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30 June 2021

Yanis Varoufakis: “If I were Scottish I’d vote for independence”

The former Greek Finance Minister on European politics after five years of Brexit negotiations

By George Eaton and Phil Clarke Hill

George Eaton speaks to former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, in the first episode of the New Statesman’s series of video interviews.

On the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Mr. Varoufakis shared his reflections on the progress – or lack thereof – that has been made in decoupling the UK from its nearest, largest trading partner.

Varoufakis has long been an outspoken critic of Brexit, but in this interview does not hold back in an excoriating assessment of the European Union’s role in a changing world.

He argues that while many feared a British exit from the EU would lead to a domino effect with other countries following suit, this has not happened. To the contrary, he says, the reaction to Brexit has reduced the risk of other countries taking the same path. However, Varoufakis claims the EU is facing a greater struggle: member states have taken increased ownership of their own economies and decision-making in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, relying less on leadership from the EU. As a result, the EU faces a crisis not of membership, but of relevancy.

Varoufakis also discusses the case for Scottish independence, and argues that the primary blocker is their approach to currency. Claiming that, if he were Scottish he would vote for independence, he makes the case that the Scottish National Party could win the debate if they showed the “courage” to decouple the Scottish pound from Sterling. However, he says, he fears this is a step too far for the current Scottish leadership.

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