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Canada’s Space Gambit and the Unraveling of Britain’s Great Game

In 2014, none other than Obama’s former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers outlined the strategy in Ottawa as he keynoted the Canada 2020 conference alongside his close friend Chrystia Freeland.

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On February 28, 2019 a new policy announcement was made in Ottawa Canada that called for a re-orientation towards space exploration in partnership with NASA on an endeavor known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) program.

This program was first announced at a Press conference in the morning with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accompanied by several fellow MPs and two young astronauts. The press conference also featured an inspired presentation by David St. Jacques, the French Canadian astronaut now working alongside American and Russian counterparts on the International Space Station who discussed the ultimate purpose of mankind as a species destined to explore deep space and therein discover our common identity. St Jacques stated:

“The International Space Station… is an example of what humanity can accomplish when we go beyond our differences and work together in peace for the benefit of all… I trained for years with people from around the world and what I realized is that the place we come from isn’t as important as the goal that brings us together- exploration and the advance of knowledge… Here on ISS we have been learning and gaining experience. Now building on what we learned we are getting ready to take the next step. Gateway will be an outpost where humans can live in lunar orbit, where we will learn to live even more autonomously from mother earth.”

The essentials of the program involve a pledge to spend $2 billion over 24 years towards the Lunar Gateway and while it will focus upon Canada’s specialization in Robotics, will have a much more wide ranging set of goals including service as a Science laboratory, a test site for new technologies, a meeting location for the exploration to the surface of the moon, mission control center for lunar operations and a future stepping stone for voyages to Mars.

Responding to the Press Conference, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine enthusiastically wrote:

“NASA is thrilled that Canada is the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost. Space exploration is in Canada’s DNA. In 1962, Canada became the third nation to launch a satellite into orbit with Alouette 1. Today, Canada leads the world in space-based robotic capabilities, enabling critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope and construction of the International Space Station. Our new collaboration on Gateway will enable our broader international partnership to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars”

This surprising shift towards a pro-NASA space program reflects a deeper pro-China maneuver underway within the Trump Administration which has occurred in spite of years of severe resistance from the Deep State.

It is no secret that NASA’s Gateway program was itself made possible by the advanced vision which both Russia and China have expressed towards a long term deep space orientation; with Russia having already announced a permanent lunar colony by 2040 (with construction slated to begin in 2025), and China’s multi-phase Chang’e program which has just made a milestone landing on the far side of the Moon. The fact that the January 3, 2019 Chang’e 4 landing occurred with collaboration with NASA was no small feat and represented a gigantic success in overthrowing the 2011 ban on US-China cooperation on space imposed by the Obama administration.

Opposing Reason: A Manufactured Scandal

Ironically, of the eight questions posed by the press after the main presentations had been given, not a single one addressed the issue of space. Instead, the Prime Minister received the “Donald Trump treatment” through a barrage of questions relating to the SNC Lavalin scandal now unfolding, and the scathing testimony given by former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould the day before which currently threatens to not only force Justin Trudeau’s resignation but also destroy SNC Lavalin’s presence in Canada for the next 10 years.

The fact that Wilson-Raybould’s resignation occurred days before Justin Trudeau’s principal advisor Gerald Butts resigned, indicates that a larger fight is underway within the ranks of the Anglo-Canadian establishment.

The question remains: What is happening within Canada? Thousands of Albertan protesters have dawned yellow vests due to the potential demise of the Trans Mountain Pipeline- several hundred of whom have made national headlines by driving a convoy of trucks across the continent to Ottawa last week in order to protest a government which has failed to defend Canadian jobs and development. Many of these protesters are even celebrating the SNC scandal which now threatens to topple the government. But is this scandal truly what it appears?

To answer any of these questions responsibly means taking a higher top-down assessment of the situation with the unconventional idea that perhaps not everything in politics is reducible to monetary profit and that Canada’s often paradoxical behavior may only be understood by observing a higher global operating system FIRST and then evaluating a purposeful role which Canada plays within such a larger “great game”.

