Class struggle after Brexit.

Author:Bailey, David

The Brexit debate has highlighted major divides within British politics and the politics of the left. During the referendum campaign, the Labour Party seemed to divide roughly between lukewarm support for Remain among the new Corbyn leadership, and enthusiasm from the party's more liberal or centrist membership and, especially, parliamentary elite. Likewise, the trade union movement saw most unions--with the exception of the more militant Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT)--support Remain. In contrast, some on the far left advocated Lexit, in opposition to the neoliberal European Union (EU), most notably the Socialist Workers Party. This then combined with the fact that a significant proportion of the Labour Party's natural constituency voted Brexit, and that low income correlated with support for the Leave vote. That lower income voters also adopted a position that contrasted with that of most of the political elite has also been interpreted by many as a sign that Leave was an anti-establishment vote, as well as being prompted by fears that falling wages resulted from heightened immigration. Since the Brexit vote took place, however, we have seen growing concern that the effect will be detrimental for workers' rights, and produce damaging divisions, especially between those same groups with low incomes, and increase the potential for xenophobia, racism and racially motivated abuse and violence.

Brexit therefore clearly raises difficult questions for anti-capitalists. As such, Capital and Class has put together the present forum in an attempt to foster further discussion around the issue, specifically from the perspective of class struggle and what the vote means for the left. This forum therefore represents an attempt to bring together a number of important contributions to the debate, reflecting a range of positions that are united only by the fact that we share a concern for how class struggle can be advanced in the complex context of Brexit. The forum initially arose from a roundtable debate which took place at the British International Studies Association-International Political Economy Group (BISA-IPEG) annual conference, at Leeds Beckett University in October 2016. The roundtable highlighted the contentious nature of the Brexit issue, and as such we have since sought to turn contributions to that roundtable into the written contributions in the following pages.

In that earlier roundtable, each contributor was asked to consider the...

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