Love between German, Britain has cooled
It wasn’t so long ago that German politicians wrote a love letter to Britain, published in The Times, pining for British humour, ales at the pub and a proper cup of milky tea. Timed just before Valentine’s Day, the letter read:
“We would miss Britain as part of the European Union, especially in these troubled times. Therefore, Britons should know, from the bottom of our hearts: we want them to stay.”
That was then.
This is now.
”Brexit is one big s***show!” German MP Michael Roth, Germany’s Minister for European Affairs said on Saturday. “I say that now very undiplomatically. I don’t know if even William Shakespeare could have come up with such up a tragedy like this one. Who will foot the bill in the end?”
Roth continued to say that ”90% of the MPs in the British government don’t even know how workers think, how they live, work and behave. But they have managed to up-end everything. And now someone else is going to have to take responsibility for their actions.”
What’s happened to all that German love for Britain? It seems to have evaporated with the chaos and dithering of British parliament, exacerbated by blistering rants from Brexiteers that cast Germany as the villain standing in the way of Brexit.
Days after Germany’s love letter, Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski accused Germany and the EU of being “ungrateful,” in a Twitter rant that he later apologized for being factually incorrect.
“Britain helped to liberate half of Europe. She mortgaged herself up to eye balls in process. No Marshall Plan for us only for Germany. We gave up war reparations in 1990. We put £370 billion into EU since we joined. Watch the way ungrateful EU treats us now. We will remember.”
In fact, the UK was the largest recipient of the US Marshall Plan after World War II, at about $3 billion.
In a BBC interview, another Conservative MP, Marc Francois, accused the German CEO of Airbus of “Teutonic arrogance” for his public criticism of Brexit: “I’m a patriotic Englishman but I would never dream of telling a German MP how to vote in the Bundestag and I think Mr Enders should pay us the same courtesy.”
“My father Reginald Francois was a D-Day veteran. He never submitted to bullying by any German and neither will his son,” he added.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Germany’s ardor for Britain — or at least the Brexiteers in Parliament — seems to have cooled.
From spurned love letters, Germany now offers vows of solidarity to Ireland.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s has rallied behind Ireland, perhaps the EU member most affected by Brexit. The specter of a hard border rekindling the decades of violence between the Republic of Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland remains the main stumbling block to the Withdrawal Deal.
On Thursday, Merkel visited the border area before holding talks with Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, bringing her own personal experience of living with wall that that once divided communist East Germany from the West.
“For 34 years I lived behind the Iron Curtain. I know only too well what it means once borders vanish, once walls fall and that one needs to do everything in order to bring about peaceful cooperation.”
In a press conference with Varadkar, Merkel pledged EU support for Ireland, promising to do everything possible to prevent a hard border from dividing Ireland again. “Every step of the way we will stand together, we will walk together.”