Freedom for the City of London:
Neo-liberal straightjacket for the productive economy

Full details of the Chequers Agreement will only be known when it is published in full as a White Paper later this week and ahead of the next round of negotiations with the EU on Monday 16 July.
However, the outlines are clear from the statement by the prime minister and also the resignation letter from David Davis
Britain will now offer the EU a customs arrangement that will cover manufactured goods and agricultural commodities but not services.  Goods and agricultural products would be traded within the terms of the Single Market. 
This will require compliance with EU Court of Justice decisions (including those that make it illegal to take strike to require overseas based contractors to pay locally bargained wages) and all requirements of EU competition law: no state aid, no public sector monopolies (comprehensive state ownership), no requirement for public sector contracts to exclude blacklisting firms or to require collective bargaining and local purchasing.
Financial services, however, would be free from EU regulation – particularly limits on leverage and taxes levied on transactions.  Britain would also have the freedom to negotiate trade deals for services outside the EU – but not for goods.
The terms are effectively those outlined in the Financial Times on 17-18 May as being welcomed by the City and business and which have been independently developed by the Treasury ahead of the Chequers summit – triggering Davis’s resignation. 
Barnier’s initial response indicates that he may accept this new position as a basis for negotiation.  In terms of its wider political consequences it will address what the Times reported on 7 May as the major concern of ‘senior EU officials’: the impact on the EU’s internal cohesion of a Labour government adopting pro-worker developmental policies involving public ownership and state aid.
It is therefore incumbent on all who support radical options for Scotland and Europe, and who do not want to be tied into a neo-liberal future by either the Tories or the SNP’s Growth Commission report, also based on Single Market membership, to speak out now against this undemocratic deal.

IT’S bad enough dealing with Sports Direct, Southern Trains, TGI Friday’s, Uber, MacDonald’s and the rest of the bad employers we have in Britain, who’ve forced the low-regulation, low-wage, anti-union employment environment.

But it’s been worse over the last 40 years dealing with the consequences of the 30,000 corporate lobbyists who have determined EU policy and become more influential in recent times, aided and abetted by the compliant EU Parliament which has leaned ever more to the right.

At the heart of the worldwide neoliberal period was the freedom of capital from national constraints.

In Britain the first move on behalf of this was made three years after the country agreed to stay in the EU club in the 1976 referendum. In October 1979 Margaret Thatcher abandoned exchange controls on capital.

This opened the Pandora’s box and was the key employers’ plan throughout the EU.

Extracted from the Irish Democrat on James Connolly, published with Morning Star's celebratory edition. Written by Anthony Coughlan, Director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Ireland, and Associate Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin.

James Connolly (1868-1916) was the Marxist socialist who was military commander of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin that started Ireland’s war of independence.

His life and writings are relevant to the left in Britain and across Europe today because of how they show that socialists, leftwingers and the labour movement generally should be the foremost defenders of national independence and national democracy as essential prerequisites for obtaining the social reforms and better world they seek.

Today the European Union has made the national question, the issue of who should make the laws, the central issue of European politics everywhere.

Should it be the national parliament of one’s own country in an independent sovereign state, or should it be the supranational EU Commission, Council of Ministers and Euro-Parliament in Brussels?

States like Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and others that once ruled huge empires and laid down the law for others are finding out nowadays how having to obey European Union laws has made national independence the main issue for them.

Connolly was executed by the British government for seeking to carve an independent Irish state out of the United Kingdom during World War I.

For that purpose he allied his trade union defence force, the Citizen Army, with the radical democrats of the Irish Republican Brotherhood to his political right in the Easter Rising.

By analogy, Britain’s Labour Brexiteers are in the Connolly tradition when they co-operate today with Conservative, Ukip and other Brexiteers on their political right to help take back control for the British state and escape from the coils of the European Union treaties.

These treaties enshrine the classical capitalist laissez-faire – free movement of goods, persons, capital and labour – as constitutional principles on a continent-wide scale.

They are the first constitution in history to be drawn up entirely in the interest of High Finance and Big Capital, without the slightest democratic element. They amount in effect to a contract not to have socialism.

Their provisions would make the programme of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party impossible to implement. That is why the most urgent political task for Labourites and socialists in Britain today is to implement the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum and get the whole of the UK out of the EU – really out of it, not just half way in and half out. For the EU is the face of modern imperialism in our part of the world today.

Brexit is a strategy – re-asserting sovereign power, and changing the legal, economic, trade, security, foreign and diplomatic direction of the UK. Negotiations are the tactics to give effect to the strategy.

The question in 2016 was: ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? ‘ It should be to state the obvious, that to Leave means no longer being a member of EU institutions, subject to its internal rules, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That involves leaving the EU customs union and the Single Market. To do otherwise is to remain.

Continued adherence to the customs union rules out unilateral trade deals with non-EU states. Continued membership of the Single Market, whose rules derive from the Single European Act, an EU institutional pillar, also means staying in - at a disadvantage as an associate, with no voting power or influence over amendment or extension of its rules. ECJ Jurisdiction would apply, as it is the final arbiter on the application of the Single European Act.

