Monday, 11 September 2017

Greek Tragedy 2.0



A hundred and fifty five years ago, the Greeks chose the second son of Queen Victoria to replace their recently deposed king. Alas for any dreams Alfred may have had for a lifetime of sunshine and mousakka, Vicky had other plans. Alf did not get to swap Buckingham Palace for Athens, having instead to settle for being the Duke of Edinburgh. The world is a funny place though. The Greeks’ second choice was grandfather to a young boy, Philip, who would one day trade Athens for Buckingham Palace. He’s still there, serving as the Duke of Edinburgh. The whole episode was part of a great game of European alliances, treaty and politics.

The game continues, and the Greeks and Brits share a new common thread in the 21st century world of Europolitik. Populist movements in both countries promised their electorates the world with wild and implausible promises and, perhaps to their own surprise, suddenly found themselves in power. Charged by the people to deliver undeliverable manifestos. The Greeks faced a tight fiscal deadline to produce the goods and end austerity with improved ‘bailout’ terms. They relied on a policy of blackmailing the EU into giving preferential terms, else they’d commit economic hara kiri. It transpired that the EU is simply not open to blackmail, and that the Greeks were welcome to do as they saw fit. They saw fit to toe the EU line. If the nation could be fed on Humble Pie, their problems would have been solved.

Brexit is failing for many of the same reasons. Which will collapse first, Brexit negotiations or the government, is a tough call. A second referendum is more likely by the day. Even if you choose to overlook the lies told in the run up to the referendum, the increasingly apparent involvement of Russia in social media and the general ignorance of the voting public, it will soon not be possible to overlook the most glaring problem that Brexit faces. The Brexiters cannot deliver on their promises. They can’t get anything that even slightly resembles them. They are headed for catastrophe. The Remain side, and the UK’s economy and social fabric have just one obstacle stopping us from exiting Brexit. Time.