EVEN die-hard Remainers will have winced last week as squabbling EU chiefs hailed their latest scam to save the euro as a “victory”.
Indeed, there was little for anyone — even Brexiteers — to cheer as leaders condemned the fabled Grand Project to a slow and painful death.
Their 750billion-euro Covid bailout is both too big for the half-dozen states who will actually foot the bill and too small for the basket-case Club Med members clinging to its teat.
We Brits may have saved ourselves a £55billion slice of the bill by getting out in time, but nobody stands to gain if this runaway train begins to blow.
Far from marking the final stage of the drive towards a United States of Europe, this makeshift fudge will only stir anti-EU sentiment among all 27 member states.
How, for instance, do the Irish feel, after decades on the receiving end of EU funding, about becoming one of its largest contributors?
Ireland, saved by the UK from ruin during the 2008 banking crisis, must fork out 16billion euros (£14.5billion) to EU neighbours, some better off than themselves.
Pat Flanagan, of the Irish Daily Mirror, wonders if Brussels is having a laugh at Dublin’s expense.
“We give 16billion euros and we get 1.5billion euros back and us already the most indebted country in the developed world,” he writes.
“Is this some kind of Irish joke? No wonder the other EU leaders were wearing masks last weekend. This was daylight robbery.
“This means Ireland, with less than five million souls, will be the fifth-biggest single contributor to the new fund.
“Don’t it make you proud this little state is up there with Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden?”
If the Irish feel burned, what lessons will be absorbed by canny Scots, as Nicola Sturgeon stokes her relentless campaign for independence?
The Covid-19 crisis has triggered fears in Westminster about the survival of the United Kingdom, with polls showing a surge for a go-it-alone Scotland.
But if push comes to shove, will Scots — with no viable currency of their own — really wave goodbye to the Pound in exchange for a stricken euro?
Will they sacrifice the £2,000 per head they receive from the Treasury each year and rely instead on collapsing North Sea oil revenues?
If anything has become clear since we voted to leave the EU four years ago, it is that there is nothing grand about Europe’s Grand Project.
No “European identity”, no feeling of patriotism, no com-mon language.
Nobody flies the EU flag as they do the Stars And Stripes in the US.
Only Germany and, to a lesser extent, the Dutch and Scandinavians rank as viable players on the world economic stage.
Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal — the so-called “Olive Belt” — are wonderful holiday hot spots but Covid has terrifyingly revealed their dependence on the tourist quid. Even France — allegedly the joint powerhouse along with Germany — is running on fumes.
This is no smug assertion of superiority. Britain is in trouble, too. We can’t escape the risk of recession, even with our currency free to float on troubled waters.
But it is a criticism of the EU’s rigidly blinkered attitude to reality — its stubborn failure to adapt to a fast-changing world.
Its leaders, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, missed their last chance of holding the European Union together when they let Britain leave.
Along with other Euro-sceptics, I might have voted Remain if David Cameron had returned from his final show-down in Brussels with some-thing more than a poke in the eye.
Last week, EU leaders revealed they have learned nothing from Brexit.
Stupidly, they cast the sensible Dutch as “new British troublemakers”, threw caution to the wind, cobbled together a botched bailout and paved the way for perpetual wrangles over cash.
In passing, they also signed the death warrant of the European dream . . . and demonstrated for all to see there is no one in charge of this clattering gravy train.
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