The end of the European union is near as the political and financial situation within the Union is on the brink of collapse.
Roger Bootle believes Italy is edging closer to the EU exit door and France’s impending election could see Marine Le Pen surging to power, raising serious questions about how the Brussels bloc could continue to exist.
The “existential threats” Italy and France pose to the Eurozone mean Britain should be preparing for the end of the European Union early to ensure as little turmoil as possible, warns the managing director of Capital Economics.
Mr Bootle poured scorn on the continental club, pointing out that for all the talk of hard and soft Brexit, the European Union may well not exist within a few years anyway.
Matteo Renzi’s resignation as Italy’s Prime Minister after a crushing constitutional reform referendum defeat make it more likely Italy will leave the Euro.
France’s electorate also faces the choice between a Thatcherite candidate in François Fillon and a far right nationalist in Marine Le Pen.
The economic expert is tipping Le Pen to claim victory and, if so, it is expected that France will follow Britain out of the European door, simultaneously leaving the Eurozone.
If this happens, Mr Bootle claims there will be no point in Jean-Claude Juncker’s political bloc remaining in existence.
He told the Telegraph: “It is possible that Italy will stumble on within the euro and muddle through its current political impasse. After all, that is what Italy usually does.
“But my view is that she is more likely to leave the euro within the next year or two. The boost that this would give to Italian competitiveness would see Italian GDP recover and this would prompt other southern countries to leave.
“Before long, the euro would be in tatters. Could the EU itself survive the collapse of its greatest project, along with the consequent recriminations and financial wranglings between Germany and the southern members? I doubt it.
“Yet Italy is not the only existential threat to the EU. The selection of the supposedly Thatcherite François Fillon as the Right’s candidate in next year’s French Presidential election has increased the chances of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen winning next May.
“A dose of Thatcherism may well be exactly what the French economy needs. But is it exactly what the French electorate will vote for? Even if Italy clings on inside the euro, if Marine Le Pen becomes President of France, then it is probably curtains for the EU.”
Mr Bootle asserts it is a myth that countries cannot leave the Euro, pointing to the fact Capital Economics’ winning submission for the Wolfson prize in 2012 showed how it could be done and the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, offered to facilitate Greece’s smooth exit from the Euro.
Britain should prepare for the eventual European collapse, said Mr Bootle, to make sure the break up is not as “dangerous as it could be”.
The 64-year-old added: “With Britain having taken the lead in voting for Brexit, and given the prior British rejection of both the euro and Schengen, we would be in a strong position to take a leading role in thinking about, and building, such a structure [without the EU].
“You might well say that it is too early to be thinking about this. But if you are going to prepare for an eventuality you can only do it early.”