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The Integrity Initiative and the British Roots of the Deep State: How the Round Table Infiltrated America

Kissinger’s takeover of the State Department ushered in a new era of British occupation of American foreign policy.

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With the nearly weekly revelations that the British Foreign Office, MI6, and GCHQ have been behind the long standing agenda to undermine the Presidency of Donald Trump and undo the peaceful alliance between nationalist leaders in America, Russia, China and elsewhere, a new focus on the British hand in undermining the United States has become a serious thought for many citizens. In the first week of the new year, fuel was added to this fire when internal memos were leaked from the British-run Integrity Initiative featuring a startling account of the techniques deployed by the anti-Russian British operation to infiltrate American intelligence institutions, think tanks and media.

For those who may not know, The Integrity Initiative is an anti-Russian propaganda outfit funded to the tune of $140 million by the British Foreign office. The January 2019 leak, featuring documents dated to the early period of Trump’s election, demonstrate that this organization, already active across Europe promoting anti-Russian PR and smearing nationalist leaders such as Jeremy Corbyn, was intent on spreading deeply into the State Department and setting up “clusters” of anti-Trump operatives. The documents reveal high level meetings that Integrity Initiative Director Chris Donnelly had with former Trump Advisor Sebastien Gorka, McCain Foundation director Kurt Volker, Pentagon PR guru John Rendon among many others.

The exposure of the British hand behind the scenes affords us a unique glimpse into the real historical forces undermining America’s true constitutional tradition throughout the 20th century, as Mueller/the Five Eyes/Integrity Initiative are not new phenomena but actually follow a modus operandi set down for already more than a century. One of the biggest obstacles to seeing this modus operandi run by the British Empire is located in the belief in a mythology which has become embedded in the global psyche for over half a century and which we should do our best to free ourselves of.

Debunking the Myth of the “American Empire”

While there has been a long-standing narrative promoted for over 70 years that the British Empire disappeared after World War II having been replaced by the “American Empire”, it is the furthest thing from the truth. America, as constitutionally represented by its greatest presidents (who can unfortunately be identified by their early deaths while serving in office), were never colonialist and were always in favor of reining in British Institutions at home while fighting British colonial thinking abroad.

Franklin Roosevelt’s thirteen year-long battle with the Deep State, which he referred to as the “economic royalists who should have left America in 1776″, was defined in clear terms by his patriotic Vice-President Henry Wallace who warned of the emergence of a new Anglo-American fascism in 1944 when he said:

“Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.”

The fact is that already in 1944, a policy of Anglo-Saxon imperialism had been promoted subversively by British-run think tanks known as the Round Table Movement and Fabian Society, and the seeds had already been laid for the anti-Russian cold war by those British-run American fascists. It is not a coincidence that this fascist Cold War policy was announced in a March 5, 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri by none other than Round Table-follower Winston Churchill.

The Empire Strikes

When the Round Table Movement was created with funds from the Rhodes Trust in 1902, a new plan was laid out to create a new technocratic elite to manage the re-emergence of the new British Empire and crush the emergence of American-inspired nationalism globally. This organization would be staffed by generations of Rhodes Scholars who would receive their indoctrination in Oxford before being sent back to advance a “post-nation state” agenda in their respective countries.

As this agenda largely followed the mandate set out by Cecil Rhodes in his Seventh Will who said “Why should we not form a secret society with but one object: the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire?”

With the help of an anglophile, racist president in America, leading figures organizing these think tanks first advanced a program to create a “League of Nations” as the solution to the “nationalist problem” which humanity was told “caused” World War One. Nationalist forces in America rejected the idea that the constitution should be rendered obsolete and the plan for global governance failed. However that did not stop the Round Table Movement from trying again. Leading Round Table controller Lord Lothian (British Ambassador to the USA) complained of the “American problem” in 1918.

”There is a fundamentally different concept in regard to this question between Great Britain and the United States  as to the necessity of civilized control over politically backward peoples…. The inhabitants of Africa and parts of Asia have proved unable to govern themselves…. Yet America not only has no conception of this aspect of the problem but has been led to believe that the assumption of this kind of responsibility is iniquitous imperialism.

