppression and expulsion of Palestinians, Jewish supremacist nationality laws, and its demand for a witch-hunt against those supporting Palestinian rights and self-determination, especially the Jewish Voice of Labour.

But even more amazingly, Long-Bailey said, “she’d be prepared to use nuclear weapons”.[4] It was clear that even Corbyn was unhappy at being pressured by UNITE general secretary, Len McCluskey, to support Trident renewal. It’s hard to believe, despite his many other retreats, that Corbyn would ever have said he was prepared to use nuclear weapons.  So, perhaps, Long-Bailey is more the ‘McCluskey continuity’ candidate! She received UNITE’s backing on 24th January.[5] But McCluskey’s dreams of prosecco and canapés at no. 10 had evaporated. Instead his partner, Karie Murphy, one Corbyn’s inner coterie  and election organiser was put forward for the House of Lords. Presumably she can invite a guest!

Long-Bailey is the latest ‘sham Left’ candidate. When asked whether she supported  the Scottish Parliament’s right to hold to exercise self-determination through a referendum, she said she would not stand in the way of a second Scottish independence referendum; but added that, “I’m fully committed to the union and I don’t think that should be shaken in any way”[6] – truly the voice of the British Left!

There are no Labour leadership candidates[7] who would strengthen the position of Left social democrats, never mind Socialists, within the party, and certainly not within wider society. Those ‘independent’ Socialists who think that their time should be spent trying to prop up a social democratic party which is most likely to decline, like many of its European counterparts,[8] are acting as a barrier to the creation of a genuine socialist republican organisation, on an ‘internationalism from below’ basis across these islands in the face of Johnson’s Right Populist government. It pursues a top-down reactionary unionist ‘internationalism from above’ strategy across the UK and against the Republic of Ireland.


2) Independent socialists in Scotland and Northern Ireland/Ireland

Looking to Scotland and Northern Ireland, some independent Socialist parties have adopted other strategies. The SSP had opposed Brexit, and the illusions of the Lexiters, in the 2016 referendum campaign, because it correctly anticipated that these would strengthen the Right. However, the SSP did not look at the deeper issues raised – the anti-democratic referendum franchise which excluded EU residents and 16-18 year olds; the stepped-up state offensive against migrants shown by the 2016 Immigration Act; the UK-wide strengthening of the state; and the political consequences of the denial of the Scottish people’s opposition to leaving the EU. Nor does the SSP recognise the longer-term purpose of the Right Populists’ Brexit campaign.

Thus, following the 2016 referendum vote, the SSP accepted Brexit as something that was going to happen, and that the earlier this took place the better. The way would then be clear for a return to good old ‘bread and butter’ politics. But formally leaving the EU on January 31st, 2020, is only the beginning of the Brexiteers’ planned offensive. In a context of long-term negotiations with the EU (and a tense new deadline on December 31st), Johnson’s government intends to mount a proxy war (invoking World War 2, the White Cliffs of Dover, Spitfires, etc.), in which EU residents and migrant workers become  ‘hostages’ and asylum seekers people to be repulsed. The national chauvinist and racist rhetoric will be stepped up even further. At the same time, Johnson is introducing a new Immigration Bill, which intends to create a hierarchy of rights of access and continued residency and will further strengthen the Right. So, unless the Brexiteers’ continuing offensive is opposed politically, any campaign confined to ‘bread and butter’ issues will have a limited impact.

A UK, which has little bargaining power against the Germany/France-dominated EU, has a lot more leverage over the Republic of Ireland. This state is economically much more dependent upon the UK. Leo Varadkar, taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, had already bowed down to Johnson’s ‘Backstop’ deal in October.  His government’s decision to include the Royal Irish Constabulary in the Republic of Ireland’s 1920-23 centenary commemorations may have proved ‘a bridge too far’.[9] Perhaps he should have approached Boris Johnson first asking for a quid pro quo – a UK public commemorations of the setting up of the Irish Republic!

In the December 12th general election, Northern Ireland was the only place where independent Socialists stood candidates. People Before Profit (PBP) won 15% of the vote in West Belfast, a 5.6% improvement on their poor 2017 election result, after they had adopted Brexit/Irexit. But their vote fell back marginally in Foyle to 2.8%. But, as in the 2015 and 2017 Westminster general elections, PBP’s independent Socialist stance was way in advance of its recent International Socialist Tendency (IST) sponsor – the British SWP. The SWP provided no independent Socialist challenge and backed Labour elsewhere in the UK.

