David Cameron was in Brussels the other day for a meeting of EU leaders. He was quoted as saying this:
“When I first came here as prime minister five years ago, Britain and Greece were virtually in the same boat, we had similar sized budget deficits. The reason we are in a different position is we took long-term difficult decisions and we had all of the hard work and effort of the British people. I am determined we do not go backwards.”
As whoppers go, this is Shapps-esque. If only Greece had had a #longtermeconomicplan, all would be rosy now. The sun would be starting to shine once more. To say this is ‘misleading’, doesn’t really begin to cover it. Greece is a member of the Eurozone. We are not. When the crisis hit Greece, its options were much more limited than ours, and ot was forced into accepting a bailout. The conditions attached to this bailout included austerity several orders of magnitude greater than we have seen here. The on Greece’s economy are quite nicely subsidised in this infographic (found here):
So for Cameron to claim the difference between the two countries today is the ‘tough decisions’ taken by his Government is kind of insulting to both the Greek people and to the intelligence of all of us.
The real reason why the UK is in a lot better shape is firstly because we are not in the Euro and as a consequence of this did not need to go down the fiscal austerity road. Greece did go down that road in a big way, and the results are plain to see. It’s maybe to Cameron’s credit that the Government eased off on the cuts after 2012 (while still needlessly clobbering to poorest), but to admit that would be to admit everything they’ve said in the past five years has been a lie.