Our country is heading into a crisis this autumn, with Boris Johnson’s Tories driving us towards a no-deal cliff edge. No deal would destroy people’s jobs, push up food prices in the shops and open our NHS to takeover by US private corporations.
We will do everything necessary to stop a disastrous no deal for which this government has no mandate. That’s why on Tuesday I am hosting a meeting of opposition parties to discuss how we can stop Johnson’s reckless rush for a no-deal Brexit. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
There were reports over the long weekend that the Tories are going out with their begging bowl to billionaire hedge funders to raise cash for an autumn general election. Let no one be in any doubt what these super-rich donors will be paying for: the chaos and uncertainty caused by a no-deal Brexit is a potential goldmine for speculators betting against the pound.
But the payout for those elements of the super-rich that support no deal won’t just stop there. If we leave without a deal on 31 October, they will use the crisis to push through policies that benefit them and hurt everyone else – as they have since 2010. They will aim to reduce the power of workers; protections for consumers; the tax bills of bankers and the richest and big corporations; as well as the regulations that are supposed to stop them abusing their power.
Boris Johnson has spent his first month pursuing a “Trump first” policy. The Trump-Johnson tie-up is a huge danger to our planet. With so little time to act to prevent a climate catastrophe, as the fires in the Amazon make so painfully clear, an alliance is developing between Trump, Johnson and Brazil’s Bolsonaro – three men who have all denied or belittled the climate emergency. And our prime minister is cosying up to Trump because a no-deal Brexit is really a Trump-deal Brexit. It won’t return sovereignty; it will put us at the mercy of Trump and the big US corporations dying to get their teeth into our NHS, sound the death knell for our steel industry, and strip back our food standards and animal welfare protections.
A Trump deal would work for Johnson’s donors, and against the rest of us.
People voted to leave the EU to gain control over their lives and communities after decades of being shut out of an economy run for the richest. Yet what is being planned would only increase the massive inequality and insecurity in our society, not reduce it. Labour, by contrast, would invest in every region and nation of the UK with a massive £250bn infrastructure programme and a new network of regional development banks to bring jobs and prosperity to every town.
A no-deal bankers’ Brexit will make a bad situation worse for those communities that have been most economically damaged. Johnson and those around him see opportunities in disaster capitalism. They’ve written about it, they’ve spoken about it, and now they think they’ll be able to impose it on all of us. In a very direct way, they represent the interests of the super-rich and are a threat to the interests of the working class.
The battle to stop no-deal Brexit isn’t a struggle between those who want to leave the EU and those who want continued membership. It’s a battle of the many against the few who are hijacking the referendum result to shift even more power and wealth towards those at the top.
That’s why the Labour Party will do everything necessary to stop a no-deal bankers’ Brexit. We want an injection of democracy so the people can decide our country’s future. That could come either by Johnson having the courage of his convictions to test his no-deal plans in a Final Say referendum or through a general election. In that election, Labour would offer a referendum, with a credible Leave option as well as the option to Remain. Labour believes the decision on how to resolve the Brexit crisis must now go back to the people to have legitimacy.
But we won’t rule out other options, such as passing legislation, that could stop this no-deal disaster in its tracks. I’ll discuss all these options with the leaders of other opposition parties on Tuesday. I hope we can come to a good working arrangement and bring on board others across parliament who see the danger of a no-deal crash out.
Boris Johnson’s mandate of fewer than 100,000 Conservative Party members does not give him the right to shift more power and wealth to the richest with a bankers’ Brexit.
Johnson’s power comes from his super-rich donors and backers but the real power in our country lies with the people. That’s why I believe that we can come together in all our diversity, defeat no-deal and then transform our politics, our economy and our society so it is run for the real wealth creators not a tiny elite at the top.
Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party
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