As the Brexit white paper staggered its way through the House of Commons, the crisis in the Tory party has just deepened and deepened.
The attempt at compromise at Chequers lasted less than a week. Tory grandees, like Chris Patten on Newsnight, say they have never seen the party in such crisis.
Still Theresa May has managed to scrape along, despite resignations and open warfare around her between the right-wing Brexiteers and the Remain-in-all-but-namers.
A third front is led by former education minister Justine Greening, who has openly declared that Parliament is unable to decide and so there should be a second referendum, in which she will campaign for remain.
To add to the turmoil, the chief whip, Julian Smith, now faces a clamour of calls to resign after it emerged that he had instructed MPs to disregard the parliamentary ‘pairing’ convention in order to save the government’s neck in knife-edge Brexit votes.
This included encouraging Brandon Lewis, who is paired with the Lib-Dem MP, to vote regardless of the fact that his ‘partner’ has a new-born baby.
One might think that a better solution would be a general election, to sweep this rotten lot aside!
Of course that is exactly the threat they use against each other – leading Brexiteers threatened that if the remainers/all-but-remainers defeated the government on the vote on a customs union, there would be a vote of no confidence and a general election – and then the risk of a Corbyn government.
But the crisis is such that some Tories are now voicing an alternative solution to the risks attached to a general election: a national ‘unity’ government.
Anna Soubry stated on radio 4 that the problem is that ‘extremists’ are in control in both main parties and the only solution therefore would be to appoint a government of national unity.
This would mostly comprise the pro-remain Osbornite wing of the Tories and the pro-remain Blairite wing of the Labour party, though she floated the idea of the SNP and Plaid Cymru as well.
A national government would not in fact be in the interests of the whole ‘nation’, it would be in the interests of big business, the vast majority of whom want to see Britain remain in the EU.
Political and economic crisis
In a fragile world economy still burdened with debt and facing trade wars, big business want as much stability as possible in which they can maximise their profits with the least barriers, and continue to force the working class to pay for economic crisis through low pay and austerity. For them, this is a political crisis of historic proportions.
In reality the only path to solving this crisis in the interests of the vast majority is through a mass determined fight by the labour and trade union movement.
Now is the time for Jeremy Corbyn to seize the moment. Instead of allowing right wing capitalist representatives on all sides to frame the debate, a bold argument for a workers’ Brexit and a general election to achieve it could cut through the chaos like a scythe.
At the same time, the Blairites in the Labour Party need to be ousted. The necessity of this is underlined by the fact that the right-wing in his own party is acting daily to undermine the possibility of this bold lead happening.
Pro-capitalist Labour Brexiteers such as Frank Field and Kate Hoey have voted to save the Tories this week.
And like clockwork, as soon as the Tory crisis flares the Blairites pick up the anti-Semitism weapon again.
Instead of sensible discussion a furore is raised about the new code of conduct on anti-Semitism (once again proving that it is an illusion for those around Corbyn to think they can mollify their opponents).
In extraordinary scenes, Labour Dame Margaret Hodge shouted publicly at Corbyn in the Commons, calling him an racist and anti-Semite, just a day after John Woodcock resigned, claiming the Corbynites were out to get him and the party had been taken over by the ‘hard left’.
Behind the scenes, the pro-capitalist pro-remainer Blairites, prepare the ground for the possibility of a new ‘centre’ party.
Anything to save capitalism from a Corbyn government. Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve has also warned of a break up of the current party system if there is no deal.
It is imperative that Labour and trade union leaders act to drive the Tories out and to fight tooth and nail for the programme that inspired millions of people last year and still could again if it was energetically promoted.
We need a mass struggle against the Tories and the Blairites for a government that can implement the 2017 manifesto and more – jobs on proper contracts, pay rises, council homes, rent control, £10 minimum wage and free education.
Stop universal credit. Save the NHS from cuts and privatisation. Renationalise rail, water and energy.
Take the banks and big companies into democratic public ownership so that the enormous wealth in society can be used for the benefit of all. A socialist, internationalist, anti-racist Brexit in the interest of all workers. General election now!