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EU: Germany desperately pleads that Britain remain to keep EU dream alive

Just a week after 80 per cent of Germans said they wanted Britain to remain, the new issue of prestigious news magazine Der Spiegel which hits newsstands on Saturday is emblazoned with the Union Jack and bears the English language headline; “Please don’t go!  Why Germany needs the British.”

The headlines are also printed in the native tongue, but there is no doubt that the message is meant to spread far and wide from its usual readership, right into the ranks of those in Britain still undecided about whether to Bremain or Brexit come June 23.

In an editorial, the magazine argues: “While it is too late to convince the British to love the EU, perhaps we should use this opportunity to mention how much the rest of Europe admires them.

“It’s unbelievable that they don’t seem to see how much they’ve shaped the continent, how much we value them here, how close we Germans feel to them.

“Germany has always looked across the Channel with some degree of envy.  On our emotional map of Europe, the Italians were responsible for love and good food, the French for beauty and elegance and the Brits for nonchalance and progress.

“They have an inner independence that we Germans lack, in addition to myriad anti-authoritarian, defiant tendencies. A lot of what happened in Britain spilled over to us sooner or later, reinforcing our cultural ties.”

In a bow to British cultural exports ranging from “James Bond to Twiggy’s haircut”, the magazine said it wanted to offer Britain a “firm handshake, coupled with an honest, straightforward appeal: remain”.

But near the homage to all-things-Albion came a starker warning from Wolfgang Schäuble, the powerful financial minister of the continent’s powerhouse economy, who warned of dark trading days ahead if Britain votes to leave the EU club.

He said it would be impossible for Britain to reap the benefits of a Norwegian or Swiss-style relationship whereby both countries trade as equal EU partners with Europe without being members of the EU.

Wolfgang Schäuble warned Brexit would see the UK excluded from the single market

Schäuble told Der Spiegel: “That won’t work. It would require the country to abide by the rules of a club from which it currently wants to withdraw.

“If the majority in Britain opts for Brexit, that would be a decision against the single market. In is in. Out is out. One has to respect the sovereignty of the British people.

“Europe will also work without Britain if necessary.  At some point, the British will realise they have taken the wrong decision. And then we will accept them back one day, if that’s what they want.”

The Christian Democrat, seen as the key actor behind Germany’s hardline stance towards Greece at the height of the eurozone debt crisis, said he and his counterparts in the eurozone would “do everything possible to contain these consequences”.

Britain will vote on whether to leave or remain in the EU on June 23

He also said it would be a “miracle” if there were no economic shocks for Britain following a withdrawal, and admitted there could be grave consequences for other EU nations too.

He said: “How, for example, would the Netherlands react, as a country that has traditionally had very close ties to Britain? It is important for the EU to send the message that it has understood the vote and is prepared to learn from it.”

Last week’s poll by  ARD-Deutschland showed nearly 80 per cent of the population wanted Britain to stay.



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About the author

Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field