JINGS, crivvens, help ma boab. The shelves suddenly bare at your local Lidl or Ikea? No Dutch tomatoes, Italian Prosecco or Spanish ham? Is this perchance a fanciful Daily Mail headline on the consequences of indy Scotland introducing its own currency?

Actually, as you may have read, it is one possible outcome seriously suggested in a confidential UK Government memo detailing what might happen if Britain falls out of the EU with no agreement in place on how customs duties will be managed with Brussels. Of course, this extreme scenario owes more to the vivid imagination of a Europhile civil service trying to bounce the Tory Cabinet into a soft Brexit (or no Brexit at all) than any reality. But the fact it was both written down and then leaked to the Sunday Times indicates that the internal crisis in Theresa May’s Government has reached meltdown point. As a result, I suspect we are hurtling towards another General Election – with the parties contesting it perhaps including a new pro-EU “centrist” party (step forward David Miliband) and a new right-wing, populist formation (Farage, Banks, et al).

Such is the wobbly state of Europe, expect elections galore for the rest of this year, none of which will solve anything. Spain’s new socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, commands only 84 seats in the lower house, compared to 184 held by the Popular Party of the outgoing Mariano Rajoy.

With any luck, Sanchez will restore the suspended Catalan government and perhaps even recall the extradition warrants issued by Rajoy’s corrupt and essentially neo-Francoist administration against exiled Catalan leaders. That might buy his socialists some popular street cred before the inevitable elections required to give somebody enough seats to run the country.

Fresh Spanish elections are likely to have a problematic outcome. The left-wing populists of Podemos have been slipping in the polls, partly because they failed to support the Catalan bid for independence, and partly because their rather authoritarian leader, Pablo Iglesias, has provoked scorn by buying an expensive house, after criticising other politicians for doing the same.

Rising in the polls is the right-wing, Blairite, anti-Catalan Ciudadanos, or Citizens movement. We might see a socialist-Podemos coalition government emerge but I can’t see Sanchez and Iglesias coexisting. My best prediction would be a Ciudadanos minority government backed by the PP – unless, of course, the Spanish rural hinterland produces an upsurge of support for Rajoy. The crisis of the Spanish state will continue until it eventually fragments.

Spain’s problems are comparatively small beer compared to those of Italy, which has the third-biggest economy in the eurozone. For the past three months, there have been seemingly fruitless negotiations in an attempt to form a government between the two anti-Eu populist parties that dominated the most recent Italian elections. They are the nominally leftist Five-Star movement led by Luigi Di Maio and the far-right Italian nationalist Lega under and the racist Matteo Salvini.

A week ago, Di Maio and Salvini finally agreed a parliamentary carve-up, which included appointing as finance minister a known opponent of Italy remaining in the eurozone. This was too much for Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s Europhile president, who tried to use his powers to impose a technocrat as the prime minister, essentially over-riding the March elections in favour of a Brussels-leaning bureaucrat.

Had that gone ahead, Salvini and Di Maio would have engineered a fresh general election. In all likelihood, Salvini would have been a clear winner, fighting on an anti-Brussels, anti-immigrant and anti-euro ticket, thus clearing the way for an Italexit. And, by the by, Europe would have a neo-fascist party in government in Rome.

However, at the last moment, the Lega and Five-Star pulled back and replaced their nominee for finance minister. This tactical shift was caused by the whirlwind that ran through the global financial markets at the prospect of Italy quitting the eurozone and (possibly) the EU itself.

We now have an Italy with Salvini as interior minister. He is launching an attack on immigrants and, I predict, leftists. Di Maio becomes labour and welfare minister. An opportunist, he wants to scrap EU-imposed austerity rules and introduce a citizen’s wage. We’ll see. My prediction is that Di Maio will retreat before Brussels and the financial markets, just like the Syriza movement did in Greece.

Italy’s sovereign debts are in excess of €2 trillion. A big chunk is owed to Germany’s less than sound banks, which means Mrs Merkel will wave a big stick if Italy looks like defaulting. The ensuing crisis would trigger fresh Italian elections. Expect Salvini to revert to his anti-EU stance.

Here’s my point: fresh popular elections – whether in Spain, the UK, Italy, or Slovenia – won’t solve anything. We are in an era when the political consensus that dominated Europe since 1945 is no more. The European Humpty Dumpty can’t be put back together again.

This has to factored into any European strategy, including Scotland’s. The fundamental cause is two-fold. First there was the rise of neoliberalism, led not by the right but by the old social democratic left – a universal Blairism. This shattered the welfare contract with the working class and consequently destroyed popular support for social democratic parties in most of Europe, although there was an exception in Scotland, where the SNP did not embrace neoliberalism.

Into this vacuum poured so-called populist parties, that pitted “the people” against “the system” – usually the EU. But these parties are overwhelmingly right-wing, xenophobic and anti-immigrant. In the last resort, their narrow, authoritarian leaderships will be bought off by the big banks and big business.

The second cause of the collapse of the European integrationist model is the failure of the eurozone. The single European currency was effectively a renamed German mark, which imposed a common exchange rate between countries. This locked Europe together in a cost structure that favoured German companies and banks. Unable to devalue, other eurozone members had to impose draconian wage and social spending cuts to remain competitive.

This affected not just the southern periphery, including Spain and Greece. Finland – promoted as a model in Andrew Wilson’s Growth Report – has seen its economy stagnate since 2010. Austerity measures and wage cuts provoked widespread labour unrest, including a general strike.

The result of this austerity? Popular resistance to the EU across Europe that has been exploited by the right. Brexit has only added to Europe’s self-made internal crisis.

The UK and Scottish debates over Europe both take as read that “normality” will somehow resume if only Britain abandons plans for Brexit, or when an independent Scotland applies for EU membership.

No: the old EU is in existential crisis. Those of us – I include myself – who see Europe as a family of nations with a common culture need to grasp that Europe’s political foundations must be rebuilt from the ground up. That includes reforming or scrapping the euro – local currencies are the key to easing economic strains between neighbours. And it means facing down authoritarian populism by making common cause with trades unions, left-wing, environmental and women’s movements to build a progressive European constituency.

What we don’t need are more Macrons or David Milibands leading us, like the Pied Piper, back to an EU that puts the interests of the multinationals and investment banks ahead of ordinary people.