They take an attitude towards the problem of world government exactly analogous to the one they [earlier] took toward the problem of the world war. If they are slow in learning we shall be condemned to a period of strained relations between the various parts of the English-speaking world. [We must] get into the heads of Canadians and Americans that a share in the burden of world government is just as great and glorious a responsibility as participation in the war”.

A Chinese leader of the American-inspired republican revolution of 1911 named Sun Yat-sen warned of the likes of Lord Lothian and the League of Nations in 1924 when he said “The nations which are employing imperialism to conquer others and which are trying to maintain their own favored positions as sovereign lords of the whole world are advocating cosmopolitanism [aka: global governance/globalization -ed] and want the world to join them… Nationalism is that precious possession by which humanity maintains its existence. If nationalism decays, then when cosmopolitanism flourishes we will be unable to survive and will be eliminated”.

New Name. Same Beast

By 1919, the Round Table Movement changed its name to the Royal Institute for International Affairs (aka: Chatham House) with the “Round Table” name relegated to its geopolitical periodical. In Canada and Australia, branches were created in 1928 under the rubrics of “Canadian and Australian Institutes for International Affairs” (CIIA, AIIA). However in America, where knowledge of the British Empire’s subversive role was more widely known, the name “American Institute for International Affairs” was still too delicate. Instead the name “Council on Foreign Relations” was chosen and was chartered in 1921.

Rhodes Scholar William Yandall Elliot surrounded by a few of his leading disciples: Sir Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski Samuel Huntington and Pierre Trudeau

Staffed with Rhodes Scholars and Fabians, the CFR (and its International Chatham House counterparts) dubbed themselves “independent think tanks” which interfaced with Rhodes Scholars and Fabians in academia, government and the private sector alike with the mission of advancing a foreign policy agenda that was in alignment with the British Empire’s dream of an Anglo-American “special relationship”. One such Rhodes Scholar was William Yandall Elliot, who played a major role mentoring Henry Kissinger and a generation of geo-politicians from Harvard, not the least of whom include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Samuel (Clash of Civilizations) Huntington.

The Round Table in Canada and the Coup Against FDR

In Canada, five leading Rhodes Scholars were busy creating the League of Social Reconstruction as a self-described “Fabian Society of Canada” in 1931 which was meant to be a fascist/technocratic answer to the chaos of “greedy nationalism” that supposedly caused the economic collapse of Black Friday in 1929. During the same time in America, a different path to fascism was taken by these networks during the early 1930s. This plan involved installing a General named Smedley Butler into power as a puppet dictator steered by the Anglo-American establishment. Luckily for America and the world, General Butler blew the whistle on the coup against Franklin Roosevelt at the last minute.

Kissinger’s British Takeover of America

Though it took a few assassinations throughout the post war years, Kissinger’s takeover of the State Department ushered in a new era of British occupation of American foreign policy, whereby the republic increasingly became the “Dumb Giant” acting as “American Brawn for the British brains” using Churchill’s words. While a nihilistic generation of youth were tuning in on LSD, and an old guard of patriots surrounding Wallace and Kennedy had fallen to the “red scare” witch hunt, geopolitical theory was fed like a sweet poison down the throat of a sleeping nation, replacing a policy of peace and “win-win cooperation” advanced by true nationalist patriots as FDR, Wallace and the Kennedys, with an imperial clone masquerading as a republic.

Sir Kissinger did nothing less than reveal his total allegiance to the British Empire on May 10, 1981 during a Chatham House conference in Britain when he described his relationship with the British Foreign office in the following terms: “The British were so matter-of-factly helpful that they became a participant in internal American deliberations, to a degree probably never practiced between sovereign nations… In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department… It was symptomatic”.

During this period, Kissinger worked closely with CIA director George Bush Senior, who was later rewarded for his role in advancing the British-planned first war on Kuwait with a knighthood. This war set the stage for the second wave of Middle East wars beginning with the Anglo-Saudi orchestrated operation known as 9/11 and the ushering in of the new “post-nation state order” by Kissinger and Blair.

This was the era which was celebrated by both Kissinger and Bush in sundry places as “the New World Order”.

