By Ronnie Smith
During the seemingly interminable crisis that is Brexit, one of the most interesting sub-plots for me has been the strange dance of the pro-Brexit Left and Right in the British political mainstream. The have both wanted the same thing, the hardest of Brexits, but for entirely different reasons.
Many people hoped that Mr Corbyn, after his campaign against the remnants of New Labour, would make it his business if not to oppose Brexit altogether, at least to bring a civilising presence to bear on the process. They were sadly deluded having forgotten, if they had ever known, that Mr Corbyn has always subscribed to the late Peter Shore’s anti-EEC/EU position and continues to regard the EU as a rich businessman’s club with moderated benefits for the working class.
Mr Corbyn’s recent speech has made clear that, for him, the EU is simply one part of the vast capitalist conspiracy called Globalisation through which British workers have been denied the opportunities in manufacturing that are currently offered to ‘foreign’ workers, Britain has been “forced to rely on foreign labour” I believe he said. Brexit will provide the dynamic to return Britain to a high-wage, full-employment economy. “British jobs for British Workers”, as Gordon Brown famously said, or socialism in one country, as Josef Stalin once proclaimed.
There are many things wrong with this simple scenario but perhaps the biggest is that globalisation is really about the dispassionate movement of capital to locations and business environments that offer the greatest profit. I very much doubt that even one as lauded as Mr Corbyn can do much to change that very substantial fact. Nonetheless, I do not see Mr Corbyn and his people doing anything to oppose an eventual hard or even a No Deal Brexit given his current train of thought.
It has become clear in the last couple of weeks, as the clock runs down on Mrs May’s chaotic game plan, that Britain’s available options are hardening. The ‘Soft Brexit’ on offer is only as moderate as the British government’s recent White Paper which, in general terms can now be termed the ‘have-our-cake-and-eat-it’ programme. The White Paper finally acknowledges the serious weaknesses in Britain’s current global trading position (disregard GDP figures that tell us how good we are at buying and selling things to each other) and hopes that the EU will be lenient and co-operative enough to help Britain get back on her feet in the medium term.
However, that option has never been acceptable to the British Right and it is now very clear that they have been hoping for a No Deal Brexit all along, disrupting any potential alternative in the meantime. When asked what a No Deal Brexit means, Messrs Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Farage et al vaguely tell everyone that not knowing and not planning is the beauty of the whole thing because a No Deal Brexit will offer the British people the opportunity to make whatever they wish of it. For them, a No Deal Brexit is pure, it carries the scent of victory after a long hard struggle.
I believe that they are being utterly disingenuous here, as if Mr Boris Johnson would ever be party to such a thing. I think they know and have always known what a No Deal Brexit looks like and it looks like Chile from 1975 – 1995 when the country experimented with the late Professor Milton Friedman’s theoretical blueprint of a perfect market economy in which the state was reduced to the bare minimum and all other economic activity was owned, organised and operated privately.
A perfect market economy is built on the bedrock of the deregulation of virtually everything to do with wealth creation including ownership of national assets, the trading of stocks and shares, the labour market including hiring, firing and the setting of ‘competitive’ wage levels without having to worry about trades union interference, health insurance and social benefits. Everything is owned by private investment with a view to making a profitable return and that investment can come from anywhere.
In the case of the United Kingdom the prize asset, aside from Britain’s military/industrial and energy sectors, is the National Health Service. Imagine the profits made available to private health insurance companies if all of the NHS was opened up to investment from they and their global business partners.
It is interesting to note that the EU and the USA have just concluded an initial session of talks aimed at avoiding a trade war. The possibility of restarting the talks on the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), stalled by Obama, was raised by the Americans which, I think, shows that the trans-Atlantic Right have been working to a schedule from before the EU referendum took place in Britain.
The key word in TTIP is the ‘I’, the vastly profitable investment opportunities that will become available to US services companies when any such deal treaty is signed. However, in Britain, a No Deal Brexit presents those opportunities at a much earlier date.
Professor Friedman created what became known as the Chicago School of Economics at the University of Chicago. His free market theories won him the Nobel Prize in Economics and their practical application in Chile was facilitated by a violent military coup in 1973. The trans-Atlantic Right do not need a military coup to put Professors Friedmans ideas into profitable action in Britain, a No Deal Brexit will be their facilitator and Mr Corbyn will be denied his dream of socialism in one country.