A blog on social / public issues and cultural life in Catalonia, Spain and wider Europe.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
“The EU declared war and Theresa May played along” -- Yanis Varoufakis
[Photo: Barcelona, 9 Nov. 2017,ALBERT GARCIA]
"In 2016, shortly before the EU referendum, Yanis Varoufakis warned that the UK was destined for a “Hotel California Brexit”: it could check out but it could never leave. The former Greek finance minister spoke from experience. In 2015, his efforts to end austerity – “fiscal waterboarding” – were thwarted by the EU (a struggle recorded in his memoir Adults in the Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment).
Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal confirmed Varoufakis’s prophecy: the UK would be condemned to purgatory.
With fortuitous timing, on the evening that May’s agreement was published, Varoufakis delivered an Oxford Union lecture on Europe’s future. [He] wryly remarked that Conservative cabinet ministers praised his analysis in private.
“The UK should never have entered the negotiations,” he told me when we met afterwards. “You do not negotiate with the EU because the EU does not negotiate with you. It sends a bureaucrat, in this case it was Mr Barnier…they could have sent an android, or an algorithm.”
May’s fatal error, Varoufakis said, was to accept a two-phase negotiation: a divorce agreement followed by a new trade deal. “This was a declaration of war because Barnier said: ‘You will give us everything we want: money, people, Ireland. And only then will we discuss what you want.’ Well, that isn’t a negotiation, that’s a travesty. And Theresa May agreed to play along.”