I used to be a card-carrying Europhile.
I had travelled the world declaring myself a Londoner, British and European as Europhiles still like to boast today.
Maybe I didn’t want to see my political views morphing.
However, almost imperceptively, they were.
For years and with growing distaste, I observed how EU leaders were becoming more remote from their citizens, exemplified in the perfunctory way they brushed aside referendum and election results that were inconvenient to ‘the European project’.
Studying economics gave me another shove in the direction of what came to be known as Brexit.
Once you understand the basics you realise how utterly bonkers the Euro is. No sane person would have created it because it was obvious it wouldn’t work. Plenty did warn about it but were brushed aside. Again they were inconvenient to ‘the project’. Like any ideology true believers rarely want things like facts to get in the way.
This all came to a head with the Eurozone crisis.
The ‘facts’ of the crisis are well known. It was a standard morality tale as told by the North. The South had run up debts it could not repay which required the frugal well-run Northern members to come in and sort it out.
However the most important facts concerned dysfunctional governance across much of the south, lying bankers and politicians at all levels, misaligned currency exchange rates, differing real interest rates and a wall of money from northern countries’ trade surpluses searching for a yield.
You can see why the morality tale is so convenient. Everyone understands greed. However what I saw was democracy and millions of people lives being stamped on daily.
I watched expert after expert use the technical term ‘internal devaluation’ as the solution to the South’s problems. This is the simple, cruel idea that to make a country competitive you need to bring down wages and remove social protections.
It is exactly what the EU did in Spain, Greece, Portugal and even Ireland.
The way the EU stamped down on democracy when it got in the way of ‘the project’ and the damn currency was, if anything, worse.
I watched two democratically elected heads of state forced out of office by the European Central Bank (ECB), an election in Greece ignored and both Ireland and Greece forced via the barrel of an EU-created banking crisis to take bailouts which their grandchildren would have to pay back. Elected politicians and governments were put to the sword for daring to argue.
There are no words to fully describe the terrible treatment meted out by the EU to people they are meant to care for.
Perhaps the saddest part is the way so many people still parrot back the same old morality tale, such is the power of this simple story. The facts are there but people don’t want to see them. That would challenge their new religion. And that is discomforting. I guess I can understand that.
As for the EU, it got to keep its currency and project a while longer and, well, if people had to suffer then so be it. But for me it was the beginning of the end of my support.