EVERY DAY GIVES US more evidence of how Boris Johnson’s government is a government of the one per cent and for the one per cent. To put it simply, Johnson and his hard-right cabinet are not only on the side of the establishment – they are the establishment. A week before I wrote this article the Conservatives and DUP had a majority of one in the House of Commons and at the time of writing their majority is down to minus 45.
Despite this situation, Johnson and his divisive hard-right cabinet are willing to gamble with people’s jobs and living standards, both in the debate around a no-deal Brexit and in their broader approach to economic policy. Whatever Tory spin doctors may say, austerity is very much not over.
Johnson boasted during the Tory leadership campaign that no one was a better friend of the bankers who crashed the economy than him – at least on this he is staying true to his word. And while the Tories may want to deny it, nine years of failed, ideologically driven austerity has had real and devastating human consequences, as illustrated by spiralling levels of poverty and inequality.
Johnson’s government is committed to extreme Thatcherite policies and that is one of the reasons why the government has at its heart people committed to a reckless, right wing no-deal Brexit – staking all our futures on a sweetheart trade deal with Donald Trump that would risk the takeover of the NHS by US corporations.
Have no doubt – the reason many Tories would relish a no-deal is because they see it as an opportunity to open up Britain to a one-sided trade deal with the US. As Jeremy Corbyn said at the TUC Congress: “A no-deal Brexit is really a Trump-deal Brexit, leading to a one-sided US trade deal negotiated from a position of weakness.” As he explained: “It will put us at the mercy of Trump and the big US corporations itching to get their teeth further into our NHS, sound the death knell for our steel industry and permanently drive down rights and protections for workers.”
The Tories would use the cover of a no-deal Brexit to pursue their wildest Thatcherite dreams to flog off our public services, strip away all the regulations that keep us safe, and undermine workers’ rights and environmental protections.
And a no-deal would destroy jobs, push up food prices and cause shortages of everyday medicines that people rely on. It would be ordinary people who would pay the price, not the Prime Minister and his wealthy friends. No doubt migrants would be scapegoated for all the problems that the government’s approach would cause.
We in Labour will keep fighting this. We won’t let him cause enormous damage to jobs, living standards, our NHS and security, or put peace in Northern Ireland at risk. Boris Johnson has shut down Parliament to try to avoid scrutiny, but we will not let him off the hook. Labour will do all we can to protect our industries, protect our democracy and protect our people against this dangerous government.
It is Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, that is on the side of the overwhelming majority of people in the real battle against the born-to-rule establishment that the Tories have always represented – and still do today. The Financial Times of all journals summed this up when they recently reported that Labour is “determined to shift power away from bosses and landlords and to workers and tenants.”
That’s why Labour is both fighting a no-deal Brexit and getting ready for a coming general election that will give us the chance to boot Boris Johnson out and win a government to transform our country – for the many, not the few.
is shadow Home Secretary