Last week, the deficit on our Government's annual spending widened yet again, to £143 billion. We cannot avoid a reckoning for ever, warns Christopher Booker.
At last the penny seems to be dropping that the chaos mounting over Greece's problems with the euro is by far the most serious crisis that the great European "project" has ever faced.
As their sad, bewildered faces show whenever they appear on our screens, the EU's leaders have nowhere to turn. They cannot afford to allow Greece to fall out of their beloved euro, which might trigger an international currency crisis, the consequences of which no one can calculate. On the other hand, they cannot afford to continue pouring tens of billions of euros, which will never be repaid, into a basket-case economy. They – and we – are impaled on an impossible hook.
One of the few sources of pleasure in this mess has been to witness the discomfiture of our own homegrown euro-zealots who, a decade or more ago, were obsessively urging Britain to join the lemmings as they set off for that ultimately inevitable cliff. There was no cheerleader louder than the BBC's Today programme, which back in the late 1990s was almost daily wheeling on the likes of Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten and Leon Brittan to argue, unchallenged, that Britain was doomed unless we signed up.
Last week, in a ghostly, forlorn echo of those times, Lord Brittan was interviewed on Today by Evan Davis, himself once a stalwart cheerleader for the cause. A reader has sent me the transcript of a programme from 2003 in which Davis was trumpeting how happy the Greeks were, after years of inflation with the drachma, to be part of a currency which was "stable" and "quite secure". (read more)