Brexit is the fearless crowd realising the emperors in Brussels stand naked
Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30
Fairy tales are told to children as cautionary warnings, wisdom being passed from generation to generation so the future can avoid the mistakes of the past. My favourite has always been 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.
In it, two wily weavers promise the emperor they will make him a new suit of clothes from a rare, exquisite cloth that is invisible to all those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent.
Obviously, as the emperor later parades his new suit of clothes nobody wants to be the one to admit that they can't see the clothes for fear of being condemned.
It takes a child unconcerned with position or pretence to shout from the crowd that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, nor has he been all along. While the crowd soon joins in and eventually begins to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, the emperor marches on in splendid arrogance.
The EU started off as a utopian dream, a desperate notion by its founding weavers that Europe could be re-clad in a new suit of one nation, shorn of the warm, well-worn cloth of individual nationalities, sovereignties and most vitally, its democracies.
These wily weavers convinced the emperors across Europe that they could be re-fashioned in a new protected form of sartorial uniqueness, away from the stupid peasants and their incompetent voting.
Our emperors eagerly cast off their warm sovereignties, their itchy democracies and even their eccentric currencies in favour of the weavers' hidden bureaucracy, indiscernible accountability and the illusory golden thread of their ethereal currency.
And so we stood together, staring into the mirror, ever closer and united in the suspicion that we were wearing less and less with every sleight of hand the weavers wove in mid-air; but they, of course, were oohing and aahing as we twirled to model their latest vision. Any dissenting murmur was quickly dispelled with the reminder that those who couldn't see how magnificent we had all become were unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent.
And then the child spoke.
The euro banking system collapsed under the weight of the global credit crunch as the absence of a banking union, an interest rate policy Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (PIIGS) would have needed, a central regulator, or the back stop that a currency's lender of last resort was required to have was finally exposed.
The euro was revealed to be what disobedient critics had warned it was all along - a political currency born of the weavers' invisible cloth, not an economic one based on sound money and an economic oversight beyond the implicit trust that Teutonic prudence would be infectious. It wasn't.
The Frankfurt-based ECB had no problem allowing a political currency when its existence made German exports artificially cheaper.
But once the hyper-inflated credit bubble exploded and left bits of the PIIGS scattered across Europe, the Eurocrats' affection for one currency with the implicit debt-sharing that required faded and the oinks were thrown to the loan-sharks.
Greece is a zombie country awaiting a final stake to the heart; Portugal, Italy and Spain are in a state of suspended animation and Ireland is a tale of two economies, an FDI headline grabber and a domestic economy still over-indebted and paralysed by a zero-rate of inflation for the last four years.
Meanwhile, Schengen has imploded. The EU's open-borders policy was another creation of the founding weavers and its naivety in the face of the biggest refugee crisis in the continent's history further exposed the delicate, bloated underbelly of the political folly at the heart of the project. Once its naked hopelessness was overwhelmed, and several countries with it, the borders soon shot back up as the reality dawned on national governments that the 'Brussels Project' was about as useful as reciting a verse of 'Kumbaya'.
As they all reeled in the economic and migrant blizzard, countries reached for their old sovereignties, democracies and currencies.
But they were long gone to the weavers in Brussels who were aghast they would even seek to retrieve a modicum of their former warmth.
We stood naked while they told us all we had to do was believe harder, entrusting more power and gold to them and all would be well.
The true EU believers are now retreating closer and closer to Brussels. The Mediterranean is considered to be a lost cause by our exasperated weaver-masters, the former Eastern bloc a rebellious hinterland of Polish government intransigents and Hungarian government irritants.
As for the Dutch - who recently had the temerity to decide in a referendum that the Eurocrats shouldn't be interfering in the Ukraine - well, it's just all getting to be a bit much for the various unelected EU 'presidents' who beaver in the Berlaymont.
And what of the UK? Brexit represents the thing that the weavers are most terrified of. Brexit is not another child shouting from the crowd that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.
Brexit is the crowd itself, finally realising what the children have been shouting for some time. It's the crowd losing its fear of losing face or position, of being condemned as stupid or ostracised as incompetent.
The EU should return to being what we all wanted it to be - a single market of sovereign democratic nations, trading for our mutual benefit. The utopian fantasy of political and fiscal union with sovereignties and democracies discarded as unnecessary affectations should itself be discarded before it further hurts an already wounded continent.
I'd like to think Brexit will act as a realisation amongst the Eurocratic weavers that their ruse is up.
But I suspect that they, like the emperor in the folk tale, simply cannot hear what they don't want to hear and that they will parade onwards, naked and arrogant, to their Ever Closer Oblivion.
The question for Ireland is will we still be holding up their invisible cloak tails at that time, or will we be laughing and pointing at them with the rest of the awoken crowd?
Keith Redmond is a councillor for Fingal County Council