The Dystopic New World Order Threatened by a New Deal of the 21st Century

It is this dystopic geopolitical order which has been challenged by the Russia-China alliance which arose in earnest with Xi Jinping’s 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative as the Grand design for large scale infrastructure projects internationally and in September 2015 with Vladimir Putin’s intervention into Syria which defeated the Hobbesian regime change paradigm which poisoned the west. In 2016, the election of nationalist American President Donald Trump opened the door for the first time in over 50 years to a true national coalition of sovereign nations to eliminate the cancer of colonial thinking forever from the earth.

It is this same British-run deep state which owns Robert Mueller, who along with the Integrity Initiative, Five Eyes and other Deep State operatives are dedicated to overthrowing President Trump from office and undoing the great potential now facing the world as outlined by the Schiller Institute and American statesman Lyndon LaRouche: 1) an FDR-style re-organization of the bankrupt banking system and 2) the unleashing of a global New Silk Road as the New Deal of the 21st Century.


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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William H Warrick III MDam hantsSilence DogoodSilence DogoodL Garou Recent comment authors
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Herbert Dorsey
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Herbert Dorsey

This British Roundtable and how it was formed is described in detail in the book “The Secret History of the Twentieth Century” The Roundtable not only organized the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S., but also the Federal Reserve Bank and the progressive income tax. When all three of these measures were fully operational, the Roundtable considered their task of peacefully regaining control over the U.S. as accomplished. This was the start of the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain – nations that had been mortal enemies from the Revolutionary war to the Civil War.

Normski
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Normski

Thank you – I learn something every day on this forum.

Silence Dogood
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Silence Dogood

While those are true things which resulted in a major success in the British Takeover of America in 1913 I would add that this was a win of a battle but not of the war for the British oligarchy. There was a good deal of fightback against their agenda throughout the 20th century- an awareness of would provide us with tools to fight and an understanding of the Empire’s weak spots.

Normski
Member
Normski

How do I join the FSB / MI6 – I think I’d be good at infiltrating Heather Nauert and Megyn Kelly. At my age, your just grateful for anything you can get and at least they’re both decent looking!.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

For the FSB you need to be born in Russia, own a Russian passport and speak Russian. Also, you need Russian military training and schooling at the Secret Services’ Institutions. Furthermore, you cannot join them unless invited.

ToivoS
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ToivoS

Praise for the American statesman Lyndon LaRouche is downright weird. I am not sure that The Duran wants to associated with that bizarre cult leader.

Silence Dogood
Guest
Silence Dogood

At this point, if you agree with the thesis presented in the above article then what is you’re issue with Lyndon Larouche? The man has been on recorded fighting and exposing this British run machine in the USA and globally for over 50 years and getting slandered the whole time.

Mistaron
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Mistaron

‘This war set the stage for the second wave of Middle East wars beginning with the Anglo-Saudi orchestrated operation known as 9/11’

Was no mention of Israel an oversight?

You can call me AL
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You can call me AL

You only need to look at the pictures to see why + of course realise, we created Israel.

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

I find it interesting that Sebstian Gorka is named as part of this group especially since he was a supporter/advisor to Trump. It raises questions as to whether this is something Trump is aware of.

L Garou
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L Garou

The sun never sets on the crimes of the British Empire..

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

More the ‘City of London’, which like the District of Columbia, is a state, independent of it’s host nation, with it’s own taxes and laws, going back to the days of the Roman Empire. Judea, over 2,000 years ago was an outpost of the Roman Empire. The Vatican is also part of the group, a country, independent of it’s host country. Again with it’s own laws and taxes. All three, are administered by the same crowd, who control the Fed Reserve, the Crown Estate and also the Vatican Estate. Three Corporations Rule The World. District of Columbia – controls the… Read more »

William H Warrick III MD
Guest
William H Warrick III MD

This Secret Elite of plan World Government was laid out in “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. It is failing and will continue to fail because Orwell’s “Proles” rose up and elected Trump, Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela and is blocking the 2nd Coup attempt. They voted for Brexit, the Populists in Europe, Blaxit in the US and brought on the “Yellow Vests” in France. Orwell called it, his Proles rose up to destroy this diabolical plan. People should know that both he and Huxley worked for British Intelligence in the and Dutch East India Corporations. NSA, CIA and the… Read more »

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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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