As the Italian government struggle to borrow and Spain considers seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warn that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible. Eurocrats say that they will do everything in their powers to prevent this happening but of course they may find the situation so untenable that there is no viable alternative.
Diplomats are therefore preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.
Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest. Greece has already seen several outbreaks of civil disorder as its government struggles with its huge debts. British officials think similar scenes cannot be ruled out in other nations if the euro collapses.
Diplomats have also been told to prepare to help tens of thousands of British citizens in eurozone countries with the consequences of a financial collapse that would leave them unable to access bank accounts or even withdraw cash. If eurozone governments defaulted on their debts, the European banks that hold many of their bonds would risk collapse.Some analysts say the shock waves of such an event would risk the collapse of the entire financial system, leaving banks unable to return money to retail depositors and destroying companies dependent on bank credit.
The EU treaties that created the euro and set its membership rules contain no provision for members to leave, meaning any break-up would be disorderly and potentially chaotic.
It is good to know that they care about us, it would be even better if they told us something of their plans to help us out.