At the risk of inviting opprobrium, I must admit that the murder of Anna Lindh did have me reaching for the tin-foil to wrap around my head.
Even with the solid support of the entire Swedish political class, the ‘yes’ camp was still trailing the ‘no’ camp in every single opinion poll and it did briefly cross my mind that a ‘heroic sacrifice’ might have been arranged to swing the vote. The stakes here are certainly high enough.
But, on balance, probably not. Political assassination is common enough in Europe not to have to ascribe a conspiracy to this one. Even if there was more to her murder than meets the eye, it didn’t work. The Swedes voted ‘no’ to the Euro.
On any reading this is a blow for the EU project and the coming weeks will see a deluge of federast seething, threatening and whining. Their will has been thwarted and that it just intolerable. They will even try to float the notion that the result of the Swedish referendum was ‘undemocratic’. I also expect the Swedish government to begin agitating for another referendum to get the desired result but, given the margin of the ‘no’ victory, they may not get away with that.
Quite aside from all the furore and recriminations that are bound to follow, I wonder if this could be the catalyst which leads to the unravelling of the whole project. It isn’t very likely but neither is it altogether impossible. In fact, I quite like the idea of a ‘Euro-Watch’ sweepstake: who will be the first to bail out of the Euro?
For the record, my money (sterling!) is on the French. The Germans will stick with it because they have always had an emotional investment in the European project. It enables them to be ‘Europeans’ and thus serves to expiate their guilt about being German. They will endure a lot more economic pain before they begin to think the unthinkable.
But not the French. For them, the EU has always been about advancing their national interests. All the kumbaya mummery about a united Europe is just window-dressing to disguise the self-serving reality. If it looks like wrecking their economy (or, more particularly, it begins biting into the privileges of the political class) the French will simply dump the Euro and swan off to look for another boondoggle.
Not inevitable by any means, but possible. In anticipation, I would like to extend my thanks to the Swedish electorate. They may just have done us a great favour.