Bring on the Fourth Reich

There's an annoying song that they bellow out in the pubs of Kilkenny, Kildare and Kilburn on a Saturday night: "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". They're not smiling now. Ireland (the Celtic Tiger, sorry, Hamster) has joined Greece and Portugal in the EU's relegation zone.

So serious is the crisis that I had to persuade Dave and Ozzie to lend the Paddies seven of our very own billions. Initially, they were sceptical. Surely we hadn't stayed out of the euro in order to participate in such bailouts? Isn't it time, they said, that the gigantic and shadowy interests who invest in unsound banks are forced to take a loss alongside the taxpayers? Speaking as a gigantic and shadowy interest, the answer is obviously no. So the good news is that my personal investment in Ireland - £7bn - is secure.

Even better, the collapse of the Irish property market has enabled me to snap up huge tracts of prime Dublin real estate. Many of the wealthiest Irish have been forced to sell at bargain-basement prices. Even Bono and the rest of U2 have not been exempt. Thus I have managed to negotiate a socially beneficial spin-off, namely a ten-year moratorium on U2 albums.

However, until the next fiscal bankrupt identifies itself - step forward Spain; after you, Italy - I feel it is my duty as a statesman, indeed as the New Statesman (all rights reserved), to ask the unaskable. Else why be in politics?

Admittedly, sometimes it is unwise to ask the unaskable, as I discovered last week in Harvey Nichols when I bumped into Catherine Middleton. "I suppose a quick one's out of the question?" I quipped. I honestly didn't notice the bodyguards.

But the real unaskable question I need to ask is: "What is the EU for?" We all know why the common market was established: to shackle Germany and prevent another war. As Germany recovered and boomed, it suited lesser nations, such as France, to exploit German war guilt to their advantage.

Likewise, the euro was established so that said lesser nations could benefit from German financial prudence. The puzzle is - what's in it
for the Krauts?

For 50 years, the Germans distracted themselves from this question. First, there was said war guilt, then the cold war and, after that, the disruption and cost of German reunification. Now, the intrinsic pointlessness of monetary and political union is undeniable. Your average German in the Straße knows that if the Fatherland were rid of the euro, France and other hangers-on, Germany would be stronger than it has ever been.

When that day dawns - I predict it will be soon - we must hope the Germans are happy to restrict their aggressive instincts to the sports field and the sunbed. Although I am concerned to see that Angela Merkel seems to be growing a toothbrush moustache.

As told to Marks and Gran

This article first appeared in the 29 November 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Congo