William Hague has written an article in today’s Telegraph entitled “As Itay has shown, the Euro is a far bigger threat to Europe than Brexit”. To which my reply, even before reading the article, was “No shit, Will”. At the heart of the intellectual case for Brexit was the idea that faced with Britain leaving it, the EU would start to disintegrate. What is fascinating to me is that even though the precise opposite thing has taken place – Brexit has given the remaining EU members something solid to rally around, strengthening the union, at least for the time being – Brexiteers still insist this really is taking place, against all available evidence. The Hague article actually had some sensible things to say about the EU, the single currency and Brexit, but then had to toe the line in the final paragraph:
“None of this, unfortunately, will help the UK with the complex process of negotiating Brexit. The more the EU feels threatened, the less ground it will give. But it shows our departure in its proper perspective – not a one-off event, but as the beginning of a long, slow disintegration.”
The latest political shenanigans in Italy are yet another red herring Eurosceptics are clinging to as proof their faith in the EU’s inevitable disintegration is valid. Guys, it just isn’t happening. Brexit has backfired at least in one very crucial way: it isn’t going to lead to a mass exodus of countries from the EU any time soon. In fact, I think watching how difficult Brexit has been has made most countries much wearier than they would otherwise have been about leaving themselves. Ironically, British Leavers may have been the ultimate saviours of the European Union.
The Italian Euroscepticism that Leavers in this country are clinging to until their fingernails start to bleed needs to be put into perspective. At its most extreme it is about Italy leaving the single currency, not the EU, and definitely, definitely not the single market. And what if Italy did leave the Euro, what would happen then? It would likely be a lot like Brexit: a hideously complex process that leaves Italy poorer and thus acts as a warning for other countries not to leave themselves, no matter what. In other words, Italy leaving the single currency could end up saving the Euro.
The main thing that has always made me worry that Brexit would turn out to be a disaster is how much Leavers had invested in the European Union falling apart. As if they knew the whole thing wouldn’t really work as intended if the EU managed to survive a major nation leaving it. Well, chaps, I think you may need to start seriously thinking about what a UK outside the EU does when a newly revamped EU sits only 22 miles across the channel.