There has been confusion over the words ‘Single Market.’ As I describe it above, it is an EU institution, but it can also mean no more than a ‘market’ that encompasses 500 million people in 27 states. That second definition is the one that applies when the EU states trade with the rest of the world. Neither China, USA, Japan or any other country outside the EFTA bloc, are subject to the Single Market Act or the jurisdiction of the ECJ. They trade with the ‘market’ under WTO rules, and do very well.

In coming out of the ‘Single Market’ the UK will seek continued access to the EU ‘market’ but on different terms to those that govern EU-China trade, for example. The free trade flow between the EU states and the UK has existed since 1973. The UK does not want to see impediments to that free flow, so the question is whether the EU wishes to do so, as a means of ‘punishing’ a member state who wishes to leave?

That are strong economic grounds for believing that for all the huffing and puffing, and the odd sound of fury from some EU quarters, the UK objective is possible. They are based on common sense.

The EU 27 exports £690 bn of goods and services to the UK each year, and the UK to them is £628bn. There is a lot of business, investment, and huge numbers of jobs on both sides, at stake. It would be remarkable, indeed remarkably stupid, if German, French, Italian and Dutch business and trade unions do not press for the freest possible bilateral trade. I would not like to be the German MP who, in order to ‘punish’ the UK for having the temerity to leave, was willing to tell his car worker constituents he was deliberately sacrificing their jobs to do so.

From July 2017 ROSE Bulletin

Steve Turner’s Foreword to the new Institute of Employment Right’s publication “Europe, the EU and Britain: Workers’ Rights and Economic Democracy”

“The question of Britain’s membership of the EU was one which divided both Britain and the trade union movement. Important issues were raised on both sides.

On the Remain side, trade union members were deeply concerned about the employment rights underpinned by the European Union (EU); ongoing rights of migrant workers to both stay in the UK and fight exploitation in the labour market; the impact on external investment; and the consequences for trade with Britain’s biggest market as well as the resulting impact on jobs. On the Leave side, the concern was with the neoliberal framework for EU law, the erosion of trade union rights, the restrictions imposed on state aid, on public ownership and the proactive use of public procurement.

‘Programme for a radical restructuring of the economy’

Now, however, we are beyond the debate. A democratic decision has been made. What is critical is the kind of settlement that is reached. This question has been made all the more urgent by political developments in Britain: the emergence of the Labour Party as a credible party of government with a programme for a radical restructuring of the economy, a reassertion of trade union rights and collective bargaining, and an active, interventionist, industrial strategy including a measure of public ownership. The type of settlement reached with the EU will directly determine whether or not this programme can be realised…

‘For the few not the many’

The types of exit from the EU envisaged by the current Conservative government – and there are clearly more than one being canvassed – are all essentially neo-liberal. One will incorporate all elements of EU law into British law, including competition law, in a bid to secure preferential access terms for big business, particularly the City of London. The other, the Singapore model offered by Boris Johnson, would seek trade deals modelled on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and be equally prejudicial to an activist industrial policy.

Whatever the Conservatives try to do, we can be sure it will be for the few and not the many. This is why it is so important that trade unionists identify their own priorities for an EU settlement and campaign for them now.”

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Middle-sized manufacturing firms believe they will benefit in the long run from being outside the Single Market 

A survey published by Financial Times on 15 January reveals that a majority believed that within five years they would benefit from being outside the Single Market. The survey covered firms with a turnover of between £30 million and £300 million. They believe that WTO rules would be beneficial for the trade in goods. This contrasts with the position of major corporations and banks who generate significant income from financial service

Leopard 2 A7, Eurosatory 2010

The main EU battle tank Leopard 2A7 manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Maschinenbau Kiel in service in Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Spain and Sweden  (picture credit: ©Bundeswehr/Modes)

The further development of the EU’s programme for a permanent military structure (PESCO) was approved by the Council of Ministers on 11 December 2017.

Current central EU military expenditures of approximately 1 billion euros annually will be increased to 3.5 billion by 2021. In addition the 25 participating EU states will commit themselves to spending a minimum 2 per cent of their GDP on defence from that date. The increased central EU expenditures will be for developing new military technologies and providing the central command structures for the integration of armed forces.

All EU armed forces will be integrated into NATO command structures. The 2018 EU fact sheet puts it thus: ‘EU Member States and NATO Allies have one single set of forces. Coherence of output and timelines continues to be pursued between the NATO Defence Planning Process and the EU Capability Development Plan.’ A joint declaration was issued 5 December 2017 strengthening agreements on EU-NATO integration set out in the Joint Declaration of 2 December 2016.

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ROSE was formed to bring together those in the trade union and Labour movement who want to campaign for a post-Brexit settlement that protects and enhances workers’ rights both at work and politically in terms of the freedom of Scottish governments to advance democratic control and public ownership.

Our core principles are, 
•    the enhancement of workers’ rights in Scotland
•    internationalism and solidarity with all those across Europe struggling against austerity and privatisation.