The 'out of Europe' lobby deploys its trustiest weapon

The biggest gaffe made by Britain's pro-Europeans is being exploited by the 'out of Europe' lobby, reports Emily Hohler.

Britain has enjoyed a "narrow escape", says Allister Heath in The Daily Telegraph. The "economic catastrophe" unfolding in Greece demonstrates the painful consequencesof getting rid of a national currencyonly too clearly. Only countries that control their own currency can "create more of it to cushion downturns".

Had we not been able to "print ourselves out of trouble" after the financial crash, the recession would have been far worse and we would have faced a "Greek-style default". The UK's best economic decision of the past 20 years was a "negative one": not to join the eurozone when we were being pressurised to do so by "vast swathes of the UK and international establishment".

That the pressure was resisted the UK was granted an opt-out clause in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 was thanks to the "good sense of the British public and the efforts of a tiny number of anti-euro campaigners and the Tory opposition" of which Ed Balls, then a 25-year-old Financial Times journalist, was one, adds Janan Ganesh in the FT.

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Back then, only a few "even entertained what is increasingly obvious": that monetary union without fiscal union doesn't work. Yet even now Britain's pro-Europeans fail to show any humility. Given the approaching referendum on European Union (EU) membership, it would be in their best interests to do so.

A "mea culpa" would help voters to separate the euro and the EU in their minds, and destroy the "Out" campaign's "trustiest weapon": the arrogance of pro-Europeans. But the main motivation should be moral. The euro has "impoverished" countries on the periphery of Europe. Greek youth unemployment stands at 52%. Spanish unemployment is around 24%. Extremists have prospered and a "poison has seeped into relations between capitals".

The facts on the ground, in Greece and elsewhere, favour Prime Minister David Cameron's renegotiation, says John Rentoul inThe Independent. The Germans and the Dutch have no desire to provide further bailouts to Greece. The defeat of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Social Democratic prime minister, by an alliance of parties led by the anti-EU People's Party last week, means there will be "another EU government that supports Cameron's renegotiation". It also represents a shift in EU opinion on that "once-sacred" tenet: the free movement of workers. The Danish People's Party campaigned on an anti-immigration platform.

The crisis gives Cameron "unexpected leverage", agrees Trevor Kavanagh inThe Sun. Brussels now needs Britain more than we need it. Our European neighbours are eyeing our "startling success" and wondering if "we might vote to leave their fantasy world of ever-closer union". The price for staying in should be "new rules on immigration, an end to dictatorial powers over human rights" and "a clear separation between euro and non-euro states". The Brussels elite will resist, but Cameron "must not let good manners stand in his way".

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.