Party Line No. 10. August 10th 2017


There is a determined cross-party drive among MPs, backed by big business, to enmesh Britain and any future Labour government in the rules of the Single European Market after leaving the EU. This could be done in a number of ways:

  • Through membership of European Economic Area via the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (which negotiated its own agreement with the EU). This would mean continuing free movement of capital, goods services and people. In the EEA, Britain would have to adopt EU company law and social, consumer and environmental policy (but not the agricultural or fisheries regimes). Some financial obligations to the EU would continue, while others would be voluntary. EEA rules are enforced by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court.
  • Through membership of the European Customs Union like Monaco, the Channel Isles and Isle of Man and – by their own agreements with the EU – Turkey, Andorra and San Marino. Unlike the EEA, this would mean accepting the EU external tariff wall and EU representation in all international trade negotiations (including representation at the WTO).
  • Through a separate bilateral treaty with the EU which would almost certainly mean accepting free movement (possible with transitional limits on immigration from the EU), most if not all Single Market rules, full or partial or joint jurisdiction for the EU Court of Justice and continuing financial contributions to the EU.

Jonathan White and Alex Gordon have set out the left and progressive case against membership of the European Single Market here.

On August 3, the CP Political Committee issued the following statement:

Beware Tory EU exit trap, Communists warn

The Tory government is preparing to bind workers and a future Labour government with EU market and competition rules after Britain leaves the EU, according to the Communist Party.

‘Big business is putting huge pressure on Prime Minister May and her negotiating team to reach a settlement with the EU that would prevent any form of democratic intervention in the economy through an alternative economic and political strategy’, International Secretary John Foster told the party’s Political Committee on Wednesdayevening (August 2).

He warned that any transitional or post-exit treaty with the EU that accepted existing single market or customs union rules and institutions would outlaw policies to support industry, control capital, regulate trade or use public procurement contracts to promote local employment, trade unionism, upskilling and R&D investment.

Mr Foster pointed to the European Free Trade Association court judgement in the Holship case as an example of how EU competition and ‘right of establishment’ law is used to undermine trade unionism and workers’ terms and conditions. Last year, the EFTA Court ruled that a collective agreement protecting the pay of Norwegian dockworkers was invalid under EU treaty law, despite the views of Norway’s own supreme court.

‘More trade union leaders need to speak out about the dangers that the single European market and its super-exploitation of “posted” workers pose to jobs, living standards, local communities and strategic industries’, the CP international secretary suggested. He welcomed, therefore, the recent decision of Britain’s third biggest union, the GMB, to oppose continued membership of the European single market.

Britain’s communists said it was now urgent to bring down the minority Tory government before it could commit Britain to rejoining EFTA and its European Economic Area with the EU, or accepting any further jurisdiction here of the ‘anti-trade union’ EU Court of Justice.

The Communist Party also warned that the Tories and their big business paymasters are seeking trade and investment deals with the USA, Canada and other countries that would enshrine capitalist free market principles, putting corporate profit before the interests of workers and consumers.

On the controversial issue of the so-called free movement of people, Mr Foster accused the EU of hypocrisy and racism.

‘The main concern of the EU has always been to ensure that businesses can employ desperate workers from one part of Europe on terms that undermine pay, conditions and trade unionism in another’, he declared, ‘Free movement has never been extended to people outside “Fortress Europe”, most of them non-white, who have been kept out by ever rising barriers’.

The CP political committee called on the British government unilaterally to grant residency rights to foreign nationals living here and to repeal all discriminatory immigration and nationality legislation passed since 1980.

Reactionary forces and the right-wing media are doing their utmost to misrepresent the struggle in Venezuela and use it against Jeremy Corbyn’s left leadership of the Labour Party. CP General Secretary Rob Griffiths has appeared twice on Talk Radio in recent days to challenge the lies and distortions and on August 3 the Political Committee issued this statement:

Back democracy against violent subversion in Venezuela

The Communist Party of Britain has welcomed the results of last Sunday’s referendum in Venezuela to create a Constituent Assembly under article 347 of that country’s democratically adopted constitution.

The support from more than eight million electors indicates the continuing scale of popular backing for the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Despite the boycott of the referendum by some opposition parties and the orchestrated campaign of street violence, bombings and the assassination of election candidates and supporters, independent observers have verified that 41 per cent of all eligible electors went out to vote.

Britain’s communists condemn the refusal of President Trump and the US administration to recognise the referendum result. Their decision to impose yet more sanctions will inflict further hardship on the people of Venezuela, who are already suffering the grave impact of domestic and external economic sabotage and the collapse of world oil prices.

The Communist Party also condemns the announcements from the president of the EU Parliament, Antonio Tajani, that the parliament would follow the US in refusing to recognise the results and that ‘it is the will of the people of Venezuela to change the regime’.

CP general secretary Robert Griffiths urged people in Britain to lobby their MEPs to repudiate these statements.

‘Mr Tajani, a member of disgraced ex-President Berlusconi’s right-wing Forza Italia outfit, cannot be allowed to pass himself off as a representative of the peoples of Europe to back Donald Trump’s programme of violent regime change in Caracas’, Mr Griffiths declared.

‘The elected government of Venezuela has made great strides in giving voice to the hitherto excluded and unrepresented, redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor – and it is our duty to defend it’.

The Communist Party is urging all members and supporters to come to Manchester on Sunday, October 1. A march and rally called by the People’s Assembly and trades unions will mark the opening day of the Tory Party conference there. It will be important to be there in numbers not only to distribute the Morning Star and Unity! on a mass scale, but also to have an attractive and substantial Party contingent on the march, to show the extent of the demand for alternative policies and to marginalise the LibDem-backed ‘pro-EU’ protest planned for the same day.

The CP Executive Committee will be meeting in the city over that weekend, when members look forward to meeting local comrades at the International Brigades commemoration on Saturday afternoon and at the demonstration on Sunday.

Party members are urged to help organise and fill transport, making sure to order copies of the Morning Star for distribution at departure points (contact Morning Star circulation manager Bernadette McKeaveney on 0778 022-0391).

Communists and socialists should make a note in their diary of an exciting event to celebrate the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.

On Saturday, November 4, the Russian Revolution Centenary Committee is holding a day of discussions and exhibitions featuring speakers such as Aleida Guevara (daughter of Che), Indian communist MP Brinda Karat, German Left Party MP Johanna Scheringer-Wright, historian Mary Davis, Richard Leonard MSP, leading Russian communist Vyacheslav Tetekin (known by African liberation movements as ‘Comrade Slava’) and other guests from Cuba, the USA and elsewhere.

Sessions will look at the history of the Russian Revolution, its impact on Britain and the labour movement and the international relevance of the revolution today.

The event will take place at TUC Congress House, Great Russell St., London WC1B 3LS and tickets are available online and from the Marx Memorial Library.

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