Britain: Boris Johnson Determined to Impose a No Deal Brexit


For resistance on the streets and a general strike to bring down this reactionary government!


By Joseph Adams, RCIT Britain, 13 August 2019,




Boris Johnson who has succeeded Theresa May as Prime Minister and Tory leader has revenged himself on his opponents. He has sacked half the cabinet and appointed leading Brexiteers to important cabinet positions – including Dominic Raab as Foreign secretary and Priti Patel as Home Secretary. His government majority is down to one after the result of the Brecon and Radnor By-election where the sitting Tory was defeated by the Liberal democrats supporting a remain position. Politics in Britain is dominated by clear divisions between Brexit or Remain.


Dominic Raab, Johnson’s Foreign Secretary, has stated it will be easier to negotiate with the EU after No deal on the 31st October thereby rejecting the EU’s withdrawal proposals agreed with Teresa May.


“Dominic Raab has claimed Britain will be in a better position to negotiate a “good deal” with the European Union if it crashes out of the bloc before the end of October. The foreign secretary believes a no-deal scenario could provide more leverage in the context of a free trade agreement and resolve long-standing issues such as the Irish backstop”. [1]




The Threat to the Union




Johnson and the Brexiteers by proceeding on a course to crash out of the EU without an agreement threaten the United Kingdom. The Act of Settlement of 1701 established a union with Scotland, the other two nations of Wales and Northern Ireland became part of Britain later under devolved powers as did Scotland. Northern Ireland with the Good Friday agreement is now a power sharing authority with Britain temporarily suspended with direct rule from Westminster. All three countries voted with a majority to remain within the European Union in the 2016 Referendum.


Johnson has no mandate to enforce a no deal Brexit in those countries and faces massive opposition to his no deal scenario. Johnson has recently visited all these countries. He desperately needs the support of the Democratic Unionist Party, a right wing racist party in Northern Ireland, to have a majority in Parliament. Most of the Brexiteers want to reject the Backstop – a limited customs union agreed in the Good Friday agreement but opposed vehemently by the Brexiteers and the DUP.


“Boris Johnson has said it is up to the EU to compromise to avoid a no-deal Brexit, after his demands for the backstop to be scrapped were met with a flat refusal from the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Vardakas. In comments that showed he is preparing to blame the EU if the UK ends up leaving without a deal, Johnson said he was not aiming for a no-deal Brexit but the situation was “very much up to our friends and partners across the Channel .A spokesman for Varadkar said: “The Taoiseach emphasized to the prime minister that the backstop was necessary as a consequence of decisions taken in the UK and by the UK government. “Noting that the Brexit negotiations take place between the UK and the EU, the Taoiseach explained that the EU was united in its view that the withdrawal agreement could not be reopened”. [2]


Boris Johnson is facing the situation of the breakup of the Union. The Backstop or limited customs union if dead will mean a reversion to a hard border between England and Ireland an EU state and problems this will cause problems for the British bourgeoisie as well as the Irish bourgeoisie.


In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein, which is part of the power sharing government with the DUP and a petit bourgeoisie party, has stated that if a no deal proceeds on the 31st October the Northern Ireland electorate should have a ballot to decide on reunification of Ireland as the Irish electorate did not vote for Brexit but the opposite to remain the EU.


“It would be “unthinkable” if a no-deal Brexit was not followed by a poll on Irish reunification, the leader of Sinn Fein has warned Boris Johnson, also telling the prime minister that no one believed he was impartial on Northern Ireland. In the longer term, we have advised him that constitutional change is in the air. He can’t say that he hasn’t been told,” Mary Lou McDonald said after meeting Johnson at Stormont on Wednesday morning any Brexit but particularly no deal, “represents in anybody’s language a dramatic change of circumstances on this island, and … it would be unthinkable in those circumstances that people would not to be given the opportunity to decide on our future together”, McDonald said”. [3]




A Second Referendum in Scotland over Independence




Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister in Scotland, is opposed to a no deal scenario and wants a close relationship with the European capitalists and bourgeoisie. After Boris Johnson visited Scotland she told him that Scotland voted for a Remain position opposed to the Brexit position advocated by Johnson and his supporters. It is the ruling class in the upper echelons of the SNP who believe a second referendum is the only way to be part of the European Union and break away from Britain.


“Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon has written to Boris Johnson to tell him that she is “looking forward” to discussing with him her proposals for a second independence referendum. Using her first letter to the new prime minister to remind him of Scottish government analysis which found that a no-deal Brexit could cost 100,000 jobs across Scotland, she writes: “Given your public comments about leaving the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, “come what may” and “do or die it is now – more than ever – essential that in Scotland we have an alternative option. Stating that her government would continue the parliamentary progress of legislation to enable a second referendum on independence, which Sturgeon has indicated she would like to hold before 2021, she tells Johnson: “The right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future is a basic democratic principle that must be respected.” [4]


Sturgeon’s real reason is the survival of the capitalist class in Scotland and for that purpose she needs Scotland as an independent country within in the European Union. Her bleeding heart about Scottish jobs is so much window dressing and not to be believed.


