National Post

Thatcher warned of euro devastation
National Post

Today, Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography, published in 1993, reads like a prophecy. It shows how deeply and with what extraordinary wisdom she had examined Mr. Delors’ proposals for the single currency. Her overriding objection was not ill-considered or xenophobic, as subsequent critics have repeatedly claimed.

They were economic. Right back in 1990, Mrs. Thatcher foresaw with painful clarity the devastation it was bound to cause. Her autobiography records how she warned John Major, her euro-friendly chancellor of the exchequer, that the single currency could not accommodate both industrial powerhouses such as Germany and smaller countries such as Greece. Germany, forecast Mrs. Thatcher, would be phobic about inflation, while the euro would prove fatal to the poorer countries because it would « devastate their inefficient economies ».

It is as if, all those years ago, the prime minister possessed a crystal ball that enabled her to foresee the catastrophic events of the past year or so in Ireland, Greece and Portugal. Indeed, it is one of the tragedies of European history that the world chose not to believe her. President Mitterrand of France and chancellor Kohl of Germany dismissed her words of caution. And when Mrs. Thatcher was driven from office in 1990, a crucial voice was lost, and a new consensus started to form in Britain in favour of the euro.