Canada’s Role in Advancing a Green New Deal

With the formation of the Canada 2020 think tank after the defeat of the Liberal government of Paul Martin in 2006, a new “green technocratic” policy was created in order to counteract the threat to the New Liberal World Order posed by an ascendant China which was beginning to unify ever more with Russia. With the 2012 imposition of Justin Trudeau as an Obama-modelled figurehead leader of the Liberal Party, this program was put into motion in order to undermine China’s long term growth orientation through the creation of a “Canada-China Special Relationship”. In 2014, none other than Obama’s former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers outlined this strategy in Ottawa as he keynoted the Canada 2020 conference alongside his close friend Chrystia Freeland (now Canadian Foreign Minister and possible candidate to replace Trudeau). During that 2014 presentation Summers and Freeland advocated a new system based upon a “Green New Deal” to replace the current bankrupt order.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the term “New Deal” refers to the system ushered in by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 which involved vast state intervention into a financial system driven into four years of depression due to rampant de-regulation, and Wall Street speculation. The New Deal itself was driven by government regulation of the banks and long term credit invested into major infrastructure projects which allowed America to slowly recover from the decay of depression. The green version of the New Deal advocated by the likes of Summers, Freeland and other Malthusians today is a twisted perversion of the original since it is entirely based upon investments into “sustainable” energy infrastructure (windmills, biomass and solar panels). Rather than INCREASING the productive powers of a nation as the original accomplished during the 1930s, the 21st century green doppelganger can do nothing but contract a nation’s productivity and capacity to support its population.

To advance this agenda, Canada had to win China’s trust on the one hand by demonstrating that various “goods and services” could be offered to the rising dragon, while positioning itself to induce China to adopt “Green New Deal” reforms on the other. If accomplished successfully, this plan would sabotage the potential formation of a grouping of Eurasian-led nations powerful enough to challenge the Financier oligarchy.

What were those assets that Canada brought to the potential deal?

  • A Cheap Resources Honey Pot. Canada does, after all, hold the world’s greatest untapped reservoirs of oil and natural gas, as well as a multitude of other strategic raw materials.
  • Nuclear science capabilities exemplified in AECL and the unique CANDU system owned by SNC Lavalin since 2011
  • Infrastructure building capabilities exemplified by such giants as Bombardier, SNC Lavalin, and Aecon Inc. which could be deployed in the assistance of Belt and Road projects globally.

Beginning with the election of Trump and continuing with China’s official rejection of Canada’s special relationship in 2017, it started to become obvious that the Trudeau card was significantly less valuable than it was previously hoped. As 2018 unfolded, all three Canadian capabilities mentioned above started falling apart as we will briefly review below.

1. Tipping over the honey pot:

Efforts to open the Asian markets to Canadian oil and natural gas were entirely hinged on the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline and a 5 year fight to build it began.  Just three months after the Federal Government jumped in with $4.5 billion to buy the floundering project, the Federal Court of Appeals stepped in and blocked the construction on August 20, 2018. No significant channel currently exists to export gas to China as 99.2% of Canada’s oil goes to the USA. Observing the unreliable basket case behavior, China (a country which thinks hundreds of years ahead and requires stability) ultimately threw their destiny into their “special relationship” with Russia, pushing ahead with the $55 billion “Power of Siberia” pipeline to China which is now 99% finished and will soon supply over 25% of China’s energy needs.

2. Nuclear Cooperation strangled with the takedown of SNC Lavalin

With a commitment to end poverty, pollution, and drive the vast Belt and Road Initiative, China has become the world’s biggest developer of nuclear power, having grown from 3 to 38 reactors in a mere 20 years, with an additional 18 under active construction. SNC Lavalin’s ownership of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) brought it into the unique position of handling Canada’s CANDU nuclear reactor system which China has a major vested interest in. Several major treaties were signed between China and SNC Lavalin between 2014-2018 in order to integrate nuclear cooperation- one of the most important being a project to close the fuel cycle using Advanced 37M fuel.

3. The Sabotage of Canada’s Involvement with the Belt and Road

When China attempted to purchase the near-defunct yet highly valuable Canadian construction giant Aecon in May 2018, the Deep State intervened when it became evident that such a purchase could not be permitted if China were the force making the rules rather than western technocrats. This intervention came as a surprise to some who recalled that Canada had formerly done everything possible to attract China’s investments into Canadian enterprises. It was only in 2012, that the Harper government, seeking to move in more closely to China, passed the Omnibus Bill C-38 undoing in one stroke decades of environmental protection, making vast tracts of otherwise inaccessible land open for resource development. This act was accompanied by the over-riding of federal legislation which forbade foreign ownership of large Canadian businesses when China’s National Offshore Oil Co. (CNOOC) was given the green light to purchase Canada’s Nexen gas company for $15.1 billion.

With that intervention, another opportunity for Canada’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative went up in smoke.

We have come to the moment of truth.