Under such circumstances such a second referendum on independence in fact becomes a referendum about membership in Britain or in the European Union. In other words, it would be a referendum about membership in one or another imperialist state. Marxists can not support any of these two options. During the first referendum in 2014 there existed arguments to lend critical support for independence given the significant support this option had among the politically active sectors of the working class. However, as things are today, we would under such circumstances not advocate neither “independence” (i.e. membership in the EU) nor remaining in the United Kingdom.




A General Election is imminent




Boris Johnson faces a number of obstacles but he could still remain as Prime Minister even if a no confidence motion was successful. Johnson has very close relations with Nigel Farage. Farage is the leader of the Brexit party which counts racists and fascists amongst their members responsible for assaults and physical attacks against migrants and Muslims in Britain. We have fixed term parliaments and as Teresa May found out to her costs this is a parliament supporting the remain position.


Johnson’s government is Islamophobic and racist creating concentration camps like Belmarsh and Yarlswood where many migrants and refugees are incarcerated without trial or due process. The Immigration Service and the Home Office secretly locks migrants and refugees away removes their visas and then deports them back to countries where they are likely to be executed or shot.


If Johnson fails to get the support from parliament he may call a snap General Election. The main opposition party, the Labour Party, is riven by being a split Party between the neoliberal Blairite wing led by Tom Watson, the deputy leader, and Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn is a left reformist leader who remains a hostage to the right wing and is unable to break out of the noose they have put around him. At all costs Watson and his cronies must stop Corbyn remaining leader and for an election under his leadership. The PLP is composed of careerists and opportunist former Blairites who favour alliances with the SNP, Liberal Democrats and other bourgeois capitalist parties. This is why they have witch-hunted Corbyn’s supporters with the absurd accusation of “anti-Semitism” and got many either suspended or expelled from the Labour Party. Socialism is anathema to these Blairites. They need to turn the party into a fully acceptable instrument for the ruling class.


“The aim of the Zionists and Blairites is to use antisemitism as a weapon to drive out all pro-Corbyn supporters and socialists in the Labour party and turn the Labour party once more into a pro-capitalist and pro-austerity party tied to British imperialism. Anti-Semitism is a red herring used by the pro-imperialists in the Labour party like Blair, Watson and others to prevent the election of a Corbyn-led anti-austerity government. The Blairites and Zionists have strong connections with Mossad, the secret intelligence service of the Israeli state, and are determined to purge the Labour party of socialists and anyone who criticises Zionism or the state of Israel”. [5]


The Blairites know that with trigger ballots their days as MP’s are over. Their main task is to form alliances with Anti-Brexit Tories the SNP and the Liberal Democrats to form a possible National government but at all costs stop the election of a Corbyn-led government. John McDonnell has stated that to prevent a hard Brexit that Jeremy Corbyn should form a caretaker government and call on Her Majesty the Queen to install Corbyn as ca caretaker Prime Minister.


“John McDonnell has doubled down on his pledge that Labour would reject a government of national unity and instead would push for Jeremy Corbyn to form a government or for a general election, in a move that appeared to stymie plans being prepared by Tory rebels. McDonnell told audience at an Edinburgh festival fringe event that it would be unsustainable for Boris Johnson to remain as prime minister if he no longer had a Commons majority. The shadow chancellor said that if the Conservative leader failed to quit he would not “want to drag the Queen into this but [he] would be sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace to say ‘we’re taking over’”. [6]




Neither Remain or Brexit! For Revolutionary Defeatism!




The RCIT has stated on previous occasions that Brexit is a reflection of the global crisis of capitalism as well as of the accelerating rivalry between imperialist states.


“The upcoming elections in the European Union take place in a climate of crisis and decay. The looming next Great Recession has already resulted in the decline of industrial production in Germany and Italy. The never-ending Brexit crisis is a direct expression of the conflict between warring camps of the ruling classes of Europe”. [7]


Revolutionaries should help the workers vanguard not to follow any bourgeois imperialist camp. No support for an independent imperialist national state (Brexit) nor for staying within the imperialist European Union (Remain). We advocate instead a revolutionary defeatist position against both bourgeois imperialist options. We call socialists to campaign for abstention in any referendum on EU membership and for independent and international class struggle.


In this period of great changes, conflicts and immense revolutionary possibilities the RCIT in Britain calls for maximum unity of revolutionary activists. The RCIT believes that this can only be done with a daring perspective for revolutionary change.


The RCIT in Britain puts forward the following transitional demands.


* Expel Tom Watson and his gang of wreckers from the Labour Party. Close down all disciplinary procedures and committees and reinstate all socialists expelled back into membership of the Labour Party. Critical support for a Corbyn-led Labour Party in case of general elections!


* For Open Borders - no immigration controls! Migrants and refugees to speak their own language and wear their own dress and practice their own religion. No to Islamophobia and racism. For armed defence guards to protect communities threatened with fascist or police provocation.


* For a Free Red Palestine from the River to the Sea.


* For a general strike and to bring down this reactionary and racist government.


* No to Remain or Brexit. Abstention in case of a new referendum on EU membership.


* For a Revolutionary Workers Government. For a United Socialist States of Europe. Build the 5th International. Join the RCIT in Britain.