First the dry facts. The Global Financial Centres Index ranks the competitiveness of 119 financial powerhouses of the world.
The 2021 ratings (based on 150 factors) are just in, and London comes in second, marginally behind New York. Yet not a single EU city even makes it into the top 10 – Paris is 11th, Frankfurt 16th, Madrid 18th, Amsterdam 19th. Only eight European cities make it into the top 25, and four of them (London, Zurich, Edinburgh and Geneva) are outside the EU.
Nor is it just finance. London also tops the rankings as Europe’s most technologically advanced city, even though those who have ever travelled on its underground may wonder how that came about.
In absolute terms, such facts have some curiosity value, but not much of any other. They are certainly no grounds for triumphalism, nor even for optimism. The British economy is a long-term basket case, for the bomb of promiscuous public spending and burgeoning sovereign debt is bound to explode sooner rather than later.
The country spends £60 billion a year just to service the existing debt – by way of comparison, our defence spending is a mere £42 billion. Something tells me that the first number will be growing much faster than the second, or indeed any other number in the budget, except perhaps the bottomless pit of the NHS.
This is bad news for it’s after all public spending that is the major contributing factor of inflation. And inflation has the same effect on the economy as Covid has on the stamina to run the London Marathon.
One doesn’t have to boast a degree in economics to know how suicidal this trend is. In fact, such a degree may be an obstacle on the road to even rudimentary understanding of the harsh realities of life.
But relatively speaking, we may not be doing well, but we are still doing better than the EU, and not by a narrow margin. So what kind of effect is this going to have on diehard Remainers, who of necessity have become Rejoiners?
Precious little. If anything, they will redouble their efforts to drag Britain back into that defunct contrivance. For even if facts may sometimes interfere with a good story, they’ll never even leave a dent in a bad ideology – and no good ones exist.
For the founding principles of the EU lie outside reason, and I’m using the word ‘lie’ advisedly. The EU embodies the old socialist ideology of a single world government. However, following Jean Monnet’s prescription, this shining ideal is to be sold to the public in incremental steps, each camouflaged as purely economic.
This ideology is socialist because it calls for a steady increase in the centralisation, size and power of the bureaucratic state. I’d suggest that, once we’ve stripped socialism of its sharing-and-caring waffle, this is an accurate and exhaustive definition of its essence.
The veracity of economic or any other claims made for an ideology doesn’t matter. What matters is the incessant repetition of slogans, mantras and shibboleths, ideally married to the burgeoning ignorance of the population.
Even in theory, anyone with a modicum of intelligence and economic nous will know that any attempt to blend together the political, economic and social interests of dozens of countries can only ever produce an unpalatable concoction.
A single country will always have more flexibility to respond quickly and dynamically to the twists and turns of global economy, and this is something no economic Leviathan will ever be able to achieve. Its arteries are certain to become sclerotic, its joints arthritic, its muscles atrophied.
Economic practice supports the theory. Contrary to the Remainers’ doomsday predictions, Britain hasn’t collapsed after Brexit. Quite the opposite: she has begun to do better, if not spectacularly well.
Britain also responds to geopolitical challenges much better than the EU. Witness our support for the Ukraine’s valiant effort to save Europe from fascism. Again, we may not be doing as much as some (well, I) would like, but there is no denying that our response was instant and resolute, which is more than one can say for the EU.
That Union is anything but united on this issue (and most others), with various countries representing every gradation of response. Scared out of their wits by Russia’s banditry, Sweden and Finland want to be fast-tracked into Nato, a bloc that France regards as an instrument of Anglo-Saxon imperialism.
Germany and France are desperate to force the Ukraine into at least a partial surrender. Poland and the Baltics are straining every sinew trying to help the Ukraine to victory. Hungary is doing her best to sabotage their efforts because its prime minister sees Putin as his role model. Bulgaria, ditto, with an added dimension of her historical links with Russia (which didn’t prevent Bulgaria from being on the other side in both World Wars).
A simulacrum of this discord is clearly visible whenever a crisis arises, and in this world we aren’t blessed with crisis-free politics and economies. So, if the EU is failing both economically and politically, what are its successes? What is it for?
Instead of economic freedom, it has delivered protectionism. Instead of political unity, a hodgepodge of clashing interests. Instead of internationalism, thriving jingoism. The only aspect of the EU that’s going on strong is its ideology, with contradicting facts bouncing off it like arrows off a tank.
This vindicates my belief that no enterprise built on a lie will ever succeed. And every ideology is a lie by definition.