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Editorial: It’s crunch time for Brexit – there’s no going back

RANKS of ardent Remainers are presently arriving in London for what is now a demonstration against the European Union leadership.

They have chosen a hard row to hoe. Every time the people in an EU state vote in ways which thwart the direction the masters of the EU universe desire, a constitutional device peculiar to each of these states is mobilised to compel a re-vote until the right answer is delivered.

Of course, when the millionaires funding the slick Remain campaign conceived of this demonstration in support of the Commons Remain majority, they thought they were to be mobilised to prevent Britain exiting the EU without a withdrawal deal.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Michael Barnier have shot their fox, torpedoed their leaky vessel and instead done a deal with Boris Johnson.

Set aside the ludicrous posturing of the boorish Prime Minister, prick the bubble of hyper-ventilated hot air, discount the shit-eating grin of Jacob Rees-Mogg and what we have before MPs today is an agreement signed off by the EU that differs from that which they negotiated with Theresa May only in as far as it is a bit more fully Brexit, a little less tied into the EU straitjacket and a little less constrained by the rules designed to preserve the unequal distribution of power.

A deal done by this hopelessly unrepresentative Tory government and the neoliberal bosses of the capitalist European Union must necessarily be subjected to a fierce interrogation. 

Labour is right to scrutinise the text of the agreement and the political statement for any hint that such protections for consumers’ or workers’ rights that presently exceed those won in a domestic struggle might be compromised.

This is the legitimate role of an opposition that fully respects the democratic mandate with which it was elected.

Over the past three years and since the overwhelming majority of MPs were elected on manifesto commitments to honour the referendum result, we have seen many versions of Brexit presented for inspection. None of them remotely resemble Remain.

This is crunch time. The British people — who have already spoken — are not the protagonists in this particular episode. 

This government, which MPs have refused to remove, has, against the expectations and manifest hopes of all those parliamentary renegades who have repeatedly found ways to subvert the popular will, reached agreement with the European Commission.

This is the actually existing Brexit. There is no going back. The European Union insists there will be no renegotiation.

It is important to keep a sense of perspective here. This is a withdrawal agreement that offers an escape from the obligations that the EU treaty regime imposes and a space for a more considered negotiation about the form of Britain’s relationship with its continental neighbours — both those in the EU and those without. 

It seems to satisfy the EU’s desire for a limited period of calm reflection and orderly progress. 

In reassembling his motley crew around a policy which commands a broad measure of party support, Johnson has begun to reassert the claim his party has to more fully represent ruling class interests. In doing so he has dumped big time on the DUP.

In drawing the border down the middle of the Irish Sea the deal makes it clear that the Tories are no longer prepared to allow a party representing an anachronistic slither of opinion to veto government policy. For its part, the DUP seems an ever more out of touch force in the northern part of what increasingly looks like a nation once again.

Johnson is stronger than he was when Labour refused a general election last month, but only because repeated delays mean politics is dominated by Brexit. The sooner it is behind us the sharper can be Labour’s focus on the pressing social and environmental crises only a socialist government can begin to address.

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