Skip to main content


Europe has nothing to be smug about

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Paris and Berlin are enjoying post-Brexit Britain’s woes, says Matthew Syed in The Sunday Times. Europeans believe that Britain is mired in cronyism, regressing as a world power and – like the US – simply untrustworthy. Germany is “grinning with schadenfreude”, says Peter Tiede, chief political correspondent of the tabloid Bild. “We warned Brexiteers this would happen. Now we don’t care.” Many Germans regard their Nato allies “as no more reliable than China”.

There’s a strong element of self-delusion here. When it comes to probity and narrow populism, the UK is “hardly an outlier”. Nicolas Sarkozy has just been convicted of breaking campaign laws in office: “That means two of the past four French presidents have criminal records.” Germany has corruption problems too. It signed up to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for the sake of cheaper gas, leaving Europe “at the whims of a tyrant in Moscow”. Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor who masterminded the deal, “pocketed the riches of Croesus” from Gazprom-funded lobbying groups. The Russians have a word for when a foreign power is craftily hijacked by hostile interests: “schroederizatsiya”, or Schröderisation. All this is to say that while we’re “aimlessly sniping at one another”, Beijing and Moscow look on with glee. “Decadence is eating away at the solidarity of the West.” Grinning with schadenfreude, Herr Tiede? “I feel like weeping.”