In late February, when Jeremy Corbyn announced in the Islington Tribune that the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was aiding the Labour party in ‘some capacity’, the mood within the press office at Conservative HQ was jubilant. The idea of Comrade McDonnell being aided by the man, seen by many, as the man who poured petrol on the inextinguishable fire that was the Greek debt crisis concluded with a mildly amusing pop-culture quip from the Prime Minister describing Labour’s economy policy as ‘Acropolis Now’. Varoufakis, who held the post of finance minister for seven months over the period of January to September 2015 voted against the third financial bailout package along with a significant minority of incumbent Syriza MPs; a package which was passed through the Greek parliament by the remainder of Syriza MPs along with the Conservative opposition who backed leader Alexis Tsipras’ decision to accept the terms of the final bailout.
A moral duty to stay in Europe, fight for it and democratize it
It would not exactly be a stretch to say that Varoufakis and Cameron are divergent figures on the political spectrum, a fact most evident from their economic standpoints. The latter has supported wide-ranging public sector cuts during his premiership in a determined challenge to cut the national current account deficit, whilst the former fought tooth and nail, albeit unsuccessfully, against the dogmatic austerity blanket that has characterized the central institutions of the European Union since the global financial crisis took its toll on the Eurozone, promptly suffocating Greece in the process. Yet, Varoufakis’ argument for Britain remaining in the European Union has emerged as a more coherent and compelling account than anything that David Cameron and his aides have managed to put into the wider UK media.
In October of last year, Varoufakis speaking at a Guardian live event, after comparing the European Union to a sausage, stating ‘if you know what was in it, you wouldn’t touch it’ also had a serious and powerful message to the British public. He stated that his message was simple yet rich: ‘’those of us who detest the authoritarianism of a technocracy which is incompetent and contemptuous of democracy, those of us who are most critical of Europe have a moral duty to stay in Europe, fight for it and democratize it’’. Is that not the concise and emotive message that David Cameron has been trying to convey to the British public but has so far failed miserably in doing so?
Only nation large enough and critical enough of the current European project to fundamentally transform it from the inside
The Prime Minister’s two most significant interventions during the campaign have been on the whole rather counter-productive. His first contribution, a propaganda gift to the ‘Leave’ campaign in the form of a fantastically one-sided leaflet delivered through the letterbox of every household in the United Kingdom was not only verging on desperate but also a categorical waste of taxpayer’s money. The second and most recent contribution was the suggestion that Brexit would in turn put the ‘Peace of Europe’ in jeopardy and the reemergence of combative nationalism has raised eyebrows. It would be fair to say that the United Kingdom’s exit of the European Union would certainly provide impetus to the nations in the East of the European Union to follow suit. Governments in Poland and Hungary, since the financial crisis, have channeled public dissatisfaction in Brussel’s direction but to suggest that the core founders of the Union would ‘be at each other’s throats’ is but a fallacy.
Cameron should take into account the choice words of Varoufakis if only to regain a sense of purpose and drive for the campaign. Varoufakis, is a man whose openly overt and sometimes confrontational demeanor towards the press and senior diplomatic figures has often preceded the substance of his argument, consequently undermining his oft-valid contributions to the dry world of international relations.
The United Kingdom, unlike Greece is a strong, core European nation and the only nation large enough and critical enough of the current European project to fundamentally transform it from the inside; addressing both the oft-cited but nevertheless pertinent democratic deficit and ensuring the prevention of the creeping prospect of federalism. The United Kingdom currently has the best of both worlds in its relationship with the Union, being outside of the single currency yet being firmly inside the single market and it is nigh time that David Cameron and the remain campaign begun to broadcast this to the populous more effectively prior to June 23rd.