Brexit – From a German Perspective

Granted, the Brexit outcome of the referendum on the issue of Great Britain leaving the EU is already a few months old.

Still, we thought it might be worthwhile, to sum up, the matter from a German perspective. To be frank, the whole process that led up to the referendum seemed rather absurd to me, and I dare say to the majority of Germans following the news.

Figures such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson created a resemblance to the 2016 election campaign in the USA, but maybe that’s due to our typical politician being more of a bland character. Up to the last weeks before the vote, most people I talked to and I guess even most of our political experts did not believe the so-called Brexit could be possible. Boy, were we proven wrong.

If I were to generalize, which I am, I’d say that the majority of Germans tends to be pro-European and pro-EU. While we have our share of euro-sceptical parties, even the biggest of them, the AFD, was not being able to achieve success solely on this issue. Only after turning into an outright right-wing party, the AFD became a lot more successful. Meanwhile, the new party of AFD-Founder Bernd Lucke, still running on the anti-Euro issue, has faded to insignificance.

Back to Brexit

The closer the referendum came, the more German media outlets acknowledged that it could happen and began to speculate on its possible consequences. What would it mean for visiting friends and family in the United Kingdom? Or just for that weekend trip to London? What would the British leaving the EU mean for our economy? For Germany’s role in Europe?

In general, there was this fear of Britain just moving into a greater distance, without actually moving at all. Then again, supporters of the European idea were afraid that the Brexit would strengthen Germany’s leading role in the EU even more. A role, that, in their eyes, had not been beneficial for all of Europe but had been somewhat responsible for the economic division of north and south within the union, especially within the Eurozone.

When the votes were finally cast, we were shocked, to say the least – some maybe even angry. European economic experts and scientists had stated that the United Kingdom would suffer terribly under Brexit, while the EU would be damaged, though not severely. European Parliament officials were quick to stand together and pledge the unity of the EU’s remaining members.

Brexit - From a German Perspective
© Pixabay

As for Britain, I was wondering about the social and political atmosphere it took to allow the referendum to go out the way it did. And, to be honest, I was wondering about the outright stupidity and falseness of some of the claims made by UKIP and other pro-Brexit organizations and individuals – as well as the way they ran the campaigns. Of course, some people were well informed and had made up their mind. Nevertheless, the viral videos of individuals who had no clue whatsoever what they were voting for, or even what the EU was, was heartbreaking. As somebody not living in the UK, I cannot assert that I would know what actually happened.

But taking the British people and the British media into account that inhabit my social bubble, I feel a bit scared because I cannot exclude something like this happening in Germany, one of the very few countries who would most likely survive a collapse of the European Union relatively unharmed.

6 responses to “Brexit – From a German Perspective”

  1. Many brits don’t understand the EU and have only a very basic notion of what free movement of people is, based on flashing a passport quickly to an official at Malaga Airport. I think there is broad agreement that cooperation with European neighbours is vital on trade, security and securing basic human rights across the continent. However, the institutions and leaders of the EU are totally alien to the people of the UK. This was brought into sharp relief when Junker was negotiated into power without having ever set foot in the UK during his “election campaign”. It’s a tale of neglect and understanding on both sides of the Channel which has led to this historic mistake. Nobody seems willing to find a middle way and so we’re left waiting for a divisive exit process to start that will antagonise sensible people on both sides and drive a permanent wedge between the UK and Europe. Germany will no longer be able to orchestrate EU outcomes and will truly have to lead now. It will be interesting to see from glorious isolation in these islands how that will turn out.

  2. This Europe, as is today, effectively run by Germany’s Schauble, is no place for an England which in its history knows only to lead and not be led. To me that’s the main ‘behind the curtains’ reason. The immigration – mostly European – is a problem, but second to the apparent German attempt for European (economic) hegemony for the third time in history, which suffocates the Brits.

  3. Why would the British government have a referendum on whether to stay or leave Europe if it was so beneficial for the UK to stay in Europe?
    Why take the risk?

    The government asked working class people, who have very little knowledge of the pros and cons of being part of the European Union to vote.
    Most working class people’s idea of being part of Europe is of mass uncontrolled immigration, mostly Polish, who take all the hospital beds, jobs, and council houses.
    If you believe that to be true, then what is there to like?

    Maybe the British government wanted to leave Europe, and Nigel Farage was a key instrument in convincing the public to vote ‘out’……
    The British could not get the deal that they were looking for in the European Union and engineered ‘Brexit’. Don’t forget that until Article 50 is invoked, there is no ‘Brexit’. The result of the referendum was merely the opinion of the people, not law. Will the European Union offer an 11th hour deal that the UK just can’t refuse?

    According to the media, there is the option of the UK joining the Scandinavian countries to create a Nordic Alliance of non-EU countries.

    Time will tell……….

  4. I am somewhat agree with Henrik. We Germans are shocked on the Pegida so well as the AfD and now think the UK has caused this slide to the right, we sometimes call it, in Europe!

    The Brexit is after my meaning, bad for Britain, but worse for Germany.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Jim! You are absolutely right, that we have to be aware of the AFD and others. Especially in these volatile times (looking at e.g. the USA, Austria and Italy) It was and still is really shocking to see how so many British citizens could fall for so many outright lies. The EU is, of course, very far from perfect or even good, but it can serve as a means for effective peaceful communication between its members. Still, it’s scary to see what populism can do, even in multi-cultural places such as the UK.

  6. Interesting to get the view from a German perspective. The Brexit Vote Leave campaign was, ultimately, based on lies and distortions. For example, a key claim of the Leave side was that the UK spends £350million on EU membership every week, and that post-Brexit this would be made available to the National Health Service. Of course, it turns out that because of our rebate the actual figure is much less. And just last week, the ‘Brexit Minister’ David Davies stated that the UK could potentially pay for access to the European Single Market! How much per week, I wonder? Generally I feel the overall atmosphere on this island has become incredibly hostile towards foreigners, this is a huge shame and represents the skill of Farage and his kind in whipping up xenophobic sentiments before sitting back and watching the chaos begin. Beware the AfD party, Germany!

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