People Before Profit (PBP)  stood in the Northern Ireland local elections, earlier in the year. It gained 5 councillors – 3 in West Belfast and 2 in Derry City. PBP did not stand in the EU-election, possibly to avoid any focus in its disastrous Brexit/Irexit policy, when it was standing in the local elections that month.[10] PBP, though, had already backpedalled on its open support for Brexit/Irexit. It came out instead against a Tory hard border. But this brought it into line with Sinn Fein, Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP), Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) and some UUP supporters – so, no more accusations from Sinn Fein of PBP siding with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) (aligned with the Ulster Volunteer Force)  and other Loyalists.

What this political ‘diplomacy’ amounted to is an effective retreat from constitutional politics in Northern Ireland. PBP opposes ‘sectarianism’, [11] seeing itself standing against the ‘sectarian’ parties, e.g. the Unionist/Loyalist DUP, UUP, TUV, PUP and UKIP; and the Nationalist/Republican Sinn Fein and SDLP. PBP supports trade union action, which can bring together Nationalist/Republican and Unionists/Loyalist workers. However, such a stance avoids any recognition of the constitutionally embedded bi-‘sectarian’ nature of the UK state’s continued presence in Northern Ireland, or its wider relationship to the UK’s unionist set-up.

Therefore, PBP did not use the December 12th general election as an opportunity to highlight the continued presence of 5000 non-Northern Irish, British troops, or the role of the MI5’s new purpose-built Northern Ireland HQ in Palace Barracks just outside Belfast.  ‘The Brits’ – “they haven’t gone away you know”! And the trade unions in Northern Ireland, both individually and through the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU), are fully committed to upholding the existing constitutional order in Northern Ireland. NIC-ICTU hopes through ‘Fresh Start’ to mitigate the effects of UK-imposed Austerity, by pleading for more money and sharing out the cuts between the constitutionally recognised Nationalist/Republican and Unionist/Loyalist communities – a sure-fire recipe for stoking up ‘sectarianism.’

After the earlier setbacks, following its commitment to Brexit/Irexit, PBP has developed a method of survival. It has largely withdrawn from any attempt to address the major constitutional issues and concentrates on economic and social issues. This has led to a growing tendency to localism. The Socialist Workers Party (Ireland) – SWP(I), which launched PBP,  has moved away from its British SWP IST affiliate, and from being a party to becoming a network. SWP(I) has become the Socialist Workers Network (SWN) which, in effect, means acting as a  think-tank for PBP, which it sees as the movement. Even under the IST (in reality British SWP) auspices, SWP(I) and PBP kept politics in Northern Ireland separate from politics in the rest of the UK. This mirrors the UK state’s arms-length constitutional relationship. But in making a necessary break from the politically sectarian British SWP/IST, a PBP that has internationalist aspirations, would need to develop a socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ approach, to avoid a further slide into localism.[12]

The Socialist Party (Ireland) – SP(I) front organisation in Northern Ireland, the partitionist, Cross Community Labour Alternative (CCLA), gave its backing to an independent Labour candidate, Caroline Wheeler. The British Labour Party had suspended her for trying to organise the party in Northern Ireland. She stood in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and gained 1.5% of the vote.[13] CCLA’s existence has very much been tied up to the rise of Corbyn in the Labour Party. CCLA has pushed itself as the representative of the absent Labour Party in Northern Ireland. Now that the Corbynista project is in decline, the SP(I) could well to retreat to trade unionism, the one arena which is organised on a cross community basis, provided that constitutional politics are kept at arms-length.

And like the British SWP and SWM, the SP(I) has faced a split, which is reflected in the Socialist Party (England & Wales)-controlled Committee for a Workers International. Paul Murphy, SP(I)’s one-time MEP and TD, has formed new party, RISE[14] – Radical. Internationalist, Socialist, Environmentalist, in the Republic of Ireland.[15] As with the British SWP and now the Irish SWM/PBP, such fragmentation could accentuate a localism, which is already a marked characteristic of the SP(I) that is partitionist in practice.

