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Wednesday 1 March 2017

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TUSC backs Irish MPs' call to Corbyn for an internationalist, anti-austerity Brexit stand

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) today added its support to an appeal to Jeremy Corbyn by socialist members of the Irish parliament (Teachtaí Dála - TDs) to use the Brexit negotiations as an opportunity for an international anti-austerity campaign.

The TDs, members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) group in the Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann), had written to Jeremy Corbyn earlier this year.

They suggested that a proposed European conference hosted by the Labour leader should be used to discuss how to "promote the case for a fundamental recasting of European relationships, encompassing your stated opposition to EU-driven neo-liberalism and austerity and your support for public ownership" (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/396.pdf for the full text).

Last week (February 24th) a meeting to discuss Brexit was addressed by Jeremy Corbyn in London, with invites given to the 'Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats' (S&D group) of European parties. Regrettably, however, the request by the Irish TDs to attend the event was not taken up.

Break with the establishment politicians

In response, the TUSC chairperson and former Labour MP Dave Nellist, a backbench rebel colleague of Jeremy Corbyn in the 1980s, today said that it was "a mistake for Jeremy to line up with the establishment politicians who dominate the so-called European 'Progressive Alliance' at the expense of a dialogue with groups such as the AAA-PBP TDs".

Dave said: "When Jeremy announced the London conference in a speech in Prague last December he correctly said that 'unless progressive parties and movements break with the failed economic and political establishment it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap'.

"He also said that 'too often the left has been seen as the accomplice to reckless, unfettered capitalism rather than a challenge to it'.

"But the reality is that the S&D group, which includes French president Francois Hollande, the German SPD, and the Italian governing party, is the living embodiment of that 'failed political establishment'.

"It was because of the participation of the Irish Labour Party, another S&D group member, in an austerity government coalition that they were reduced from 33 TDs to seven at the 2016 elections, while the AAA-PBP won six TDs. Yet the Irish Labour Party were invited to the London conference and the AAA-PBP TDs were not.

Beat the right with socialist policies

"It is fighting socialist policies that are needed to 'fill the gap' and undercut the far right, not efforts to conciliate with establishment politicians.

"In the same way that Jeremy should not be concerned about alienating the pro-capitalist MPs in the parliamentary Labour Party but should seek support in the trade union, anti-austerity and socialist movements outside, so he should build links in Europe with the real anti-austerity, anti-capitalist fighters.

"This is vital if the Brexit negotiations are not to be dominated by the right, in Britain and in the other EU countries.

"Only young people, workers, and middle class people hit by austerity, have an interest in ensuring that the Brexit negotiations don't give a new impetus to the pro-market, privatisation and anti-worker policies that have shaped the EU treaties.

"To reach them Jeremy needs to more decisively break with the failed establishment politicians, here and in Europe".

TUSC argued for a leave vote in the EU referendum but campaigned completely separately from the reactionary leave groups led by the Tory Brexiteers and UKIP. TUSC stands for real internationalism and opposition to austerity, whether from Brussels or Westminster. For further information about TUSC's principled socialist leave campaign see our post-referendum report, available at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/382.pdf