There’s nothing that the Brussels apparatchiks hate more then a referendum. The result is almost always unfavourable (to them) and the recalcitrant populations have to undergo an intensive course of attitude retraining before being asked to carry on voting until they get it right.

The result of a Greek referendum would surely have followed form. However, there is neither the time nor the money for the EU machine to re-educate the Greeks, so poor old George Papandreou was tortured by sleep deprivation until he abanodned the idea.

This may allow the Merkel-Sarkosy love-in to continue, but Papa George was right; the Greeks should have been given the choice between prolonged hard times with a hard currency, or the chance at regeneration with a devalued one. The “rescue” deal which a referendum would have upset is nothing of the kind. The Greek economy cannot live within the euro. It won’t grow, it won’t become competitive, and however much cash and debt forgiveness it gets now, another crisis would be inevitable.

Devaluation and a squeeze on state spending is the conventional remedy for an economy in the state of Greece’s today. There’s a helpful precedent from exactly 20 years ago, when  a country fell out of a European monetary system after desperate contortions to stay in failed. That country then enjoyed a decade and a half of unparalled prosperity. It’s called the UK.

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