The Observer reports that Boris Johnson is waiting for the US election before deciding whether to go for a No Deal Brexit. Ivan Rogers, former UK ambassador to the EU, says a Trump victory would make Johnson feel “history was going his way”.
But, “no deal” or “rushed-through last-minute deal”, the UK will experience a destructive and regressive hard Brexit in eight weeks whatever happens. A last-minute bare-bones deal with the EU will just mean it is a bit less destructive.
Solidarity has been warning since March that Brexit at the end 2020 will mean multiplied disruption and suffering in the midst of the fallout from Covid-19. Now we know it will happen in the depths of a powerful second surge of the virus.
As the Observer’s former economics editor William Keegan puts it, “the government has already decided on” a “recovery plan”. Its plan “is to make the economic crisis even worse”.
Repeated polls earlier in the year showed substantial majorities for delaying Brexit in order to tackle Covid-19. More generally Brexit is not popular: on 22 October YouGov found 50% think it was a mistake, to 38% who think it was right — the clearest margin yet.
In the absence of major political forces championing a delay, this sentiment has not cohered as pressure. Hypnotised by the idea saying anything about Brexit would help the Tories, Labour and the unions have got quieter and quieter even about the threat of No Deal. Occasionally Labour spokespeople break their silence to present a hard Brexit based on a last-minute deal with the EU as a good solution.
Given that, the same reality that created a majority for delay — the pandemic — has understandably acted to distract people from the government’s plans. We should point out what is happening.
• Demand Brexit is delayed: pass Labour for a Socialist Europe’s motion in your Labour Party or union branch here
• Another Europe is Possible’s Fight for the Future campaign here.