However, for any independent Socialist organisation committed to Irish reunification, Sinn Fein badly exposed its own strategy. This is dependent on the Republic of Ireland government. In August 2019, Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein MLA for Newry and Armagh, said that “Irish interests will be defended, not by Westminster, they will be defended by the Irish government, by the European Union {and} by the Americans on Capitol Hill”[16] – Leo Varadkar, Donald Tusk and Donald Trump! And despite all the talk of the December 12th   general election in Northern Ireland opening the way for a reunited Ireland, the unionist vote (DUP, UUP, Alliance Party and Northern Ireland Conservative Party) Ireland was 59.5%, whilst the constitutional nationalist (Sinn Fein, SDLP, Aontu and Irish Freedom Party- IFP) pro-Irish unification Left (PBP) only came to 40%.[17]

And the share of the vote for party most committed to Irish reunification, Sinn Fein (but without a viable strategy to achieve it) fell back by 6.7%. Two other pro-unification parties, Aontu and IFP are socially reactionary and oppose EU membership, because the EU is too socially liberal! How pleased Ian Paisley would have been! But the growth in the vote for both the liberal unionist Alliance and the moderate constitutional nationalist SDLP is more likely to push Northern Irish politics back into the hands of Stormont and continued behind-the-scenes manipulation by the UK state. And PBP was the party, which made the earliest push for this Stormont orientation,[18] so it is unlikely to challenge this.

The one thing that is clear, though, is that the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly will not lead to any longer-term improvement for the vast majority. Johnson’s new union-jack flagged funds and infrastructure projects, targeted at Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the North and Midlands of England, are going to be somewhat stretched. They will be blown away in the event of another economic crisis. But whilst they are still being dispensed, they will be diverted away from the devolved parliaments and handed over to shady politicians with their personal business links, ensuring very little gets into the hands of local working-class communities.

So far, the strongest all-Ireland campaigns, supported in both communities in Northern Ireland, are the widely supported social movements – over gay rights and abortion – fighting against socially conservative and reactionary values, both south and north of the borders. Independent Socialists have been prominent in such campaigns. But they will need to take on those reactionary Nationalists who look to changing demographics to bring about a Catholic Nationalist majority in Northern Ireland.

The reality is that sections of the Catholic middle class have benefitted from the post-GFA arrangements. The opening up of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to Catholics/Nationalists, in the absence of many other jobs for workers, will change it into something more like the old pre-partition Royal Irish Constabulary . This acted in the interests of both Unionist and Nationalist industrial owners and landlords against workers and peasants. So, these factors are likely to reinforce support for the existing constitutional set-up amongst sections of Catholic/Nationalists. However, amongst many of the young, there is a cross community, cross border, appreciation of the need to challenge both traditional Catholic and evangelical Protestant social conservatism.

Migrants are another group, who have attracted hostility from both traditionalist Catholics and Protestants. And, migrant workers will attract the particular attention of the UK government in the context of the border. Under Johnson’s government this border will be hardened for people, at the slightest hint of ‘illegal’ cross border migration, even if goods, services (and of course profits) are given a more friction-free border crossing. Therefore, migrants have a particularly strong reason to oppose borders. This is why independent Socialists should be championing their case, particularly in the context of growing anti-migrant and Traveller feeling in Ireland

And there is also the role of British (especially Scottish-based) banks in the ongoing housing crisis south and north of the border. This is another arena in independent Socialists could make more impact.

Looking to Stormont or the Dail to bring about Irish reunification represents a political dead-end. These two institutions are locked into a subservient role, the first directly, the second indirectly, within the British imperial set-up. This is supported by the US and will likely soon be backed by the EU as part of any post-Brexit deal. Both the Irish government and the Northern Irish Executive continue to back partition, whatever modifications are found necessary to ameliorate or disguise its negative effects. The British ruing class cannot surrender any UK territory and maintain itself as an imperial (or ‘America First’/ ‘Britain Second’) contender on the world stage.


3) Conclusion

The majority of the British ruling class are now backing Johnson’s Right Populist strategy, which clearly extends across these islands. Genuine independent socialists need to be able to at least match their territorial extent of organisation. This means adopting an immediate social republican, ‘internationalism from below’ strategy and organisation.

After a long internal struggle, the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) has been reformed at a national level in Scotland. One immediate objective could be to approach ‘All Under One Banner’ (AUOB), which organises in Scotland and Wales. AUOB’s mobilising skills would be valuable for organising a march in London. This would demand the recognition of the right of self-determination, not only for Scotland, but for Wales and for a divided Ireland. RIC could form the ‘break-up of the UK’ and Scottish internationalist contingent.

