Britain: break the Brexit deadlock – force a general election!

The turbulent events in Westminster over the past week have done nothing to break the parliamentary paralysis over Brexit. May’s deal has been crushed, leaving the Prime Minister humiliated. But Tory rebels and DUP MPs have closed ranks to support this crumbling Conservative government.

Blairite backbenchers are trying to force Corbyn into support a second referendum. But this would do nothing to resolve the crises facing the working class in Britain: from housing and the disaster of Universal Credit, through to stagnant wages and ravaged public services.

Instead, what we need is a general election and the coming to power of a socialist Labour government. Only in this way can we begin to address the desperate situation facing workers and youth.

Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to bring this about in parliament through a vote of no confidence. But the numbers in the House of Commons mean this avenue is a dead end, since it would require the support of Tory or DUP MPs to pass. And this is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

Under pressure to provide a way forward, Corbyn has now tabled an amendment that would see parliament vote on options to avoid leaving the EU without a deal. These include Labour’s alternative Brexit deal (involving a customs union and “a close relationship” with the single market), as well as a public vote.

But it is not clear that any alternative to May’s ill-fated deal could command a majority in parliament. Many Labour right-wingers, meanwhile, will not be happy with anything less than a fresh EU referendum and an overturning of the 2016 result. Hence the Brexit impasse continues.

Break the deadlock

It is clear, therefore, that a general election will not be brought about through parliamentary manoeuvres. Instead, we need extra-parliamentary means to bring down this rotten Tory government.

Corbyn Forward Socialist Appeal UKCorbyn must mobilise his supporters to force a general election. The yellow vests in France have shown the way / Image: Socialist Appeal

The leaders of the labour movement should be mobilising workers and youth to kick out the Tories. This means organising a mass campaign, involving demonstrations, strikes, and coordinated strike action in towns and cities across the country.

The inspiring movement of the gilets jaunes in France has shown the way. Through their mass protests, the yellow vests were able to land a significant blow against the arrogant Macron government. It is time we in Britain followed their lead.

Below are two model motions that we encourage activists to use in Labour Party meetings, Momentum groups, university Labour clubs, and trade union branches.

The first was passed by a Socialist Appeal activist in Liverpool Wavertree CLP last week (where arch-Blairite Luciana Berger is MP), before the recent votes in parliament. Nevertheless, the demands it raises remain 100 percent correct and relevant, and should be put forward in Labour branches and CLPs everywhere.

The second motion was raised by a Socialist Appeal supporter in Manchester Gorton CLP earlier this week, following May’s historic defeat but before last Wednesday’s vote of no confidence. Again, the arguments and demands raised are vitally important and should be put forward in order to build a mass movement capable of booting out the Tories and bringing a socialist Labour government to power.

This is the only way of breaking the current deadlock and putting an end to the Brexit chaos.


Model motion – passed in Liverpool Wavertree CLP

Liverpool Wavertree CLP believe that a general election is essential given the ravages of austerity and the Tory control of the Brexit process. We believe only the election of a socialist Labour government can lead to a solution to the present crises: not only the one in Parliament, but those on our streets and in working class communities.

However, we also believe that at present that there isn't a majority in Parliament for a vote of no confidence.

Therefore we also believe that a movement must be built outside of Parliament. We therefore support the demonstration called by the People's Assembly on the 12th January.

We also resolve to:

  1. Support a local rally for a general election and mandate our officers to organise this along with other Labour parties, trade unions, campaigns and community groups. The rally to take place in January.
  2. Call upon the NEC to initiate a national campaign along with trade unions for a general election. To include a national assembly and national demonstration.
  3. Mandate our delegates to the Local Campaign Forum to move for a meeting of all Labour Party Members in Liverpool to develop a local campaign against council funding cuts and link this to the need for a general election and a socialist Labour government.

Model motion – raised in Manchester Gorton CLP

This branch notes:

  • The current Conservative-led government has lost a vote on their major Brexit bill by an unprecedented margin of 230.
  • Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a vote of no confidence in the government. Theresa May’s government can only survive this by relying on many votes from MPs who previously voted against her in a vote of confidence for her leadership of the Conservative Party.
  • Labour conference, as well as numerous branches and union bodies, have resolved to make a general election the highest priority.

This branch further notes:

  • Many public sector unions – including NHS staff, teachers, academics, local government, civil service – are engaged in industrial disputes with the government.
  • The ability of local councils to provide the most basic services is under existential threat due to continuing budget cuts.
  • Workers in Britain are at breaking point, squeezed by insecure work, eroded wages, and rising costs of living.
  • The yellow vest movement in France in the recent period has won important concessions from Macron, including scrapping the fuel tax that sparked the protests, and the introduction of other reforms, showing that militant mass action can achieve important victories.

This branch believes:

  • The current government has no legitimacy.
  • Britain needs a general election to elect a socialist Labour government as the highest priority. This is the only way to tackle the urgent crises the workers and poor of Britain face because of austerity, and to solve the parliamentary deadlock around Brexit.
  • Through parliamentary arithmetic alone, a vote of no confidence in the government is unlikely to be passed at this stage, as Conservative and DUP MPs will likely unite against it. Therefore a movement must be built outside parliament.
  • Only a mass movement, mobilised and organised in our workplaces and on the streets, can force a general election and bring a socialist Labour government to power.
  • The TUC should capitalise on the current weakness of the government to advance the industrial struggles of workers affected by austerity, privatisation and precarity through nationally coordinated industrial action.
  • A mass mobilisation linking the demands of embattled workers with removing the current government would be enormously popular and powerful if provided with committed national leadership and coordination.

This branch resolves:

  • To call upon the Labour Party NEC and the TUC to organise a nationally coordinated campaign of action to bring down this government and end austerity, including organising a one-day general strike.
  • Locally to work with the Trades Council to organise public meetings and general assemblies to build for demonstrations and strikes, demanding a general election.
  • To mandate our officers to work with other Labour Party bodies, unions, community groups and campaigns to organise a local rally before 21st February 2019.
  • To pass this motion to Gorton CLP as an emergency motion to be discussed on the 17th January 2019, asking Afzal Kahn MP to publically call for such a strategy.