YANIS Varoufakis now thinks Brexit was the right decision for the UK – despite being a reluctant Remainer during the 2016 referendum.
The former Greek finance minister, who was locked into political battle with Brussels for endless months over austerity and a possible ‘Grexit’, has previously said that the UK was wrong to leave the European Union.
However, Varoufakis has now done a U-turn, saying the bloc’s response to the pandemic had nudged him the other side of the referendum divide.
“I was not a supporter of Brexit. What I was saying is that I wouldn’t want to stay in the EU at any cost – and that is a perfectly reasonable position,” he told Freddie Sayers of UnHerd.
“The day after the referendum, I could see the problem were the Remainers, because they were simply anti-democratic, they treated those who voted with the majority with contempt.”
Varoufakis was a known opponent of a second referendum, having written on his website back in 2018: “Besides the gross disrespect to those who voted in favour of Brexit (instructing them to go back to the polling stations to deliver what we think is the ‘right’ verdict), the call for a second referendum is fraught with logical incoherence.”
However, despite his consistent criticism of the bloc, he had backed a remain vote in the EU referendum and insisted Brexit was the wrong decision for the working class of Britain and Europe.
But he told Unherd: “Watching the never-ending fiasco of the last 14 months since the pandemic, looking at the way in which, yet again, our great leaders in Brussels missed the opportunity to do that which would be right by the majority in every country, looking at the vaccine fiasco, the corruption and incompetence of the Commission.
“I’ve changed my mind. I think that Brexit, in the end, when you weigh things up, was probably the right way for Britain.”
Varoufakis also hit out at the lack of democracy within the EU – saying it was not so much a democratic deficit as a vacuum.
He added: “The EU was created unlike the State. States emerged organically as a result of conflicts between different classes.
“The EU was created, like OPEC, as a cartel. It was a cartel of coal and steel, then they introduced the automakers, the electrical goods manufacturers and finally the French farmers in the Treaty of Rome.
“The whole point was to limit competition between those large economic interests – oligopolies – and create a bureaucracy in Brussels that would manage this continental market, on behalf of big business.
“Cartels do splendidly during periods of growth. It’s when they have to share burdens that they split. With the EU, they sailed through very small-scale crises until we hit 2008, then they unleashed a majestic project of suppressing democratic opinion – not just the Greek people, but even governments of the right.”
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However, he also sounded a warning that the splintering of the bloc could spill over into Britain.
“It’s a question of minimising human cost for the majority of Europeans,” he said.
“Whether you are a Brexiteer or a Remainer, you should not want the EU to fragment or decompose, because Britain is going to suffer immensely.
“If the Euro breaks down, what will it mean for Britain?”
Naturally, Varoufakis is still somewhat in a minority on the left for his stark opposition to the EU, despite its glaring flaws.
However, a coalition with leave-voting politicians on the right is still unlikely due to their focus on reducing migration, he said.
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