In agreeing to negotiate over Brexit with Theresa May, it’s quite possible that Jeremy Corbyn is falling into a trap,and that May is merely filibustering once again so she can get to the point where there’s a stark choice between her shit sandwich of a deal and the neocon wet dream of “no deal”. As many have said, the litmus test as to whether she’s serious or not will be whether or not senior Brexiter ministers resign from the cabinet. They haven’t done so so far, suggesting it is just a time-wasting ploy. Despite Paul Mason’s customary (and typically hapless) optimism, it’s quite possible that Corbyn has no idea what he’s doing and still thinks that those who voted for “Brexit” actually *want* Brexit.
Regardless of whatever happens now, it’s essential for the survival of democracy and the economic interests of anyone who doesn’t own a hedge fund that the Tory party split. That will leave us with a substantial fascist presence in Parliament, but at least it will keep them out of Government for the time being.
In the slightly longer term, Labour needs to confront its internal demons and try to help all its supporters who have fallen under the sway of the far right understand that they’ve been duped. The stage instruction for Brexit read clearly ‘Exit, stage right’ and we can no longer afford to allow ‘Lexit’ delusions about a “WTO Brexit” to fester. Challenging such nonsense will not be easy, as just a few minutes on social media shows that there are very many Labour supporters who’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that in supporting Brexit they are challenging international neoliberalism rather than helping the domestic far right into power. Their levels of conceit and complacency are truly staggering – I’ve even seen one ‘Lexiter’ refer to Rees-Mogg, Johnson et al as “a few irrelevant toffs”, while ex-SWP cultist John Rees called the one million people’s vote marchers “fascists”. A speaker at a pro-“Lexit” rally praised Tommy Robinson of the EDL for his attacks on “left liberals”, ie remainers. Then of course there’s the bloody cyclists. One characteristically amusing-but-good-god-how-depressing “Lexit” talking point is that Farage and co tried but failed to “subvert the vote” before being skillfully outplayed by the ghosts of, I dunno, Tony Benn and Lavrentiy Beria?
Brexit has always been a Rorschach blot, one made of horseshit rather than ink. While people of sound eyesight and sane mind can make put the silhouette of a far right coup, some elements of the Left have been persuaded that it contains the image of a socialist utopia, one that is mercifully free of “left liberals” and the “non-traditional” (i.e. non-white) working class people. Neil Faulkner has done a excellent job of identifying the disturbing (to say the very least) historical antecedents of such delusions.
When challenged on their collusion with a coup by the British equivalent of the AfD or FN, “Lexiters” love to change the subject to the EU’s treatment of Greece (thus letting their own ruling class off the hook for austerity*). They have little to say about the fact that very few Greeks (apart from the Golden Dawn) would have chosen to leave the EU. But if it’s Southern European analogies we’re interested in, it’s reasonable to wonder what the British pro-Brexit left make of the current government of Italy, where a supposedly progressive sect believes itself to be in power and maintains a facade of radical respectability while its neofascist coalition partners smash up democracy and basic human rights from within. Maybe that’s what the future holds for the UK – after all, those “few irrelevant toffs” would be more than happy with such an arrangement.
*To be fair they often blame the Tory shock doctrine onslaught on…yes, you guessed it, the EU. Because as you’ll be well aware, no Englishman would ever harm another Englishman, it’s like a code of honour going back to Arthurian times, anything bad that happens in this country must be the work of those beastly foreigners. Fffs.