Brexit: Desperation grows

David Davis now Brexist minister Britain taking control of our borders
David Davis, now Brexit minister: Britain 'taking control of our borders'.

On 17 January, Prime Minister Theresa May finally announced the government’s plan for taking Britain out of the European Union. It amounted to a fantasy vision of a ‘truly global’ and independent Britain. Having confirmed that Britain would leave the Single Market, May has been left to plead for tariff-free access to it from an EU that responded by saying a new trade deal ‘necessarily must be inferior to membership’. The contradictions thrown up by Brexit have put Britain and the EU on an inevitable collision course and both sides are likely to suffer dire economic consequences from the fallout. Barnaby Philips reports.

May set out the parameters for the exit plan in a televised speech that will come back to haunt her. Compelled by the split in the Conservative Party and the desire to placate the majority of its members, she confirmed Britain would ‘take back control of our borders’ by ending the free movement of EU labour. That was a red line for the EU which meant the Single Market would always have to be sacrificed, something the usurped pro-EU wing of the party still refuses to accept. Unsurprisingly, given her brutal record on deportations as Home Secretary, May has given no unilateral guarantee that EU nationals settled in the UK will be allowed to stay.

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Trump in power - Imperialist rivalries, trade wars and the threat of armed conflict

Donald Trump trade war

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 17 January 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping warned that ‘no one will emerge as a winner from a trade war’. He was responding to the then President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to impose a 45% tariff on US imports from China and a 35% ‘border tax’ on Mexico’s exports to the US. Trump’s declaration of ‘America First’ signals a willingness to wreck the post-Second World War economic order imposed by a dominant US imperialism, and to unleash inter-imperialist rivalries not seen since the economic devastation of the 1930s, through which marched the forces that led to world war. Trevor Rayne reports.

‘But what the hell? I’ll wing it and things will work out.’ – Trump

In his inaugural address on 20 January President Trump said, ‘Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.’ Three days later Trump withdrew the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and said he intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, signed in 1993. One Chinese economics professor said before the Davos summit, ‘The US is declining and China is rising. China will defend the international system as the US, under Trump, goes in the opposite direction.’ A section of the US ruling class believes that by turning to protectionism it can reverse the relative economic decline of the US in the world. This will not happen nor will manufacturing jobs return to an imperialist US. However, the US and China are the world’s two biggest economies and increasing tensions between them means peril: economically and militarily.

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Brexit, Trump and the populist right

Brexist - Trump

20 years ago ‘globalisation’ was the latest fashionable term to describe the all-pervasive forces of a rampant capitalism. It was said to be a new stage of capitalism in which multinational companies and financial institutions, attached to no particular nation state, moved their capital around the world in search of the highest returns, and in so doing created a truly global market and global capital. At the time FRFI explained that, far from being new, globalisation was a return to those unstable features of capitalism which characterised imperialism before the First World War. It had begun to recreate the very conditions which produced those dramatic shocks to the international capitalist system that led to the revolutionary developments in the first decades of the 20th century. It reflected a deep crisis of the capitalist system that would soon lead the most powerful capitalist countries into a renewed struggle over world markets and global spheres of interest, into brutal wars in less developed parts of the world, into a new process to redivide the world according to economic power.1

Until the late 2000s, Martin Wolf, chief economic commentator at the Financial Times, was an enthusiastic advocate of neo-liberal globalisation. In 2002, the deepening crisis of the capitalist system forced him to raise the question whether the global expansion of capitalism had come to a halt and was about to be reversed. Will the second era of global capitalist integration, he asked, end like the first, which went into reverse between 1914 and 1945, after inter-imperialist rivalries led to war and socialist revolution in Russia? Wolf’s answer was no. Conditions he assured us were very different this time.2 Today, 14 years on, he is no longer convinced.

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MSF and Pfizer: no such thing as a ‘free vaccine’


On 11 November 2016, US multinational Pfizer agreed to lower the price of its pneumonia vaccine to $9.30 per child for all humanitarian organisations ‘working in emergency settings’. Although short of the $5 per child Médecins sans Frontières’s (MSF) campaign A Fair Shot has been demanding for seven years, it is a significant reduction compared to the $204.30 per child MSF paid to vaccinate refugee children in Greece earlier this year. Pfizer’s capitulation followed a principled rejection by MSF of one million ‘free vaccines’ it was offered by Pfizer in October 2016. As Jason Cone, the US Executive Director of MSF explained in an open letter to Pfizer: ‘there’s no such thing as “free” vaccines’. Earlier, in September, British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) also agreed to lower the price of its pneumonia vaccine for humanitarian organisations to $9 per child. We salute MSF on this campaign milestone, but the generosity of Big Pharma is transient and its monopolistic, exploitative and criminal actions must be exposed and opposed. Charles Chinweizu reports.

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NATO: planning to win a nuclear war

The US and British military are planning for war with Russia, and the US Army has commissioned a report entitled ‘War with China: thinking through the unthinkable’. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the US must prepare for ‘a return to great power competition’ with a ‘high end enemy’, meaning Russia and China, ‘we must have – and be seen to have – the ability to impose unacceptable costs on an advanced aggressor that will either dissuade them from taking provocative action or make them deeply regret it if they do’. A NATO Review 2016 article calls for ‘increased inclusion of nuclear-capable aircraft in future NATO military exercises’ to sow doubt in Russian minds about when NATO might order a nuclear attack to counter any Russian breakthrough on NATO’s eastern front.

The British government has increased troop deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. The US has stationed missile defence systems in Poland and Romania and advanced stealth fighters in Germany. The intention is to make Russia a defenceless target.

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