‘Soft Brexit’ – a scenario where the UK joins a free trade area with the EU, such as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). While tariffs would remain at zero, non-tariff barriers (including customs checks, border controls, differences in product market regulations and legal barriers) would increase the costs of trade.
‘Hard Brexit’ – a scenario where the UK and the EU do not immediately form a free trade area and the default situation is to trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. This would result in an increase in tariffs and non-tariff barriers that would be substantially larger than under soft Brexit.
The Brexit question is framed as having supreme importance, more so than the looming climate change crisis Yet again it is a debate about which particular version or configuration of capitalism should be selected. In this case, the specific question of whether a trans-national system of capitalism or a more traditional national organisation of capitalism, should be chosen. Only when we collectively realize that what are presented as contentious issues such as immigration, taxation, etc. are not the real defining issues of our lives, can we plan a much better society. It's only when workers across the world discard all notions that countries and national identities are a central part of the political landscape that real changes can be made to all our lives. Capitalism cannot be reformed. If any capitalist reforms have some slight advantage to the working class it is merely an incidental by-product of a measure designed to strengthen and maintain capitalism.
The Little Englanders are having a field day with the pending Brexit negotiations. The fear of ‘the others’, fear of people we don’t understand permeates the thoughts of the British nationalist Brexit advocate. This fear is man-made, developed by the owning class to undermine working class solidarity. Prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, racism, hatred and xenophobia have spread like insidious contagious diseases. The media demonise and denigrating the poor while attacking the migrant worker. The interests of fellow-workers have become secondary to many people who are actually good working class people, simply blinded by unfounded fear. That is a disturbing reality. People must stop allowing the irrational fear of others to guide their beliefs, opinions, and decisions and, instead, notice the attacks on all workers. Otherwise, the ruling class may win and destroy everything the working class has fought for, were jailed for and died for. It should be clear that you don’t move towards the unity of the world working class movement - a unity that must be forged if we are to win any significant victory over a vicious capitalism - by dividing the actually existing unity of the working class in Britain along national lines. The task for socialists in all countries is indeed independence - not of nations but of the working class. This class independence is the very foundation of the struggle for socialism. Insular nationalism throws up yet another barrier to achieving a socialist society.
The novelist, Victor Hugo said:
“Let's not be English, French or German anymore. Let's be European. No not European, let's be men. Let's be Humanity. All we have to do is get rid of one last piece of egocentricity - patriotism."
Those who seek Brexit wish Britain to remain a fully independent sovereign state, with Westminster not Strasburg as the supreme law-making body. It is the narrow view of the nationalist, in this case of the British nationalist. It is also a view shared by many on the Left. It is not a view shared by the Socialist Party.
We are neither Brexit nationalists nor European Union federalists but world socialists. But we can see the special fallacy of the nationalist argument. In the world as it is today, it is neither possible nor desirable for the people of one part to stand apart from the rest. We are already living in a global village where what happens in one part of the world effects us all. In terms of the production of wealth one world already exists. The goods we consume and the machines and materials used to produce them are all joint products of workers from many parts of the world - something for British nationalists to ponder over as they drink their tea. There has been a growing consciousness that we are all inhabitants of a single world, that we share the globe in common despite our different languages and cultures, is something to be encouraged. Indeed it is essential if we are to tackle problems such as global warming. The European federalists for all their faults, at least realise that the people living on this island off the north-west coast of the Eurasian land-mass need to be closely associated with those on the mainland. Where they go wrong is in imagining that this can be fruitful within the context of capitalism. A federation of European capitalist states will no more provide a framework for the resolution of working-class problems than the so-called independent so-called nation-state. What is required is association with the other peoples of Europe, and beyond that with those of the rest of the world, on the basis of socialism. What is required is not a European market, nor a single currency, nor a European super-state but world socialism where the Earth's resources will be owned in common and democratically controlled through various inter-linked administrative and decision-making bodies at world, regional and local levels. We appreciate that this vision of a united world represents a nightmare scenario for some but that's their problem not ours.
“Anti-globalisation” is not a very good choice of name for progressives since you can’t be against globalisation. Well you can, but it doesn’t make sense. Globalisation – in the sense of the world becoming more integrated, of the emergence of “one world” – is basically a good thing, part of the preparation of the material basis for a world socialist society. Global versus national capitalism has emerged as an important divide in world politics. This divide exists, first of all, within the capitalist class of individual countries. Thus, even in the US, the citadel of globalisation, some capitalists such as Trump supporters are oriented toward the home market and favour national capitalism. And in Russia some capitalists support globalisation. The pattern of political forces differs from country to country.
In Europe, a number of factors combined to encourage populist nationalism and most dramatically, Brexit. The free flow of labour within the EU led to complaints of "Polish plumbers" in the UK. Growing numbers of Muslim migrants has created a culture of fear and anger. This has resulted in a growing number of authoritarian regimes, as in Hungary, and the rise of right-wing anti-immigrant politics personified by Brexit, Marine Le Pen in France, as well as similar parties in Italy, the Netherlands and in Germany. Socialism is the only way we can successfully resist populism. Let’s leave some of the historic baggage surrounding the word “socialism” at the door and start with a clean slate. Socialism does not mean government control. Socialism does not entail a tyrannical one-party state. Socialism means deepening democracy.
The interest of the dominant section of the capitalist class in Britain is that Britain should stay in the EU so as to have free access to the European ‘single market’, but as the Brexit vote showed public opinion is opposed to this on nationalist grounds. We insist that workers in one state have the same basic interest as their counterparts in other states. We are all members of the world working class and have a common interest in working together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the globe will have become the common heritage of all the people of the world and used for the benefit of all. We re-assert the original socialist position that workers ought to act as a world-wide class with a common interest in working to establish a single world community. As socialists we refuse to pander to petty nationalism but work to promote a world without borders or passports. The Socialist Party supports only working-class unity to establish a socialist world. Socialism will be a global co-operative commonwealth, a free world for a free people.
The Socialist Party will be contesting the Euro-election region of South East England and our candidates are: