No one voted for a deregulatory Brexit.

Race-to-the-bottom will doom the Tories, they must see sense.

So it begins, as Mr Corbyn warned in that fateful campaign. Senior Tories are talking up the prospect of wholesale deregulation now we’ve exited the EU in whole, wanting the seize the opportunity to runaway with fewer standards, protections, and rights in place. I have a lot to say on this.

I want to emphasise this as clearly as possible: the EU was no bulwark against this. The EU is a massive free market enterprise that codifies privatisation and neoliberalism into the DNA of the states that are part of it. The EU would have traded away those protections to keep us in the EU, so saying that this means we should have remained is misguided and ideological.

Brexit is a double edged sword, and we have to win the ground in order to mould the political vision. This is why we should have been all in for Leave, as a united left, from the beginning. Betraying core principles on something like this is the very antithesis of progressive politics.

The wing of capital that plumped for Leave, funded and backed Farage, Johnson, the ERG, and now the Tories, wants to shape the post-Brexit consensus, and it’s had a hell of a head start. It wants us to be a low tax, low wage, deregulated tax haven off the coast of Europe, open to the ravages of finance capital and saddled with a privatised health system. I say, this isn’t what any Leave voter wanted.

Basically no one, including rightwing Leave voters holding particularly odious views on things like immigration or multiculturalism, wanted this. Overwhelmingly, the British public want higher standards and the opposite of a race to the bottom after Brexit. Indeed, even the most rightwing crazed sects of the Leave campaign talked of higher, not lower right and standards.

If the Tories go the route many (including myself) fear they will, they’ll doom themselves politically. A race to the bottom hurts all but a few, and has no belated benefits. Johnson must see through ideology and shape a different course for post-Brexit Britain than his financial backers want, or a progressive government in 2024 will remake the settlement in the left’s favour, and take advantage of all the freedoms to reshape our economy in the interests of the many that leaving the EU hands us, and the Tories want to hand to vested interests.



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Toby Lipatti-Mesme

Insightful and innovative UK journalism and commentary, from Toby Lipatti-Mesme.