Sabby Sagall extols the virtues of remaining in the EU (Feedback, February SR): workers rights; equal pay provision; the 8-hour day. What he doesn’t seem to see is the way in which bosses in Europe as well as this country find many ways round these regulations: the Working Time Directive waiver, women still being paid less than men in practice, while 24-hour shift working patterns are at an all-time high.
Where he and I might have common ground is over the question of no deal. It is true that this scenario is causing the bosses considerable concern over the impact on their profits, but the concern for socialists is the consequences of no deal for the majority of the population. The rosy picture that is being painted by lead Brexiters of new trade agreements waiting like ripe plums for the plucking is being exposed daily as an illusion. It would be necessary for every single agreement with the EU to be renegotiated, with the UK negotiating from a position of weakness, while any new trade agreements would not be actioned automatically, but are likely to be subject to lengthy discussion.
And as the UK has not been self-sufficient in food production since the beginning of the 20th century, with 30 percent of our food imports coming from the EU, any renegotiations are likely to cause disruption to the food supply chain, making shortages more likely.
Already certain manufacturers, like Honda, are pulling the plug on their operations, while Nissan is vacillating over future production commitments. The likelihood of 750,000 jobs going is being mooted in some quarters, and the uncertainty of no deal is contributing to the air of panic in those same quarters.
So, while I fundamentally agree with the SWP’s position on the EU, I don’t believe that we can be agnostic about a no-deal situation, and that we should be clear that it would be an economic disaster, solely attributable to the Tories, especially those pro-Brexit fanatics that would be quite prepared to countenance the misery that would result from such an outcome provided they get their own way.