Notes from the front of 18-07-17
Labour is right to oppose European withdrawal bill
The Tory Government has published its Bill for withdrawal from the European Union and the Labour leadership is right to oppose it.
The Bill contains three main elements. It rescinds the European Communities Act which allowed the UK to join what was then the Common Market in 1973. It then transposes all EU law passed over the subsequent period which governs the UK. Thirdly, and most importantly, it then allows Ministers to act on their ow authority to change those laws, without any reference to parliament.
Britain has already one of the most undemocratic parliamentary systems in the world. Without a written constitution there is little effective constraint on any parliament, so much so that a previous Tory Lord Chancellor called it an ‘elective dictatorship’.
The Tory leaders of last year’s leave campaign want to free up their big business supporters from the legal responsibilities required by the EU. Theresa May has since adopted the position that the UK must not come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for the same reason (although all alternatives to EU membership will have to involve some form of supranational jurisdiction, such as the World Trade Organisation).
The absence of any checks in the UK system, beyond the arcane and unelected House of Lords, is also providing practical difficulties in current negotiations. The EU understands that no UK parliament can bind its successors to a law or treaty, it can simply overturn it by a majority vote. Therefore the EU is insisting on external guarantors for any deal agreed on the reciprocal rights of EU citizens in the UK and for UK citizens in the EU, which means the ECJ or another body. This is the very first item on the EU-UK agenda of the Brexit negotiations under discussion this week in Brussels.
Labour is right to oppose any Bill which revives so-called ‘Henry VIII’ clauses, effectively giving ministers the powers of medieval monarch to change the law. The elected Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are also effectively excluded by the Bill.
The justified fear is that the Tories will use their powers over time to drive down workers’ rights and conditions, environmental standards and consumer rights. British business organisation have revived their call for the minimum wage to be capped to ‘pay for Brexit’. Labour is right to oppose it.
On 12 July Brazillian Judge Sérgio Moro convicted Workers Party (PT) leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of corruption and he was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison.
Lula’s lawyers have drawn attention to the judicial process being politically motivated, with no credible evidence of guilt produced and proof of his innocence ignored. Thousands have protested in São Paulo against Lula’s conviction.
Lula has been leading most opinion polls and Brazil’s business owners, with US support, are determined to stop him from being elected President in 2018. If the ruling is upheld by a higher court then Lula will be unable to stand in next year’s elections.
The aim of those prosecuting Lula is to consolidate last year’s removal of the PT’s Dilma Rousseff from the presidency. That parliamentary coup impeached Rousseff, despite the fact that she was not even accused of corruption, but of presenting government accounts in an unapproved way.
The coup plotters then installed the current, right-wing, unelected president Michel Temer, who has imposed austerity policies, causing his approval ratings to collapse, whilst he is increasingly embroiled in serious corruption scandals.
The right wing took advantage of the fall in popularity of the PT that accompanied Brazil’s severe recession through 2015/16. They are now trying to reverse many of the gains made by working people over the 13 years the PT held the presidency.
The struggle, between those who want to consolidate the coup and supporters of the PT will continue, as both sides have huge mass support.
To show your opposition to the coup and support for Lula sign here.