‘The Greek people,’ the Financial Times leading article said on Monday, ‘would be well advised to listen closely to the words of Ms Merkel. The plebiscite will be a vote for the euro or the drachma, no less.’ It is interesting how menacing powerful ‘moderate’ institutions can become when popular feeling challenges them. In the eurozone theology to which the FT subscribes, its statement above cannot be true. It is not possible (see last week’s Notes) for a member state to leave the euro, any more than it is for Wales to renounce sterling. Eurozone membership, once achieved, is a condition of EU membership. So the Greeks cannot vote to leave the euro, unless they vote to leave the EU — which even the FT is not claiming is happening.
If the eurozone leaders say this will be the result of a No vote, they are either lying or proposing to break their own law. Mr Tsipras’s government must have a good legal case before the European Court of Justice that its country became the victim of an illegal act when the ECB cut off funding. No doubt it won’t win, because the ECJ always finds in favour of ‘Europe’ and because it probably won’t get to court anyway since the frightened Greek people are more likely to vote Yes than No on Sunday, and then the Greek government will change yet again. But it is not a clever idea for the eurozone to humiliate its weakest member; and it is not clever of Britain’s leading business newspaper to order poor little Greece to do what Germany wants.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, available in The Spectator tomorrow.