Why the Eurozone crisis matters for Britain – my Mirror article

British holidaymakers going out to Greece, Spain or France this summer could be forgiven for thinking it is business as usual. But what happens in Europe over the coming days and weeks could have a huge impact on Mirror readers – and it’s not just about how few euros you get to the pound these days.

If the Greek economy collapses, problems will spread to other countries like Italy and Spain and then Britain will be in serious trouble too.

Why is this? First, half of our trade is with other countries in the European Union. So if the Eurozone is plunged back into recession then tens of thousands of British jobs – potentially into the hundreds of thousands – would be at risk too.

And second, our banks have lent billions of pounds to countries now facing real problems. If banks in other parts of Europe go down, we could see a repeat of the big banking crisis of three years ago.

So the Eurozone crisis really matters for Britain. And that’s why I’m so worried that David Cameron and George Osborne have been burying their heads in the sand.

In the last few weeks they’ve been dangerously distracted by trying to salvage their own reputations over the hacking scandal and the hiring of Andy Coulson. But the truth is that over the last year – not just the last few weeks – they have not shown the leadership our country needs.

They’ve not been at the crucial meetings. They’ve not been saying that austerity isn’t working for countries like Greece and that they need jobs and growth to get their borrowing down. And they’ve not been pushing for a long-term solution, rather than more sticking plasters that just put off the problem to another day.

To make matters worse, we are in a weak position to deal with the fallout if things now go wrong in Europe. Our economy has not grown at all in the last six months. George Osborne’s VAT rise – costing families £450 this year – and cuts which go too far and too fast have seen last year’s recovery stall, hitting families hard and costing jobs.

Of course this is ultimately a crisis for the Eurozone countries to sort out. They will have to foot the bulk of the bill. And thank goodness Britain made the right decision to keep the pound and not join the single currency – as I and many others argued at the time.

But that does not mean we should be sitting on our hands and hoping the problem will go away. For Britain’s sake, we need a long-term deal that works – and some leadership from our Prime Minister and Chancellor.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • email
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • Twitter
Posted July 22nd, 2011 by Ed