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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 May 2018

Johnson and Rees-Mogg widen Tory Brexit splits

Tories out!, photo Mary Finch

Tories out!, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Strike together to kick Tories out

Tom Baldwin, Socialist Party national committee

This minority Tory government is the weakest in a generation. Its splits over Brexit are clear for all to see, and that rift extends all the way to the top of the cabinet.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has used an official trip to Latin America to unleash more open criticism of Theresa May, calling on her to "get on with it" and take Britain fully out of the EU's Customs Union.

This is only the latest of a series of attacks he has made on the prime minister's Brexit policy. A few weeks ago he referred to May's proposals for a post-Brexit 'customs partnership' with the EU as "crazy."

Such dissent would never normally be tolerated from members of the cabinet, who are supposed to be bound by 'collective responsibility'. However, May cannot risk sacking Johnson for fear of collapsing her weak and wobbly government.

This is not an isolated spat between Johnson and May. It reflects deep divisions throughout the Tory party, caught between the capitalist class - which wants to stay in the neoliberal EU's Single Market and Customs Union to maximise exploitation and profit - and the big sections of the Tories' diminishing electoral base which oppose it.

Other MPs such as backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg have also gone public with scathing criticisms. Johnson or other ministers could yet force May's hand by resigning if they felt it was in their interests.

Weakness

The Tories' weakness is compounded by the fact that they lost their majority at the last election and are forced to rely on the support of the leadership of Northern Ireland's reactionary Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to govern.

This will now be exacerbated by the overwhelming referendum vote to legalise abortion in the Republic of Ireland, on the back of a mass movement which Socialist Party Ireland helped initiate and lead (see pages 3 and 16). Northern Ireland is now the only part of Britain and Ireland that retains a virtual ban on abortion - which DUP politicians will insist on retaining.

Parliament is supposed to vote on Brexit proposals in September, and the government's deal with the EU is supposed to be finalised by October. Open splits are paralysing the government as these key deadlines come ever closer.

The Tories are incapable of serving their main purpose - ruling effectively in the interests of British capitalism. One of the few things holding them together is the fear of the alternative, a Corbyn-led Labour government, which big business wants even less.

Although it could happen at any time, workers cannot assume that the Tories' divisions will lead inevitably to collapse.

We must bring down this weak and hated government by stepping up and uniting strikes and protests against cuts and privatisations, the pay cap, the roll-out of the cruel universal credit benefit system, and all the other attacks they have inflicted on us.

Jeremy Corbyn must use his position to call for immediate action, and convene a meeting with union leaders to plan coordinated strikes.


National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference

Saturday 7th July 2018, 11.00 to 16.30

25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Open to all trade union and anti-cuts campaigners

2018 has seen the continuation of last year's strike wave, from rail workers fighting the removal of the guards to low-paid health workers and McDonald's staff striking against low pay and the Birmingham bin-workers defending their contracts. University lecturers have also taken action to defend their pensions and mobilised in their thousands to reject the employers' deal. But how much could be achieved if workers fight and strike together? The NSSN has a proud record of fighting for coordinated action against the Tories and the bosses.

www.shopstewards.net

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