The Greek farce continues its record-breaking run. After 43 last ditches, 28 eleventh hours and 17 late-night drinking sessions in the Last Chance Saloon, the comedians in Brussels and Athens are rehearsing their latest routine.
The joke, of course, is on the taxpayers of Europe. For Grexit remains a remote contingency, at least for as long as the politicians can contain the situation by throwing other people’s money at a problem they manufactured. If the markets explode, that would be another matter. Barring meltdown in the markets, Brussels – which in this context is also an alias for Berlin – simply will not permit Greece to leave the Eurozone.
The Greeks could be reduced to eating their own children but still the Eurocrats would cling feverishly to the colony they have impoverished. Brussels knows only one law: ever-closer integration. If Greece departed the Eurozone, that would represent disintegration and that must not happen at any price. Once the Eurozone contracts, even by the loss of one country out of 19, the whole European project will be in retreat.
Brussels is adamant: what we have we hold. Hence the recent brinkmanship, followed within hours by a wholly predictable volte-face, as EU leaders suddenly discovered enormous merit in the latest cynical, wholly inadequate proposals from the Tsipras regime, the ultimate upholders of the doctrine of the free lunch. What are these revolutionary proposals from Athens that have so enthused those who, hours before, were supposedly about to eject Greece from the euro?
Tax hikes on businesses (the markets will love that), some juggling with pensions in the run-up to 2025, a hike in VAT that will also hit businesses and an end to VAT exemptions for the islands that generate the tourist trade, Greece’s last remaining viable industry. It is a socialist blueprint for stifling enterprise and of doubtful relevance in a country where paying tax is regarded as a personal eccentricity.
The pensions package represents just 0.4 per cent of GDP in 2015, whereas the Troika asked for 1 per cent. Altogether the plan amounts to €7.3bn in fiscal measures. To put that in perspective, it is worth recalling that the ECB shovelled €3bn into the furnace that is the Greek banking system last weekend alone. Since Greece already has a backlog of €76bn in unpaid taxes, any tax hike on paper is purely academic and hardly merits Eurocrats dancing in the streets of Brussels.
But it is well worth the Greeks’ time to play along with the EU charade. What the Brussels hoods are, in effect, saying to Tsipras and his merry men is: for God’s sake, lads, cut us some slack; cobble together some cosmetic deal to justify our throwing more money at you and keeping you in the euro.
If Tsipras can contrive to do that, there is a good time coming: Jean-Claude Juncker has pledged that if a deal is struck the European Commission will pump a further €35bn of “investment” into Greece. €35bn in, for €7.9bn out, sounds like a good deal, from a Greek Trot’s point of view, if not from a European taxpayer’s. Greece already owes €323bn of debt from past “investment”, so what the hell? Since this is “investment” cash from the European Commission and not Eurozone bailout funding, British taxpayers will have the privilege of contributing.
Which brings us to the crunch point. If the infatuated integrationists of Brussels will go to such extreme lengths, draining the European Central Bank and destabilising the European and wider economy, for the petty purpose of keeping basket-case, parasitic Greece within the Eurozone, how desperate would they become if there was the slightest prospect of Britain leaving the EU altogether?
Britain is a net contributor to the EU, a nuclear power with a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, an economy with a growth rate over the past year of 2.4 per cent compared with 1 per cent in the Eurozone. Are we seriously expected to believe that Eurocrats who are willing to break the back of the European economy just to keep Greece within the euro currency would view Britain’s departure from the whole kit-and-kaboodle European Union with equanimity?
In reality, as distinct from the illusion imposed on us by politicians and the media, we are not supplicants going cap-in-hand to Brussels to beg for a brief delay before unstoppable migrants need be granted benefits – we are in a position ruthlessly to pull the plug on the whole European project. The European Union could not survive the departure of Britain. The mere threat – if it were credible – would cause pantechnicons to deliver emergency supplies of brown trousers and bicycle clips to the back doors of the thieves’ kitchens in Brussels and Strasbourg.
But there is no such threat, for one simple reason: our politicians are all complicit with Brussels. Dave’s re-negotiations are a charade whereby he asks for peanuts and will be given only a small proportion of what he requests. The Eurohoods know that Dave is “one of us”. Like all our politicians, across the consensus, he is a politically correct Europhile. He would never allow Britain to leave the EU. There is no prospect of the swarming migrants – 185,000 in the past three months – being halted. The gates are guarded by traitors.
Yet if Britain had representative leaders, honest media and real political will we could successfully demand any concessions – including full treaty change – from the ducking and weaving economic illiterates who devised the doomed Euro currency. If we held their feet to the fire they would squeal for mercy. That, along with the benefits of Brexit, is what we must bring home to our fellow citizens between now and the referendum.