Yes…that George Soros.
Before he became one of the leading financiers for the Democrats, before he became a bête noir of the right, George Soros made his name betting that the UK could not keep the pound in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), the precursor to the euro. The Conservative government of John Major was determined to keep the pound in the ERM, until September 16, 1992, when it became clear interest rates would have to skyrocket and foreign reserves would be depleted. By nightfall, the government announced the obvious: Britain had crashed out of the ERM.
Soros became a multi-billionaire (Telegraph); the Tories became toxic; and the euro would become impossible for the UK. It is that last point that is critical: Great Britain and Northern Ireland would now be spared the perils that inflict today’s eurozone.
Lest anyone think this is a case of the passage of time upgrading an action, there were many of us back then who thought it was folly for the UK to enter the ERM, let alone risk their entire economy just to stay. As Daniel Hannan notes, much of the political consensus around the ERM was just that, political. There was no economic justification; it was all about supporting a unified Europe (or, if you prefer, Postchristendom). Hannan himself stood up for his country against this nonsense, and the markets soon did the rest.
Whether Soros led the market forces or (far more likely) was just one of the eager participants may never be known, and likely can never be known even by him. What we do know, however, is that he at the very least played a part in shoving the United Kingdom out of the path of the oncoming train that has felled Greece and is on it’s way to flattening Spain, Portugal, Italy, and likely every other eurozone member including Germany itself. For that reason, I will always be – and the British and Ulster people should always be – grateful.
Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal