In her letter to the European Commission formally giving notice of the UK triggering Article 50 to withdraw from the EU, Theresa May made specific reference s to two areas of policy, economics and security. Linking these was widely interpreted as a veiled threat to ensure a more benevolent negotiating position from the EU countries. While this may be correct it is far from the whole story. There was another audience – us! Economics and security go to the heart of the disastrous policies which this amoral government is intent on pursuing.
Focussing on economics and security as a combination (as opposed to say, social policy or the environment) is entirely consistent with Theresa May’s pursuit of the kind of autocratic neo-Conservatism I have alluded to in an earlier post. The implicit threats of a ‘bonfire’ of red tape presents a real danger to the rights and conditions of working people. This means that Sports Direct and JD Sports warehouse conditions will become the norm rather than the exception. Add this to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s threat turn Britain into an offshore tax haven, effectively ending the possibility of adequately funding public service provision and the scene is set for wage slave conditions and the return of the workhouse. May’s clever move was to present such a prospect up front in an attempt to gain misplaced patriotic support at the expense of individual rights, as I pointed out here. The argument will be that we shall need to work in this manner in order to show the big bad EU that we can run a ‘successful economy’. You can almost hear the rhetoric now; cutting red tape to unleashing the creative potential of plucky Brits in the ‘gig economy’ to thrash those Johnny foreigners in the EU! In reality the only things unleashed will be the size of the bank accounts for the likes of Philip Green and Mike Ashley.
Consider the second point of emphasis, security. As a result of the events in Westminster Parliamentary attacks, Home Secretary Amber Rudd is already proposing breaking into encrypted messaging services in the name of ‘security’. This is in spite of the evidence to suggest that it was a lone wolf attack, the most difficult to stop using correspondence surveillance. But the revelations from the CIA reveals that without strict and accountable line of authority such technology cans be used for more than just extremist terrorism. There is nothing to stop future governments (also conceivably led by that nemesis of Human Rights, Theresa May) broadening ‘threat’ to include the EU itself if negotiations go wrong (as seems likely) or ‘environmental activists’ as has already happened in local instances. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Government can harness the natural instincts of people to gather closer together for protection.
The autocratic part? Aside from continued attempts to exclude Parliament from taking an active part in Brexit, todays white paper on the Great Repeal Bill makes specific reference to the Government taking ‘delegated powers’. Even as it stands it is anticipated that up to 1000 instances of Ministers making alterations to statute while bypassing Parliament will occur. The likelihood is that number will explode with ample opportunity for the Government to sneak through legislation which is only remotely related to EU separation.
Make no mistake, the Article 50 letter was as much for our consumption as for the EU Commission. Brexit has provided the perfect opportunity for the Government to pursue its neo=Conservative policies. But they were going to be pursued anyway. If Brexit had not happened another pretext would have been found.