World in View: Reactionary Brexit

January 21, 2020

From the January-February 2020 issue of News & Letters

by Gerry Emmet

The Dec. 12 general elections in Britain were a victory for world reaction. They were seen as a referendum on the racist 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Between Boris Johnson’s pro-Leave Conservative Party and the lukewarm and ambiguous pro-Remain position of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, Labour was crushed.

With 365 parliamentary seats won by the Conservatives to 203 for Labour, it was Labour’s worst loss since 1935. The devastation included the collapse of Labour’s “red wall” of seats in the working-class North of England, where Conservatives won seats that they hadn’t held in a century.

As the 2016 vote, driven by racism and bigotry, fueled world reaction, so will its ratification now.


In essence, Corbyn’s Labour presented its “Left” manifesto—an abstraction in the absence of a revolutionary movement—as an appeal to the identity of those who have historically voted Labour. On the other hand, the “Brexit” project has been an attempt to break down that historic identity and the historic divides between Left and Right, worker and boss, Conservative and Labour, in the interests of capital.

It is a conscious attempt. Arron Banks, one of those businessmen who funded the Brexit campaign, said: “Our future lies in a different kind of politics, neither left nor right but radical.” This is the voice of capital itself speaking, and it is no accident that Banks is close to Trump and the ideologist of Trumpism, Stephen Bannon.

If there is one thing on this earth that is not abstract, it is the compulsion of capital to rearrange human life in its own image. This compulsion is no respecter of parties or borders. Thus, across the English Channel, French President Emmanuel Macron is waging a brutal campaign to “discipline” unions and pensioners which will ultimately do as much to destroy the EU as has Brexit.

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