|Volume 50 Number 4, February 1, 2020||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Working People Charting their Own
Path in Present Circumstances
Britain left the European Union at 11.00pm on Friday, January 31. This followed the passing by the Westminster Parliament on January 22 of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, receiving the Royal Assent the following day, and the vote of the European Parliament on January 29 in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement brokered between the British government and the EU negotiators.
There now follows a transitional period of 11 months in which EU rules still apply to Britain. There will be negotiations on a mooted free trade agreement between Britain and the EU, which the government says will be completed by the end of 2020, though doubts have been expressed from a number of quarters, most notably by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. She said after her meeting with Boris Johnson in Downing Street in January that this was not long enough to reach a comprehensive deal covering all aspects of the future relationship. It will be contrary to the Agreement for Britain to sign trade deals with other countries until this transition period is over.
Neither "Remain" nor "Leave" was going to be decisive in the future direction of Britain, nor for that matter of the European Union. What must be addressed now by the working class and people is that it is necessary for the people themselves to discuss and act on the future direction of the economy, and intensify the fight against the narrow private interests which have the economy in their grip as they fight to compete in the global market.
The people of England, Scotland and Wales themselves must speak in their own name, recognising that the choice presented is not between allying with the United States or the European Union, neither of which is the guarantor of rights and social justice. Also in this context, the fight of the Irish people to reunify their country and determine their own affairs is bound to intensify. The Conservative government is standing in the way of self-determination for the people of Ireland, as it is doing with Scotland and Wales. Boris Johnson is demanding that the union of the United Kingdom be preserved. But this is contrary to the people taking control of their own lives, and affirming their national rights in the process.
Working people must chart their own path in the present circumstances, which means opposing imperialist globalisation and the violation of the sovereignty of nations and peoples, and striving themselves to become the decision-makers, working for democratic renewal and an anti-war government. Working people find themselves not so much at a crossroads, as at a juncture where they must speak out and organise in their own names. The independent programme which is required is that of the working people themselves.