Nothing short of a profound shift in the global operating system can have any durable positive effect upon humanity as a whole. That profound shift must take on the character of a leap from a “closed system” of entropy which is the framework under which the London-based financier oligarchy wields its power today, towards an “open system” modelled on the principle of anti-entropy. Where the former system relies on monopolizing fixed resources within a zero-sum system of “diminishing rates of return”, the latter system prioritizes creative discoveries that increase mankind’s power over nature in a manner which is in accord with the natural tendency for life to grow and thrive under states of increasing creative potential.

The Belt and Road Initiative and it’s orientation towards “win-win cooperation” alongside the Russia-China program for unbounded deep space exploration and nuclear power investment have exemplified the potential for “open-system thinking” in the 21st century.

Major Eurasian corridors of the Belt and Road Initiative

The fact that America under Donald Trump has begun to overthrow “closed system” institutions like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA, COP21, and even the ban on US-China space cooperation represents one of the most important flanking maneuvers seen since John F. Kennedy called for US-Russia joint space cooperation to end the Cold War in 1963.

The London-Wall Street led financial system which has been such a key component of the modern British Empire is obviously bankrupt and over-ripe for a collapse. Had the China-Russia alliance not grown to such empowered proportions, surely such a collapse would be a desirable outcome for those Malthusian technocrats loyal to the oligarchy. Surely a controlled collapse would not be a terrible thing for anyone who wished to establish a new “operating system” based upon a post-nation state order of green depopulation (today advanced by advocates of the Green New Deal where the “values” of money are to be determined by increasing rates of decreases of humanity’s “carbon footprints”). But that was not to be.

Not only have Russia and China successfully resisted the post-Libyan regime change order by blocking the many attempts to overthrow the Syrian government, but new alternative financial mechanisms have been created to issue productive credit not for speculation, but for long term development both in Eurasia as well as Africa and Latin America.

Russiagate has increasingly failed to overthrow the presidency of Donald Trump with no evidence ever found to substantiate Deep State Mueller’s claims of “Russian collusion”. Together, Russia and China have created a political-economic block that includes the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS and many more institutions which not only defend the principle of sovereignty, but the right of true development of those productive powers of labour that can only be driven by the ever increasing powers of human cognition. This system is open, unbounded, increasingly nuclear-powered, space-based and vectored upon an infinite potential for growth.

When all is said and done, we see an over-bloated empire, drunk through overconsumption of belief in its own arrogant infallibility and self-destructing under its own internal contradictions.

Having committed itself to an ideologically extreme position of zero compromise when faced with the creation of a new operating system that will not tolerate its existence, the oligarchy’s behavior indicates that it prefers to “rule in hell than serve in heaven”, to the point that it would even risk destroying its own basis for existence.

Whether a policy of a Green New Deal is advanced by the Deep State, or whether a true New Deal centering around Glass-Steagall bank reform, productive credit emitted through national banks and great projects of science, high speed rail, energy and space exploration remain the questions that must yet be answered.

A Map produced by the Schiller Institute featuring both current Belt and Road corridors as well as the extensions into the Americas, Europe and Africa.


BIO: Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review. His works have been published in Executive Intelligence Review, Global Research, Global Times, The Duran, Nexus Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Veterans Today and Sott.net. Matthew has also published the book “The Time has Come for Canada to Join the New Silk Road” and three volumes of the Untold History of Canada (available on untoldhistory.canadianpatriot.org). He can be reached at [email protected].

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Michael John RaffaeleOlivia Krothdan hunt Recent comment authors
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dan hunt

Canada ought not to get further involved with the god-awful usa

Olivia Kroth
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Yes, but they are in over both ears. How will Canadians extricate themselves?

Michael John Raffaele
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A wonderful synopsis of intercontinental energy transfer, nonetheless your exposé is remiss by its exclusion of a planned UHV-DC link, such the Australian betwixt Eurasian continents have published on a Facebook page @Decarboniser.

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part II – news fatigue across America

The daily barrage of Russiagate news may have been a tool to wear down the American public as the Deep State plays the long game for control.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Presently there is a media blitz on across the American news media networks. As was the case with the Russiagate investigation while it was ongoing, the conclusions have merely given rise to a rather unpleasant afterbirth in some ways as all the parties involve pivot their narratives. The conclusion of Russiagate appears to be heavily covered, yet if statistics here at The Duran are any indication, there is a good possibility that the public is absolutely fatigued over this situation.

And, perhaps, folks, that is by design.

Joseph Goebbels had many insights about the use of the media to deliver and enforce propaganda. One of his quotes runs thus:

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.

and another:

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

If there has ever been a narrative that employed these two principles, it is Russiagate.

