This article was originally published on The Commentator
The European continent is in crisis. Many old and proud nation states are teetering on the edge of economic collapse and are threatened with the rise of political extremism from both sides of the spectrum. Britain is not in a position to prevent their coming troubles – we can only ensure we are not caught up in the ensuing chaos.
Over the past 6 years, our news screens have been filled with the plight of Greece, but it’s not Greece we should worry about. Greece’s economy is small. Its collapse and the subsequent default on its debt would be painful, but manageable. This is not true for other ticking time bomb economies in the EU.
Conventional wisdom says when a country’s debt reaches 100% of the value of its economy, it becomes highly likely it will default on its debt in the future. This is the stage France and Spain are about to reach, with Italy having broken this particular barrier a long time ago. Their total combined debt is around $7 trillion, or just under 3 times the value of the UK economy. Nearly half the Italian government’s debt is due to be paid in the next 2 years. This is simply not going to happen. At some point in the future at least one of these countries is likely to default on its debts, or require a bailout in order to prevent it. In all likelihood, it could well be two or even all three of them. This is a debt crisis over ten times larger than Greece’s, and Britain was forced to pay £billions to Greece with little hope of ever seeing those £billions again.
If we vote to Remain in the European Union, Britain will be forced to stump up £billions to contribute to these bailouts. This is not money Britain has stored away in the bank. This would mean we would have to borrow from global financial markets, burdening our children and grandchildren with the legacy of French and Italian financial mismanagement. The only alternative would be even more austerity forced on the Great British Public in order to save France from its own inefficiencies. This is not something we would have to accept if we are outside the European Union.
Even more worryingly than the coming debt crisis in these countries, is the complete lack of political will to deal with or prepare for the inevitable troubles. Spain’s most recent general election has produced an inconclusive result. Normally this would not be an issue, as a coalition government would be formed. However, opinions on how to deal with government debt range from completely ignoring its existence, to some of the most hard-line austerity in Europe. Needless to say, Spain has so far been unable to form a government and they have now called another general election, in an attempt to solve the deadlock. Current polling suggests little will change in the political makeup of the Spanish Parliament – and Spain will remain ungovernable.
It’s clear Spain’s current governance woes look like bliss compared to the situation in France, who, despite having a government with a working majority, are increasingly unable to govern their own country! France now resembles Britain in the 1970’s, with wave after wave of strikes crippling the country and political violence becoming commonplace. To remain in an ever deepening political union, where two of its largest members are in complete political meltdown, is a huge risk to take.
When politics fails we see the rise of the extremes – Podemos in Spain and the Front National in France. Do we really want to let the European far left and right have influence over British laws? As this is what a Remain vote increasingly looks like before we even mention the rise of the far left and right in other smaller EU countries such as Austria, Hungary and Portugal.
France, Italy and Spain are all on the verge of economic collapse. When it finally happens and their quality of life drops significantly they are highly likely to emigrate to another, richer EU country. For these countries, the only other richer EU states of any size are Britain and Germany. Net migration into the UK is already over 333,000. This would surge if France, Italy or Spain suffered an economic collapse. The strain on public services would be immense. Even if in the long term this would be economically beneficial, in the short term this would exacerbate an existing infrastructure crisis of a lack of housing, school places and hospital beds. After a Leave vote we would be able to control the numbers who come here. This would allow Britain to gain the benefits of these potentially skilled French, Italian and Spanish citizens, whilst protecting our already strained infrastructure and public services.
Europe is collapsing. The weight of debt and political instability is driving many of its largest countries to its knees. In Britain we are now faced with a choice – to go down with the EU ship, or take the lifeboat offered to us on June 23rd. If we remain, we will be forced to hand over increasingly large sums of money to bail out these failing economies, as well as dealing with rising EU political extremism and potentially even higher levels of migration. The choice is clear. To escape a political union which is heading deeper in to crisis we must vote to Get Britain Out on June 23rd.