The British SWP, even if for its own opportunist reasons, took a joint England/Scotland contingent on the AUOB march in Glasgow on January 11th.  An open appeal to the Socialists in England to abandon their Left British unionist practice and join a London demonstration would represent a challenge to the only form of Britishness now sustainable in a crisis-ridden world –  Johnson’s reactionary Britishness, for the Crown, Union and Empire. Already English Scots for YES are welcome on AUOB matches in Scotland. And perhaps if enough people from the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English Left could be attracted, RIC could be widened to cover the whole of these islands and given a new name – the Republican Internationalist Coalition.[19]

And fortuitously, Glasgow hosts the major COP26 Climate Change summit in November. AUOB is already committed to organising a major demonstration.  But activists are coming from all over Europe. RIC was formed in the more immediately hopeful days of 2012. Its Scottish internationalism was reflected on its banner, ‘Another Scotland, Another Europe and Another World are Possible’. The continuing environmental degradation across the world; the rise if the Populist and Far Right in the EU member states; and the political degradation of the UK state with its reactionary unionist politics and alliance with Trump’s USA, has increased the sense of urgency. A key national democratic movement in Catalunya, has already taken the republican road in Europe, but confronts the repression of its own reactionary unionist state the still semi-Francoist, Castilian supremacist Spain. ‘Another Scotland, Another Europe and Another World are now Necessary’.


References and Footnotes


[1]    A full analysis of the vote in each of the constituent units of the UK is made in the first part of this article:


[3] conrest-race-candidates-sign-up-to-pledges-antisemitism-1.495274




[7]  In the deputy leadership elections, Richard Burgon has refused to sign the Board of Deputies 10 questions. He is the one candidate who Socialists or Left social democrats within the Labour Party or affiliated trade unions could direct the four suggested questions to.  If the Right take over though, it is unlikely that Burgon’s party membership will go unquestioned.

[8]  Support for the Socialist Party of France in the French Legislative Assembly has declined from 29.4% in 2012 under Francois Hollande (in many ways politically similar to Jeremy Corbyn) to 7.5% in 2017. Support for PASOK in the Greek parliament has declined from 44% under George Papandreou (a slippery populist) in 2009 to 8% in 2019. The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), under Pedro Sanchez, has been able to retain 28% of the Spanish electorate’s vote and is currently in office. But this is because the Spanish ruling class tolerates the PSOE, because it is prepared to go along with the Spanish semi-Francoist state’s Castilian supremacist basis. The PSOE upholds the legality of, and the draconian sentences imposed upon 12 Catalan political prisoners. The only European social democratic party that has bucked this trend is the Socialist Party of Portugal, currently in government with 36.3% electoral support and 108 out of 230 Assembly of the Republic members (ARMs). But significantly, the PSOE government has only been prevented from moving further Right by the existence of independent Socialist parties – the Left Bloc (9.5% electoral support and 19ARMs) and the Communist Party (6.3% electoral support and 17ARMs).


[10] In May 2019, PBP stood candidates both in the Republic of Ireland local elections and the EU elections. It lost 7 of the local councillors it had won in 2014, whilst its EU candidate’s vote share fell from 6.8% to 3.0%.

[11]  Sectarianism implies a religious struggle to establish a single form of religious practice within a state (a particular variety of ethno-cultural state). Nationality refers to a cultural or ethnic difference. Ethnic states organise themselves on the basis of constitutionally entrenched ethno-cultural differences; civic states on the basis of people who choose to live there and adopt that state’s citizenship. The constitutional divide in Northern Ireland is between the Irish and ‘Ulster’-British (who do not see themselves as a separate nation, but merely a component part of a British ‘nation’). Indeed, historically Protestant identities in Ireland have been fluid, with early colonists considering themselves to be English or Scots, then later becoming Anglo-Irish or Scotch-Irish, and some becoming Irish (particularly amongst the United Irishmen). Following the United Irishmen’s defeat most Protestants became Irish-British; then following Partition, ’Ulster’-British or Northern-Irish-British in Northern Ireland, and  just Irish (in the Republic of Ireland).

[12] Certainly, localist Socialist politics can be sustained for a lengthy period. Declan Bree was a founder member of Sligo/Leitrim Independent Socialist Organisation (SLIS) and became a town and county councillor  in 1974. He has held these positions ever since, whether under SLIS, Irish Labour , Independent or Independents4Change colours. Similarly, Jim Bollan has been a West Dunbartonshire councillor and was the  former Labour council leader. But he resigned and has held his seat under Independent, SSP and today West Dunbartonshire Community Party colours. But neither national nor international Socialist organisations have ever been built on a localist basis.

