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Disagreement is at the core of democracy. They call it “Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition” for a reason. Even if it’s not always entirely true…
But autocratic organisations like the Soviet Union, Communist China and the European Union require the opposite. They require solidarity, not loyal opposition. The establishment must not be openly questioned. That might expose something too unsavoury (also known as the truth).
I’m sure you’ve noticed over the years that I’m not very good at toeing the line. I didn’t on the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). I didn’t on selling Britain’s gold. I didn’t on joining the euro. I questioned the undemocratic appointment of EU commissioners. I called out the shocking treatment of Greece by the Troika. And dared to back the ignominious “Leave” side in a referendum. Shocking stuff, I know…
Now I was always happy to have a debate with anyone about all this. In fact, I’m happy to debate just about anyone on just about anything, including one entertaining episode with a flat earther.
Why do I believe in disagreement?
Because debate is how we actually get somewhere better, in a civilised way. It tests which ideas stand up to scrutiny, and which don’t. Importantly, it tests those ideas before we learn their flaws the hard way. Accountability in the public sphere can prevent disastrous policies from ever seeing the light of day.
But the institution of the EU could never bear my lack of solidarity. It couldn’t bear being scrutinised. It couldn’t bear its mad policies being questioned. And that’s why the EU marches headfirst into so many disastrous policies. Because nobody dares to question its wisdom.
Now you might think all this is ancient history for Brexit Britain. That we’ve escaped the United States of Europe and no longer have to worry about all the flaws of the EU. But you’d be wrong, especially now.
These last few years, the EU’s sacred solidarity has begun to crack. It can no longer hide from scrutiny.
Next, the EU will come apart at the seams. And that portends something very good for Europeans in the long run, but downright dangerous for investors like us in the medium term.
Let me explain…
The EU’s freeze and thaw process
The “freeze and thaw process” explains how rock can crumble with the force of mere water. Here’s how it works. The water seeps into the tiniest crack in the rock. And when it gets cold enough, the water freezes and expands. This pries apart the rock, ever so slightly each time. The process repeats until, over the years, it can destroy seemingly impregnable cliff faces.
I gave a lot of speeches during my time as an MEP, and before. Each one chipped away at the EU. And each one exposed its flaws ever so slightly more. Of course, I wasn’t the only one! And events soon proved us eurosceptics right.
The ERM crises of the 90s, the European sovereign debt crisis of 2010, the migrant crisis of 2015, forced Greek austerity in 2013, and how the European Commission was appointed in 2019 are just some examples which made people notice just how flawed the EU and its projects are.
Each crisis pried apart the cracks in the EU’s solidarity, just a little further each time. It was enough for Britons to know how to vote in a referendum on the matter in 2016. Just another rejection of the EU and its projects over the years.
But let me tell you, we have reached an entirely new level of trouble for the EU. There’s been nothing quite like the vaccine mess before. Because Brexit does such a good job of exposing the EU’s incompetence.
I believe the vaccine debacle could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It won’t destroy the EU, but it will end solidarity once and for all. And…
Without solidarity, the EU will begin to crumble
When the pandemic began, the European Commission took charge of the vaccination programme in the EU. And appointed an unknown, unqualified and unaccountable Cypriot to lead their efforts.
Meanwhile, Britain escaped and decided to go on its own path by appointing an experienced businesswoman from the private sector. Our decision to go it alone led to an ill-fated resurgence in Project Fear.
Health experts and international legal experts claimed in the Guardian that the UK’s vaccine efforts would be delayed as a result of Brexit. Another expert claimed we’d “probably be towards the back of the queue”. And those are the tamer quotes…
You’ve seen the results plastered all over the news since. And it’s the same inside the EU. “WE BENEIDEN YOU”, the Bild Zeitung wrote. “We are jealous of you,” that means in German.
But I’m not here to remind you of our success. I’m trying to point out that the EU may have suffered a mortal wound. One by one, national governments are abandoning the EU’s vaccine policy.
“Merkel declares war on EU vaccine agreement – Germany to purchase Russian-made Sputnik jab,” reported the Express at the start of April.
The New York Times in March: “Countries eager to augment the troubled E.U. buying program are eyeing offers from each other, from Russia and China, and from private brokers, some of whom are fraudsters.”
At one point, Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz even threatened to veto the EU’s vaccine purchases, but he was told no country could do so. You must show solidarity, even if it costs lives.
I believe this spectacular mess signals the end of the EU’s sacred solidarity. It is a vote of no confidence in the EU itself. And once you begin to question the EU, where do you stop?
My hope, and fear, is that Europeans will begin to question more and more of the EU’s policies in coming years. Until, eventually, they realise that the EU itself is no longer a good thing. That it makes a mess of far more than vaccinations, immigration, austerity and of course the euro.
The pandemic has exposed that the emperor has no clothes
Unfortunately, leaving the EU poses a rather dramatic challenge. What would happen to the euro and the vast debts which nations have incurred under the common currency, for example?
We’re talking about another European sovereign debt crisis. One which would threaten our economy and financial system too.
This time the European sovereign debt crisis might include nations which no longer want to be part of the EU and the euro. They might not want bailouts and European Central Bank rescues which require austerity. They might want to go their own way altogether and default on their euro-denominated debts.
But that’s a story for another day. For now, consider this: the EU is no longer protected by unquestioning solidarity. And it cannot stand up to the rigour of debate and opposition, as the Brexit referendum showed. Europe is waking up, just as we did. It’s just sad that it took a vaccine debacle during a pandemic to expose that the emperor has been naked all along.
Founder, Fortune & Freedom