The eurozone will not survive another year, warns Boris

Comments on Greece and Spain by leading Conservatives further enrage the Lib Dems

Nigel Morris
Monday 19 December 2011 01:00 GMT
<p>Unusual couch-fellows Boris Johnson, right, and former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday</p>

Unusual couch-fellows Boris Johnson, right, and former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday

Boris Johnson became the most senior British political figure to forecast that the eurozone would not survive the economic crisis intact as he predicted yesterday that Greece would soon quit the single currency.

The Tory Mayor of London joked that the Greek drink, Ouzo, would be cheaper within a year as he warned against "hysterical attempts to bubblegum the whole thing together".

Baroness Neville-Jones, a former security minister, said Spain could also crash out of the currency, stranding UK nationals living in the country.

The remarks will dismay senior Liberal Democrats, who yesterday stressed the need to rebuild links with the European Union since David Cameron's use of his treaty veto 10 days ago.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, hit out at Eurosceptics who were "breezily predicting" the eurozone's collapse, and the risk to millions of British jobs, "with a sense of glee".

Mr Johnson told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 that the departure of some countries from the euro might be the "best way forward" for the EU. He added: "I'd be amazed if we were all sitting here next year and the euro had not undergone some sort of change. I think it highly likely that there will be a realignment... We all know who the likely candidates are." Lady Neville-Jones was asked about a report that the Foreign Office was drawing up plans to evacuate thousands of expatriates, many retired, from Spain in the event of economic meltdown.

"It is very hard to see at the moment how the eurozone in its present form is going to survive. Spain is clearly a vulnerable area," she told Sky News.

"Now if that happens, one of the things that will happen in a crash of that kind is that the banks would close their doors. You would find that there are people there, including our own citizens... who couldn't get money out to live on. I think this is a real contingency that they need to plan against." The Foreign Office was reported to be examining plans to send planes, coaches and ships to Spain and Portugal if people cannot withdraw money, as well as ways of offering loans to stranded Britons.

Coalition tensions on Europe were further highlighted yesterday when the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said Mr Cameron's decision to veto a treaty was "a piece of Conservative Party politics". "Certainly the Prime Minister has got a short-term boost from it, but it doesn't actually deal with the big, long-term, fundamental problems in Europe," he said, adding that any doubts over the UK's place in the EU would deter investors.

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