In the mid-1990s people in Holland complained that the smell from their farms was becoming unbearable. They appealed to the EU for a remedy. The EU responded with a directive: farmers would send sachets of slurry to sniffing teams in Brussels to guarantee that the smell was within acceptable limits. “In this way the EU became the first body in history to legislate for the harmonisation of bullshit.” I am indebted to Professor Alan Sked who shared this gem in a speech at the London School of Economics on 8 June.
But it wasn’t just an overabundance of facile technocracy that caused me and more than 17 million other people to vote for an exit visa out of the EU. Sovereignty played a part. Uncontrolled immigration played a part. And economics played a big part, too. With the deteriorating prospects for large parts of the eurozone banking system (notably most Italian banks but also Deutsche Bank itself, a perennial rumour-mill of presumed insolvency), I didn’t want the UK to be at the head of the queue in bailing out yet more dysfunctional financial businesses.
But the systemic malfunctioning of the eurozone isn’t just manifest in the unemployment numbers, the economic migrants or the share prices of eurozone banks. The entire project is falling apart at the seams.
A swelling tide of denial
The philosopher John Gray has written well about the tide of denial that continues to swell amongst Remainers: “Those who think the vote can be overturned or ignored are telling us more about their own state of mind than developments in the real world. Like bedraggled courtiers fleeing Versailles after the French Revolution, they are unable to process the reversal that has occurred. Locked in a psychology of despair, anger and denial, they cannot help believing there will be a restoration of an order they believed was unshakeable.”
Brexit will almost certainly end up as the most significant political event of our lifetimes. Millennials were quick to treat it as a disaster. The reality is that their generation is mourning the loss of a fantasy project that never really existed – one that creates jobs for young people rather than destroying them.
John Gray again: “The interaction of a dysfunctional single currency and destructive austerity policies with the financial crisis has left most of Europe economically stagnant and parts of it blighted with unemployment on a scale unknown since the Thirties. At the same time European institutions have been paralysed by the migrant crisis. Floundering under the weight of problems it cannot solve or that it has itself created, the EU has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it lacks the capacity for effective action and is incapable of reform.”
Having staked their reputations on the complacent groupthink of Remain, and lost, the forces of the Establishment are now talking down Britain’s prospects. As I see it, the United Kingdom is now free to carve out the role it deserves to have. There is no shortage of countries that now wish to trade with us. I have never been as positive for our prospects as I am today. Remain lost the war. Better by far that they come to terms with the peace as quickly as possible.
• Tim Price is manager of the VT Price Value Portfolio and editor of the London Investment Alert and The Price Report.