[13]  This was in the same area where CCLA gained its first local councillor in the May 2019 local council elections. Gaining 1.4% first preference votes, the CCLA candidate benefitted from transfer votes, probably on a cross community basis. This is not something that happens on any significant scale in Belfast, the other place CCLA stood a candidate. Here, after receiving an initial 1.5% of the vote there were very few transfers (not even all the PBP vote, whose support in East Belfast is small)

[14] RISE (Ireland) has obviously not looked into the sad fate of RISE (Scotland). It shared the same meaning for the last two initials – ‘S’ and ‘E’. But in Ireland, the politically ambiguous ‘Radical’ takes the form of the more vacuous ‘Respect’, and the better ‘Internationalism’ takes the place of ‘Independence’. RISE (Scotland) is no more, confined to a magazine and online Conter, which has no relationship to any wider political organisation.

[15] Solidarity, the SP(I)’s renamed electoral front (the former AAA), PBP and RISE have come to an electoral deal for the general election in the Republic of Ireland on February 8th but will be competing against former comrades now in Independents4Change.


[17] – section g)

[18]   http://

[19] Well, whilst using the RIC initials of the Radical Independence Campaign would be a fitting tribute to RIC’s republican and Scottish internationalist legacy, perhaps they would need to be extended to AIRIC – the All Islands Republican and Internationalist Coalition, given the connotations of RIC – the Royal Irish Constabulary – in Ireland!



Below are links to articles by Allan Armstrong on Brexit, showing its links first with British reactionary unionism within the UK, then its connection to the global rise of Right Populism, and charing the Left’s response.


Other articles on Brexit on the Emancipation & Liberation and Intfrobel blogs


1. The End of Short-lived Maybynism and the Victory of Full-blown Right Populism?

2. The continuing Shift to the Right in the Transition from Neo-liberalism to Right Populism



1.  Making Plans for Nigel, 26.6.14

2.  Better Together, UKIP, the Orange Order and the UK State, 12.9.14

3. Introduction to The Impact of Reactionary Unionism on UK Politics, 1.9.15




4. A Political Comparison between the 2012-14 Scottish independence referendum and the 2016 EU referendum campaign, 12.4.16

5. From Farage’s Brexit to Trump’s ‘Brexit, plus, plus, plus’ and on to ‘Madame Frexit’? 20.11.16


6. Which Way Now, Brexit or Ex-Brit?, 3.12.16

7. Trump Says Scotland Just Went Through Hell, 8.6.17

(also posted by bella caledonia)

8.  Corbyn, Labour and the Tories Immigration Bill, 31.1.19

9. The Continuing Shift to the Right in the Transition from Blatcherism to Right Populism, 19.2.19


Blatcherism to Maybynism, 19.2.19

10. It’s the constitution stupid, After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s FUK it!


It’s the constitution stupid – After the Boris ‘coup’ let’s fUK it!



C.     Radical Independence Campaign


1. Allan Armstrong (RCN) debates with Donny Gluckstein (SWP), June 2015,

2.  An Open Letter to Lexiters, 3.7.16

3.   A Crisis for Democracy – A Ratification Referendum, 20.7.18

4. A Brexit Ratification Referendum, 1.8.8

(also posted by bella caledonia)

5. The Continuing Brexit Crisis, 20.2.19


(also published in The National)

 6.  The Contradictions Underlying Brexit and Scottish Independence, 22.10.19 (for RIC conference, 26.10.19)

(also posted by bella caledonia)


 D.        The Labour Party and the British Left

A Critique of Jeremy Corbyn and British Left Social Democracy, 8,9.17


 E. Talk given to RISE Edinburgh circle, 28.6.16 

June 24th  – The FUKers’ Black Friday or Red Friday for a European Democratic Revolution, 28.6.16


              F.  Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party

1. European Democratic Revolution, 10.6.16

2. The Reality of the European Democratic Revolution, 18.10.16

 3. Report of Meeting to set up The Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party, 20.10.16



 4. Allan’s response to Brexit Counter-Revolution, 23.1.17


G.    Another Europe Is Possible

 1. Report of Another Europe Is Possible Conference held in Glasgow, 30,8,18

2. 10.12.18 Another Europe Is Possible Conference, 25.1.19

A Crisis for Democracy – A Ratification Referendum, 20.7.18