Extinguishing Democracy in Land Where it Began

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Greek protesters threw stones and firebombs at riot police who responded with tear gas in Athens as clashes erupted on the sidelines of a protest against new austerity cuts

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

By Christopher Booker

Greece’s plight has alerted the world to the way the EU extinguishes democracy.

It is peculiarly appropriate that the country that gave the world the words “democracy” and “tragedy” should now be the beacon which alerts the world to the fact that the EU is extinguishing democracy – part of a wider tragedy that will eventually lead to the extinction of the EU itself. But what of our own country’s part in this horrible drama?

It already seems an age since we were told, last June, that David Cameron had “won his fight” to prevent the EU extracting a loan of billions of pounds from Britain to help Greece pay off some of the colossal debt it has run up since it was so foolishly allowed to join the euro. The next move, we learned, was that we would have to lend the money anyway, not through the EU but through the IMF.

George Osborne still cannot promise that he will be able to resist this demand, even though he knows we are having to borrow an additional £2.5 billion every week just to pay for the ever-rising deficit on our own Government’s spending. Thus, in order to lend £17 billion through the IMF to Greece, which it will never be able to repay, we would have to borrow even more money than we are doing already.

The latest contribution to this tragi-farce, it seems, is Sir Mervyn King’s decision to roll the printing presses and conjure a further £50 billion of imaginary money out of thin air. As Fraser Nelson explained in Friday’s Daily Telegraph, this will keep interest rates on annuities at rock-bottom, and thus rob Britain’s pensioners of an estimated £74 billion.

So our pensioners’ money will be disappearing into a bottomless pit of debt, not least to help save the euro, which the EU cannot allow Greece to leave, because this might set off a domino effect, bringing down in turn all those other eurozone countries that have run up debts they cannot repay, and plunging Europe’s and the world’s economy into unimaginable chaos.

There were those of us who long ago came to see that the dream of building a politically united Europe had all the makings of a tragedy doomed eventually to end very badly, and to carry what remained of European democracy with it. But I confess that not even in our worst nightmares did we foresee that it would end quite like this. And even now the end game has hardly begun.

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