Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
30 January 2020
The decision of the people of Britain to leave the European Union on the 31st of January has for the last three years thrown the British and Irish establishments into disarray.
The EU Commission and the corporate forces it serves have also been thrown into a state of confusion, despite their media spin and their offensive against the people who voted to leave and, in particular, the working class. What the EU fears most is that Britain leaving may well be a significant turning-point and mark the beginning of the end of the EU itself.
But Britain leaving the EU is only the first step in what will be a more intense struggle within Britain itself about where to go next. The deep economic, social and cultural malaise will not be resolved by simply leaving the EU, though leaving certainly creates the basis for a more democratic means to have the will of the people expressed.
The essential question regarding both Britain leaving and the very future of the EU itself is the fundamental principle of democracy and sovereignty. The EU is fundamentally anti-democratic. It opposes the idea of sovereignty of any state or people. Its legal and constitutional imperative is to protect and advance the interests of the “market.” All other questions are secondary to this primary function.
This central contradiction between the imperative of the EU to defend and advance the interests of big corporations and the desire and the needs of peoples within the member-states to have the capacity to change economic and social policies and priorities which is denied them by the EU treaties, will only grow.
The left in Ireland, as in the EU member-states, can become the champions of national democracy and sovereignty; if not, the right wing will continue to grow and attempt to mask its pseudo-opposition to the EU in racism and reaction, leaving the existing anti-democratic power structures of the EU intact.
With Britain leaving, the triple economic and political dependence (EU, United States, and Britain) that the Irish ruling elite have constructed can only come under increasing strain, with possible huge consequences for working people. A century ago the prevailing conditions led our people to push further beyond the demand for “home rule” and move to a more advanced position of demanding a sovereign, independent Irish Republic, which, over the course of that century, the Irish establishment has failed to deliver on.
With the British state leaving the EU, we must not allow the British-EU economic border to become another barrier, a reinforcing division among our people. Any economic border between the British state and the EU federal state must be down the Irish Sea. This is the challenge that faces democratic opinion in Ireland today.