A staggering amount of attention has been lavished on this nothing-burger issue. Axios reports that an analytics company named Newswhip tallied an astounding 533,074 web articles published about Russia and President Trump and the Mueller investigation (a number which is being driven higher even now, moment by moment, ad nauseam). Newsbusters presently reports that the networks gave 2,284 minutes to the coverage of this issue, a number which seems completely inaccurate because it is much too low (38 hours at present), and we are waiting for a correction on this estimate.

Put it another way: Are you sick of Russiagate? That is because it has dominated the news for over 675 days of nearly wall-to-wall news cycles. The political junkies on both sides are still pretty jazzed up about this story – the Pro-Trump folks rejoicing over the presently ‘cleared’ status, while of course preparing for the upcoming Democrat / Deep State pivot, and the Dems in various levels of stress as they try to figure out exactly how to pivot in such a manner that they do not lose face – or pace – in continuing their efforts to rid their lives of the “Irritant-in-Chief” who now looks like he is in the best position of his entire presidency.

But a lot of people do not care. They are tired.

I hate to say it (and yes, I am speaking personally and directly), but this may be a dangerous fatigue. Here is why:

The barrage of propaganda on this issue was never predicated on any facts. It still isn’t. However, as we noted a few days ago, courtesy of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, at present, 53% of US registered voters believe that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

That means 53% of the voting public now believes something that is totally false.

Many of these people are probably simply exhausted from the constant coverage of this allegation as well. So when the news came out Sunday night that there was no evidence of collusion and no conclusive evidence, hence, of obstruction of justice by the Trump Administration – in other words, this whole thing was a nothing burger – will this snap those 53% back into reality?

Probably not. Many of them may well be so worn down that they no longer care. Or worse, they are so worn out that they will continue to believe the things they are told that sustain the lie, despite its being called out as such.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this peculiarity of human nature, in particular in the seventh book of his Chronicles of Narnia. After a prolonged and fierce assault on the sensibilities of the Narnians with the story that Aslan, the Christ figure of this world, was in fact an angry overlord, selling the Narnians themselves into slavery, and selling the whole country out to its enemy, with the final touch being that Aslan and the devilish deity of the enemy nation were in fact one and the same, the Narnians were unable to snap back to reality when it was shown conclusively and clearly that this was in fact not the case.

The fear that was instilled from the use of false narratives persisted and blocked the animals from reality.

Lewis summarized it this way through the thoughts of Tirian, the lead character in this tale:

Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up as a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?

This is part of the toll this very long propaganda campaign is very likely to take on many Americans. It takes being strongly informed and educated on facts to withstand the withering force of a narrative that never goes away. Indeed, if anything, it takes even more effort now, because the temptation of the pro-Trump side will be to retreat to a set of political talking points that, interestingly enough, validate Robert Mueller’s “integrity” when only a week ago they were attacking this as a false notion.

This is very dangerous, and even though Mr. Trump and his supporters won this battle, if they do not come at this matter in a way that shows education, and not merely the restating of platitudes and talking points that “should be more comfortable, now that we’ve won!”

The cost of Russiagate may be far higher than anyone wants it to be. And yes, speaking personally, I understand the fatigue. I am tired of this issue too. But the temptation to go silent may have already taken a lot of people so far that they will not accept the reality that has just been revealed.

Politics is a very fickle subject. Truth is extremely malleable for many politicians, and that is saying it very nicely. But this issue was not just politics. It was slander with a purpose, and that purpose is unchanged now. In fact things may even be more dangerous for the President – even risking his very life – because if the powers that are working behind the people trying to get rid of President Trump come to realize that they have no political support, they will move to more extreme measures. In fact this may have already been attempted.

We at The Duran reported a few months ago on a very strange but very compelling story that suggested that there was an attempted assassination and coup that was supposed to have taken place on January 17th of this year. It did not happen, but there was a parallel story that noted that the President may have been targeted for assassination already no fewer than twelve times.  Hopefully this is just tinfoil-hat stuff. But we have seen that this effort to be rid of President Trump is fierce and it is extremely well-supported within its group. There is no reason to think that the pressure will lighten now that this battle has been lost.

The stakes are much too high, and even this long investigation may well have been part of the weaponry of the group we sometimes refer to as the “Deep State” in their effort to reacquire power, and in their effort to continue to pursue both a domestic and geopolitical agenda that has so far shown itself to be destructive to both individuals and nations all over the world.

Speculation? Yes. Needless? We hope so. This is a terrible possibility that hopefully no reasonable person wants to consider.

Honestly, folks, we do not know. But we had to put this out there for your consideration.

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Parliament Seizes Control Of Brexit From Theresa May

Zerohedge

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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