Yanis Varoufakis made his way to Britain recently as part of his tours of the continent, aiming to mobilise support for DiEM25 and its Progressive Agenda for Europe. During his visit over the weekend, Yanis and some other leading DiEMers hosted an event in London at Conway Hall to assemble together Europe-minded British progressives and kick-start their mobilisation.
The previous day, on the Friday, Yanis, along with Srećko Horvat and Elif Şafak attended an event hosted by The Guardian, again to spread the message of Democracy in Europe, and to galvanise Britons, demoralised by the unfolding course of Brexit. However, a lesser known event also took place earlier that Friday, as Yanis Varoufakis came to King’s College London and spoke to a room of over 200 students and staff to discuss Europe’s Crisis, and DiEM25’s Agenda to solve it. Hosted by the KCL European Society and the Department of Political Economy, we brought Yanis to the centre of London to speak to an enthused audience of students and academics who are concerned for Europe’s future and, we hope, were open to hearing the progressive message of DiEM25.
Among the topics discussed were Brexit, the May government’s grappling with one of the most difficult issues to face Britain in decades, Trump’s America, the prospects of Corbyn’s Labour Party, the travesty of the Eurozone crisis, the failure of Europe’s leaders to arrest that crisis, and how people can get involved, convince others and win the political battles we are now being confronted with. After Yanis’ opening speech, discussions between him and members of the audience lasted for another 45 minutes as we tried to look through as many details as possible of the current political crisis our continent faces.
A key point which was discussed was DiEM25’s relevance to Britain considering the recent vote to leave the Union last June; a theme which continued over the weekend. Some of the key ideas Yanis got across on the subject were that whilst Britain can vote to leave the EU, extracting itself politically and economically is a mammoth task which cannot be accomplished without pain and a considerable amount of time. Nor is it something we progressives at least should be extracting ourselves from; Europe’s battles are our battles, and the challenges fellow Europeans face on the continent are those we face on these islands also. Refugees and migration, green energy and climate change, stagnant economies, official transparency and the ever-elusive subject of democracy are all at the centre of the political debate and will guide us as we go forward; to turn our backs to the continent would mean to turn our back on the very same battles we are fighting here, and in which we need as many allies as we can get. Ultimately Britain cannot face the challenges of the future alone, we can only do this as Europe, united.
As our assembly came to an end, our audience gave a rapturous applause. Thanks King’s College staff and students for a fantastic afternoon!
Photo Credits: Ray Tang