Sean Connery’s character in the 2000 Gus Van Sant coming of age flick ‘Finding Forrester’ said that he read ‘The Times’ for dinner and ‘The National Enquirer’ for dessert.
I chuckled when I saw that the first time round because for decades on end, the Financial Times has been my lunch break and the Wall Street Journal my dessert.
As Mr Rupert Murdoch, publisher of the US business newspaper, deemed it was no longer financially viable to run a European version of his journal, I have been left with reading the FT in tiny detail.
And thus today, hoping to keep Mr Simon Kuper’s excellent daily World Cup analysis till the last, I started with the editorial pages as I often do. Only this time round, I almost squirted my afternoon tea seeing the warning blaring out at me. Mr Philip Stephens, the FT’s political analyst, was keen to write: “Beware a nationalist Germany,” in an editorial aimed at explaining the dangers for Ms Merkel in this weekend’s upcoming EU summit on asylum.
As an avid lover of all things history, I believe the last time I saw nationalist and Germany in the same title sentence was in the previous century, more specifically when reading up about the great depression, the Weimar Republic and the rise of a short vegetarian gentleman.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Europe should beware a nationalist Germany: <br>Cheering populists elsewhere should be careful what they wish for <a href="https://t.co/NbbaGuagfx">https://t.co/NbbaGuagfx</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/FinancialTimes?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@financialtimes</a></p>— Karim Emile Bitar (@karimbitar) <a href="https://twitter.com/karimbitar/status/1010045208858374145?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 22, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Mr Stephens pointed out that Germany, which is facing a grave political crisis over Ms Merkel’s asylum policies that could derail her own governing coalition, would most certainly lean further right if it were to face new elections.
This, combined with the results of elections in the Visograd countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic), Austria (Mr Sebastian Kurz) and Italy (where Mr Salvini is the de facto leader) could mean that the whole of Europe swings right.
This is where I believe Mr Stephens should stand corrected, for he seems to have missed out the past year where all European elections were won by the right. In fact, except for Greece (far-left Syriza), Portugal and Spain (minority government of far-left Podemos and the socialist of Mr Sanchez), I think that the whole of the ‘old continent’ is now governed by the right.
In Scandinavia, nationalist parties are either topping the polls or influencing policy, the UK clearly chose against immigration by voting for Brexit, the low countries Netherlands and Belgium have liberal governments backed by rightwing populist parties, the Eastern European Visograd countries carefully listen to what Poland and Hungary want to do, France’s biggest opposition party is Ms Le Pen whilst the socialists are wiped out, Italy is governed by Populists…. Need I continue?
Mr Stephens, clearly instructed by what I would call the EU Deep State, warns all he can to business leaders in Europe who are the keen readers of his fine newspaper to avoid any form of European nationalism in their countries, but he tends to forget that when they look out over their respective factory floors, they are well aware the European population has already decided on this.