By John Longworth
‘Merkel Declares Propaganda War at Davos
‘True to her East German, Stazi era roots, Frau Merkel is wielding all of her Prussian influence in Davos. She can no doubt see her third time lucky (or is it fifth time if we include the Austrian/Prussian and Franco/Prussian conflagrations) strategy for European domination slipping away, as Brexit slips through the fingers of her iron grip on the Brussels bureaucracy and the EU.
‘Lest we forget, Germany was by far the greatest beneficiary of the post Second World War settlement and of the establishment of the European Project. It was Germany that avoided the post war de industrialisation and fragmentation favoured initially by the US State Department, instead benefitting hugely from the retention of its state of the art, Nazi machinery and machine tools, retained by German industry after the war which should otherwise have gone to Britain and to a lesser extent France, in war reparations. It was Germany that benefitted from the largesse of the Marshal Plan investment, while by contrast Britain struggled to pay to the US its war debts. It was Germany that benefitted from the very large defence spending of Britain and the US for decades during the Cold War, while thus protected, it built its industrial base.
‘When Monnet and Schuman (both French) dreamt of containing Germany within the coal and steel union, the vestigial European Project, it must have seemed like more mana from heaven to the pre unification Germans, the French thought they had their hands on the steering wheel, but have since found that they are not driving a Peugeot but instead a BMW from the back seat. The poor French. Plus ca change! It was Churchill who said in those fateful days of May 1940 that once a nation capitulates, it never recovers. Nations that fight on, even if they lose, recover and rise again.
‘Not only has Germany benefitted from all this, but the Fatherland has also had the two course, “free lunch” of the Single Market and the Eurozone.
‘The first provided tariff free access to other markets for manufactured goods while protecting the home market from the incursion of services (which make up 90% of the UK economy), for there is no single market in services to speak of. The compensation for French support being a protectionist tariff zone, the Customs Union, for agriculture and food.
‘At the same time the Eurozone has afforded itself an artificially low currency to Germany, even greater than they previously enjoyed when they provided a US sponsored bulwark against communism. The net consequence is a huge trade surplus in favour of Germany with the UK and a now impoverished, indebted and subservient club med: Greece, Italy, Spain. This latter would have been the fate of Britain had we been locked in the Eurozone at the time of the banking crisis. Once again we slipped through their fingers in the nick of time, no thanks to the big corporate dog the CBI. Of course, there is a Eurozone banking crisis yet to come and Germany wishes to socialise the bad debt as widely as possible, including to the UK.
‘Tiresome as it is we are now witnessing again, at Davos, Merkel’s coterie of multi-national apologists condemning Brexit in the narrow interests of Germany and the European Project. Who are those most vocal? Those multi nationals owned by Germans, or/and run by Germans, or/and based in Germany: Airbus, Bentley, BMW-Mini, Seimens (recently awarded a gong no less for services to the establishment), Ford Europe (based in Cologne) etc. There are notable exceptions: Irish owned or run organisations and those with major French influence (Nissan), or even British examples who are dependent on government contracts or whose CEO/Chairman is awaiting a gong. Never underestimate the power of patronage!
‘By contrast, a recent statement, supported by over 250 British, business owners, calls for a no deal Brexit on the 29th March. Naturally, they are not at the Davos jamboree, as they are far too busy actually running businesses to seek to undermine the democratic process of other countries.
‘John Longworth is an entrepreneur, Co Chairman of Leave means Leave and is on the Advisory Board of a Economists for Free Trade and the IEA. He was formerly Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce.