May stumbles on

Theresa May has narrowly scraped through a vote of no confidence brought by her own MPs. Now pressure from below is needed to bring her government down.

May Must Go demonstration, 10 June 2017. Photo: Steve Eason

Theresa May has survived again – just. Since the beginning of her General Election campaign in April 2017, Theresa May has suffered humiliation after humiliation, both self-inflicted and inflicted by fellow Tories. A third of her MPs want her out, and a majority of those without government jobs. But so far neither her own party nor the Labour opposition have quite managed to bring her down.

May’s team were clearly not convinced they would win this time. The Tory whip was reinstated for two MPs previously suspended due to accusations of sexual harassment. May had to promise that she will not fight a 2022 General Election. She is still stuck with the task of getting a Brexit deal through parliament, with the DUP demanding ‘fundamental legal text changes’, and the EU refusing to budge.

While the internal Tory crisis rumbles on, the rest of us desperately need to see the back of this government. In the words of the recent UN report, almost a decade of Tory austerity has led to levels of child poverty that are, ‘not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster’. The implementation of Universal Credit is damaging, ‘clamaints’ mental health, finances, and work prospects’, and swinging cuts to council funding are ‘damaging the fabric’ of British society.

The Tories have brought the NHS to its knees, undermined workers’ rights and have overseen years of falling real wages. Just as scientists are warning that we have a rapidly closing window to respond to catastrophic climate change, the Tories are giving the green light to airport expansion and fracking.

When Theresa May finally does go, she deserves to be remembered with particular odium for her relentless ramping up of state racism. First as Home Secretary, and then as Prime Minister, she has persecuted migrants, Muslims and ethnic minorities with the Hostile Environment and the Prevent agenda. She sent racist vans touring the country, expanded charging of migrants for NHS care, put in place the policies that led to the Windrush scandal and has tried to turn all of us into informants on the people we live and work with. It would have been a small poetic justice if May had been forced out in the week that the Stansted 15 were convicted.

The Tories cannot agree on Brexit, but in any of the scenarios that involve them remaining in government will mean further attacks on freedom of movement, workers’ rights, working class living standards and further pursuit of the policies leading us to climate chaos.

We need pressure from below to force the Tories out of government, and we need  an alternative to austerity, racism and environmental destruction. Aside from Brexit, there are signs of coming turmoil in the global economy. We cannot allow any government to make excuses for continued austerity and repression. Figures arguing on either side of Labour’s internal debate over Brexit take for granted the need for more immigration controls. We must overturn this assumption. We cannot afford to be bystanders.

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