Sunday 27 October 2019

Brexit Jokers

The Tories in England had long imagined that they were enthusiastic about monarchy, the church, and the beauties of the old Englsh constitution, until the day of danger wrung from them the confession that they are enthusiastic only about ground rent.”Karl Marx

The Brexit ‘debate’ is supposedly about the UK taking back control of its ‘destiny’ from the European Union. Brexit bores its way on while its advocates get on with the business of making as much money as they can without having to take notice of nation-state or borders. And Brexit itself can be a cash-cow. 

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has claimed that “Johnson is backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit – and there is only one option that works for them: a crash-out no-deal that sends the currency tumbling and inflation soaring,”


Of course the EU can still have its uses. 


Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Enforcer”, Dominic Cummings, talks about getting rid of ‘absurd subsidies’ paid out by the EU. He is co-owner of a farm which has received £235,000 in EU farming subsides


Conservative MP Richard Drax, descendant of a 19th century slave-owner owns a farm that has received an EU grant of £411,000.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, in charge of steering Brexit legislation through the House of Lords is a partner in a family farm, which in 2017 received £49,000 in EU agricultural subsidies.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Tory Chief Whip in the House of Lords has a shareholding in a farm which received an EU subsidy of £159,000 in 2017.

Mark Spencer, Conservative MP and government Whip is a partner in a Nottinghamshire farm which received an EU subsidy of £14,000 in 2017.

And what about the loyalties of leading Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who famously said that “We are removing an imperial yoke”. He is co-founder of Somerset Capital, a £6.5 billion company based in London and Singapore. He stepped-down from the company on his appointment as Leader of the House of Commons, but he was then compensated with £1million from the company’s 2018 profits. If you search the company’s website you will be no wiser as to how they bring in the moola. Their mission satement has the clarity of mud, “Assessing governance risk and interacting with management teams to protect the value of our investment has been a cornerstone of our investment process since the firm was founded.” Let us take a guess that little of that £6.5 billion came from investments or activities within the United Kingdom.

And others? Lord George Magan is a former Conservative party chairman who has donated around £1.5m to the Tories. He is connected to the offshore law firm, Appleby.


Philip May, husband of former PM Theresa May, is a banker and pension fund expert. He is a senior executive at Capital Group, a US investment company that controls $1.4 trillion in assets. Linked to the Paradise Papers scandal Private Eye claimed the company use Appleby, to arrange investments in tax havens.

It would seem that loyalty to country does not weigh heavily on the Brexiteer mind.

I am not concerned about the ‘nationality’ of the capitalists who control our economy. Indeed capital has one progressive virtue. It is internationalist, but since our politicians claim they are putting Britain first, let us take a closer look at how they do that.

Of our energy companies EDF, a subsidiary of the French Government-owned energy company Électricité de France owns what were once London Electricity, SWEB, Seeboard and British Energy. E.ON is a German-owned group which bought UK energy company Powergen. NPOWER is a subsidiary of German energy company RWE Group which took over National Power, Calortex, Independent Energy and Midlands. SCOTTISH POWER is a subsidiary of Spanish company Iberdrola, formerly the South of Scotland Electricity Board. It later bought Manweb, the energy company supplying Merseyside and North Wales.

With transport, of twenty eight private rail and bus companies, 70% of them, are now partially or wholly owned by foreign states or their railways. German state railways, Deutsche Bahn, own Chiltern, Cross Country, London Overground, Tyne & Wear Metro, Borders and Northern. Dutch state railway Abello own Greater Anglia and French state railways own Keolis, running Transport for Wales and South Eastern.

With the escalating privatisation of NHS services, the Deparment of Health and Social Care awarded contracts worth £9.2bn last year to private providers, many of them non-UK based. NHS digital GP service providers Livi, is Swedish-owned. HCA International, running six UK hospitals and bone and cancer treatment centres, is a US company. Babylon Health, set up by ex-Goldmann Sachs banker Ali Parsa and providing digital diagnosis and GP services, is registered in Jersey and since they pay no UK tax cannot be considered a UK-based company. AB Kinnervik is a Swedish/ Egyptian company. Virgin Care, registered in the British Virgin Isles, is in the same categoty as Babylon Health.

The solution? Certainly not Brexit, but neither would be a return to the consensus politics that have brought us to this situation. We have had years of austerity overseen by these ‘turn the telly off’ politicians. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that over 14 million people are living in households with an income below the poverty line, with those numbers increasing daily. The number of people using food banks since 2010 has gone from the tens of thousands to the millions. The Office for National Statistics show that people born in the most deprived areas of England can expect to have over 18 fewer years of life than those born in the least deprived areas.

But don’t despair. As of July 2019, the Labour Party had nearly half a million members, making it the largest membership party in Europe. Today their policies include a four-day week, (with no loss of pay), £10 an hour minimum wage, reversal of anti-union legislation, reversal of NHS privatisation, the renationalisation of transport and energy companies, the scrapping of tuition fees, worker ownership funds, the abolition of in-work poverty, a National Care Service, a Green New Deal (with a 2030 net-zero carbon target), the protection of free movement, the closure of all immigration detention centres and a Brexit referendum which will not disrespect how people vote or voted in the past.

Can any of you think of a reason not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?