May isn't laughable – she's a dangerous market fundamentalist

4 March 2018

May isn't laughable – she's a dangerous market fundamentalist

Inside the Brussels bubble, British Prime minister Theresa May is generally ridiculed. That's why I seldom put much faith in Brussels' analyses. That goes also for the speech which May gave on 2nd March on the new 'economic partnership' that she wants to forge with the EU. This wasn't a ridiculous speech at all, if you read through it, but a demonstration of how market fundamentalists like the Tories always in the end favour the market over the interests of working people. However much she claims the opposite, she always backs the 10%, while the 90% can go hang. This can be seen particularly in her plans for virtually free movement of services. As a result, British workers will be faced with unfair competition on the labour market.

The majority in the United Kingdom voted for Brexit in last year's referendum, not because of traditional British patriotic pride, but principally because they were concerned about exploitation on the labour market, which is in part a result of a large influx of eastern European workers. Inequality in the UK is enormous, with the richest 10% owning, according to official figures, 45% of all property, as opposed to 33% in the Netherlands. The other 90% have to make do with the remaining 55%. The poorest 20% own no property at all, while the poorer 50%, half of the entire British population, just 8.7%. Many people hoped that Brexit would lead to improvements for them, not only by reducing competition on the labour market from other member states, but also via a more social set of policies, something May had promised at the start of her period of office, a commitment she repeated in her speech.

May's deception was that she wanted to put an end to the free movement of workers, without admitting that it is via the free movement of services that exploitation takes place. A 'service' is a vague expression, but the 'self-employed' people who work in the building trade or in the hotel and catering sector, or for notorious organisations such as Uber and Deliveroo are all 'service providers'. The firm that establishes itself in the UK and takes its employees with it as detached workers also falls under free movement of services rules. May said in her speech, in so many words, that she wants to leave all of these service providers free to enter. The exploitation of the bogus 'self-employed' can therefore simply continue, which is extremely bad news for the 90%. Competition on the labour market will remain as it is, while Brexit won't improve the country economic prospects one jot. If May is going to conclude comparable trade agreements with other countries, such as India, exploitation on the labour market could become even greater.

The only conclusion you can draw is that people such as May, but also our own PM Mark Rutte who in his speech in Berlin delivered on the same day as May's, 2nd March, presented the free movement of services as a great benefit, are so in slave to market think, that they are blind to the real concerns of ordinary men and women, of the 90%. That's dangerous, but it also presents us with opportunities. The SP can cut through their stories, not by making them ridiculous but by showing how hypocritical they are. If you want above all to help the 90%, then you have to address the free movement of services. Only then will we be able to tackle exploitation on the labour market – and get rid of the breeding ground of the extreme right.

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