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by UnHerd
Wednesday, 29
April 2020

Yanis Varoufakis on Covid-19, Brexit and the trouble with Keir Starmer

Freddie Sayers speaks to the former Greek finance minister
by UnHerd

On day 37 of lockdown, former Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis joined Freddie Sayers to discuss his late conversion to Brexit, the collapsing Left-Right distinction, and the politics of Covid 19. Have a watch above (apologies for the patchy quality – stick with it, it gets better and better!)…

On Brexit:

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  • While he disagreed with Brexit at the time, the whole second referendum campaign was insulting to Brexit voters and explains Labour’s defeat.
  • Whereas Dominic Cummings deployed racism “like a weapon” during the Brexit campaign, he does not believe that Brexit voters were racist.

On the failures of the global Left:

  • Sanders, Corbyn and Varoufakis himself were defeated because they were undermined by their own political parties.
  • Rejects the idea that the Left should embrace harder line immigration policies like the Danish Social Democrats — he would rather lose every election for the rest of his life than be a Danish Social Democrat.
  • The Left are doomed to failure because they keep fighting with each other.

On Greece’s response to Covid-19:

  • Credits the Greek Conservative government for taking swift measures (faster than the UK Government).
  • The Greek economy is uniquely dependent on tourism and the devastation will be crippling.
  • Number one priority is harm minimisation, but there is already skulduggery going on where American financiers are being protected in bailouts over poor people in Greece. He would like to lead protests across Greece at the Government’s ‘shielding of the oligarchy’.

On Keir Starmer:

  • He was on wrong side of the second referendum argument, which was “highly disrespectful” to half of the population.
  • He is likely to technically win the arguments against Johnson in parliament but no-one will notice in the electorate.

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3 years ago

We chose Brexit – for all the wrong reasons – racist, basically.

How is Greece coping with being part of the EU? and how is the EU now being supported by the EU – Greece has been abandoned.

He says that it would be nonsense that there would be a windfall for the NHS for the UK not being in the UK – erm, actually, there would – through not paying billions a year to the EU – doh! If we don’t pay our 12 billion fees to the EU we can pay that money to the NHS – that’s for any under 12 year olds reading this. Sorry for the sarcasm, but the left don’t seem to be able to grasp simple facts.

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
3 years ago

So we are all racist and xenophobic whilst Yannis will never be anywhere near power again, but he can stay “pure” to his ideology.
Clearly he doesn’t understand democracy or the nation state. Nor does he really understand the problems within the EU so suggesting we should have stayed in to “sort things” out is a bit pointless when you haven’t articulated what these “things” are. But of course, the solution is always socialism. Silly man.

And no thanks, the Greek way of life won’t work in the UK. There’s a significant difference between certain European countries (like Germany, the Netherlands and yes, the UK) who still have a tradition of the Protestant work ethic and those that follow a different tradition of work ethic (like Greece (tourism only, eh?) and Spain). Which, by the way is one of those “things”.
Well done for interviewing this man with such professionalism Freddie.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Varoufakis is moderately entertaining as always, but all over the place. How could he ever have suggested that the UK could have ‘reformed’ the EU from within after his experience of the way they treated Greece?

The stitch up between the Greek government and hedge funds concerning the mortgages appears to be a disgrace, but is pretty much standard for governments everywhere.

3 years ago

As always, entertaining and thought provoking.
During the last 10 years I’ve spent about 50% of my time in Greece and made an enormous number of Greek friends. (I’ve got a small boat and am retired having worked my way from Poole round Gibraltar, since 2000).
But any stage comedian can be entertaining and thought-provoking…
There is, in my reading, an essential flaw in the political perceptions btween N Europe (where Brits firmly belong) and the Mediterranean littoral (where the Greeks belong). And that is in the transfer of wealth. The Northeners don’t mind a small transfer of wealth down S and the Southerners see the whole reason behind the EU to be a levelling off in wealth.
That’s probably underlying why the Brits voted to leave – not just the emotive fallacy of racism.

colin hay
colin hay
3 years ago

Entertaining, interesting and thought provoking.
Great to hear a very different perspective on EU, Brexit etc.
A most interesting point about the new Labour leader – technical arguments and the popular vote – lets see.

3 years ago

The European sovereign debt crisis which manifested itself post GFC has led to something of a ‘lost decade’ for some areas of the eurozone, notably the peripheral or southern states. There has been no real recovery in many of these European countries, and it should be a concern that with the current economic storm, many countries will be forced to reckon with continuing stagnation.
The UK government seems determined to continue with its plan for EU exit at the end of the year. This will act as something of a ‘red letter day’ for many other EU countries for whom the current EU economic and monetary model seems not to be working; that is to say, it could represent the ‘last, best opportunity’ for countries to semi-coordinate a reappraisal of their EU commitments.