Europe was nowhere near ready for the euro when it was introduced in 1999 and the sovereign debt crisis has proven critics of a one-size-fits-all monetary policy right, London mayor Boris Johson wrote in an opinion piece for UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
Johnson lashed out at “all those snooty Europhile politicians and journalists who sneered at us for our doubts”, saying they should “be forced to crawl in penitence to Dublin Castle, scourging themselves with copies of the Maastricht Treaty.” That treaty led to the creation of the euro.
The conservative politician, who was working in Brussels as a reporter for the newspaper when the birth of the single currency was under discussion, said he had had one major reservation about the proposals.
“The continent was — and still is – a collection of different languages, diverging labor market traditions, and individual approaches to deficits and inflation …What was right for Germany might turn out to be wrong for, say, Italy or Ireland,” he said.
"Their relative profligacy would be masked; they could trade on German thrift, and free-ride like egrets perched on the shoulder of a hippopotamus, until disaster struck; and that is exactly what happened."
Johnson said he and other skeptics had feared countries might exploit the low interest rates to spend more than they should, in the knowledge that they could still keep inflation low and avoid any penalty from the markets.
“Their relative profligacy would be masked; they could trade on German thrift, and free-ride like egrets perched on the shoulder of a hippopotamus, until disaster struck; and that is exactly what happened,” he said.
“So it gives me a tingling pleasure to report that everywhere you look on the map of Europe we have been proved resoundingly and crushingly right,” the flamboyant mayor added.
He said he now deserved an apology and had been vindicated.
“Whenever we protested about any detail of the plan for monetary union, we were told that we were in danger of stopping the great European train, boat, bus, bicycle or whatever it was. We were a blimpish embarrassment to our country, a bunch of idiot children who had to be shooshed while the grown-ups got on with their magnificent plans,” Johnson said.