'I'm still holding out for a people's vote': The Brexit reaction from Germany

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
'I'm still holding out for a people's vote': The Brexit reaction from Germany
Photo: Depositphotos/JEGAS RA

Brexit is dominating the news in Europe, including in Germany. Here's the reaction to the latest developments.


German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass welcomed the Brexit deal on Thursday.
He tweeted: I'm very happy about the preliminary deal, even if I regret Brexit as such. We and the other member states will have to take a careful look at the wording and then decide on it in the European Council."
"We want to preserve the closest possible ties with our British friends. What's important for us is that Brexit doesn't affect the rules of the common market. It's a central achievement of the European project."
The near 600-page draft, negotiated with Brussels, covers citizens' rights, concerns over Northern Ireland, and plans for a post-Brexit transition period during which both sides hope to agree a new trade deal.
However, the situation is still developing as British Prime Minister Theresa May was trying to sell her Brexit deal to parliament on Thursday, boosted by news that Europe is preparing a rapid summit to sign off on the agreement.
Two ministers, including Brexit minister Dominic Raab, have resigned in protest against the agreement.
"The man who handled the Brexit draft himself has stepped down precisely because of this deal. Welcome to UK politics 2018," tweeted ARD Brussels correspondent Markus Preiß.
Right to work outside the EU 'not addressed'
Business owner Rob Harrison, of the group British in Germany, said he sensed both the British and German press were "sceptical" about the deal, but he added: "At least there is a degree of certainty about the rights of citizens.
"However, the right to work outside the host country for UK citizens does not seem to be addressed which could be a problem for Britons working for multinational firms.
"The right to move on to another EU country after living in Germany is also not addressed - although the UK government's memorandum on the Agreement says that this point will be addressed in a future agreement.
"Germany and other European companies would be happy to see that a customs union and in effect many other parts of the single market will continue to be in place for some time."
Harrison, who has lived in Bavaria since 1990, said this gives a "degree of confidence that business can continue".
"I think that the German government will generally be happy as all parties have been clear that preservation of the single market has been one of their priorities," he added.
Harrison said that he still hoped Brits could have a final say.
"I’m still hoping that a people's vote will be called on the deal so that voters can have a say on this agreement, whether to leave the EU with no deal or whether to stay in the EU."

SEE MORE: OPINION - It's time to ringfence citizens' rights before Brexit

Follow what Brits throughout Europe think of Brexit on our live blog.

'The best we can expect'

Bernd Hüttemann, vice president of the European Movement and Secretary General of its German council, which specializes in European affairs, said the deal was "the best that we can expect given the circumstances of what's going on in the UK".
He said: "From the EU side of things I think that they did everything right. I'm quite impressed by the 27 countries sticking together with the commission leading it and I don't see any mistakes on that part."
Thinking about Brexit generally, Hüttemann used the German word fremdschämen to sum it up. That word is used to describe the process of feeling embarrassed on the behalf of others.
"It's sad. There's a great German word that I'd use: fremdschämen," he said.
"But it is really sad because people will suffer who don't know why it's happening or who want it to happen.
"The ones who make the whole thing so difficult won't suffer. I think overall that businesses, politicians and everyone else in Germany is asking: what the hell is going on there.
"Everyone hopes at least that Britain can stay inside the internal market, the customs union."
Hüttemann added that he felt no concern on the future of Europe.
"I look back at the time where everyone was saying the EU would fall apart after the Brexit vote and that has not taken place. The opinion polls show people are even more in favour of the EU thanks to Brexit and maybe a little bit because of Trump," he said.
No 'all-clear signal': Reaction of politics and industry
German chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her satisfaction with the proposal on Thursday, despite turbulance involved drafting it
"I am very happy that, after lengthy and not always easy negotiations, a proposal could be reached," Merkel said of the draft while at a cabinet retreat in Potsdam.
Vice-Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) stressed that he regretted the "unchanged" British decision to leave the EU.It was "obvious" that the debates in Britain would "not be easy," he said.
"Nevertheless, all we can really do is shout: The worst thing that can happen is disorderly development. This is not good for citizens, nor for the economic outlook."
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) also was worried about the situation in Britain. "There is no all-clear signal," said BDI Chief Executive Joachim Lang told DPA. The ratification of the initially reasonable outcome of the negotiations is now very uncertain, Lang said.
With additional reporting by Rachel Stern and DPA.


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Anonymous 2018/11/15 19:44
“We want to preserve the closest possible ties with our British friends. What's important for us is that Brexit doesn't affect the rules of the common market“. The UK voted to remain in the common market. What it did not vote for was to join the EU. There are the ‘ties’ that were imposed on the UK, behind closed doors, which is why Brexit happened. The UK looks forward to friendship, commerce and diplomacy with all other nations. No ties, thanks.

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