Britain and the European Union

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
19 October 2019

[This statement was drafted before the chaotic vote in the British Parliament.]

The deal now on the table regarding Brexit, agreed between the EU and the British Conservative government, is certainly a reheated May deal but with some important changes from the viewpoint of Irish democracy.
      The working class needs to build its resistance, as the Johnson deal accepts the EU’s treaty-based restrictions on state aid and public procurement. It also attaches a free-trade agreement that is not in the May deal. This new agreement does not rule out a closer relationship with the EU but rather leaves it open to a future government to negotiate that relationship, thereby allowing the Johnson government to align Britain as closely as possible to the EU.
      Certain forces within the working-class movement in Britain—like their counterparts in Ireland—continue to peddle the illusion that workers’ rights and interests are better served under the present EU structures and treaties. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it reflects is their deep pessimism, their lack of belief in the working class and in the capacity of workers to resist.
      Workers have won rights and held those rights only through their own organised struggle. Once again social democracy has fallen in behind the interests of the big monopolies and the strategic interests of imperialism—one more episode in a long history of betrayal of workers.
      This Brexit deal, if accepted, is not the end game; instead the struggle will continue as Britain attempts to flesh out its relationship with the EU. There was never going to be a clean break, as the British ruling class is deeply divided.
      Those who wanted to secure the best deal, to remain as close as possible to the EU, have won out. This was their strategy since the referendum. Johnson may well deliver what May could not while appearing to be in favour of leaving.
      Unionism, a pro-imperialist ideology, has once again found itself on the wrong side of history, having placed its faith in the vain hope that the British ruling class would look after them. The unionist veto in regard to the deal struck between the British government and the EU has been rejected by both. History has once again affirmed that imperialism has no friends, only interests, to advance and protect. Unionism was and is a useful tool to be picked up and discarded when it suits the British.
      Notwithstanding the crowing of Leo Varadkar and the waffling of the Irish establishment media, it has also been demonstrated that the interests of the Irish people were of no concern to either the British or the EU negotiators.
      The DUP are clearly losers in the deal agreed upon, with the proposal of custom regulations between the North of Ireland and Britain. This, and the further development of the all-Ireland economy, could advance the unity of the Irish people. The Irish workers’ movement must now push forward the demand for greater economic and social integration throughout Ireland.
      Agreeing a deal before then would mean that Remain is taken off the table but the future relationship is still open for debate. The terrain of struggle is now opening up. What is missing is a clear anti-imperialist voice.
      Partition has failed the working people of Ireland, and this is becoming clearer to more and more people. We need also to advance a clear political strategy for national unity. Our unity is neither some sort of amalgamation of the two jurisdictions nor an extension of the existing set-up in the south, some hybrid of what workers now live under, north and south. No, what is needed is a new republic, a new constitution, a democracy that heals the wounds of history and places the rights and interests of workers at its very heart.

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