'What a Brexshit!': How Germany is reacting to the Brexit deal defeat

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'What a Brexshit!': How Germany is reacting to the Brexit deal defeat
Photo: DPA

As the UK parliament gets ready to debate a vote of no confidence on Wednesday evening after MPs voted against Theresa May's Brexit deal by a huge majority, we look at what Germany has to say.


It was the biggest defeat ever suffered by a British Prime Minister in modern history. Parliament voted 432 to 202 against May's plan for taking Britain out of the EU, leaving the country"s future foggy with its legally binding departure date just 10 weeks away.

As Brexit hangs in the balance, Politicians, newspapers and commentators in Germany and Europe have been having their say on the chaotic events taking place on the island.

SEE ALSO: Brits in EU demand to be spared from Brexit 'train crash' after May's deal rejected

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that delaying Brexit beyond March 29th would make no "sense", after a vote in London brought a crushing defeat for a withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU.

"It would only make sense (to extend the deadline) if there is a path to the goal of a deal between the EU and Great Britain," Maas said in an interview on Deutschlandfunk public radio.

For now, "that is not the majority view in the British parliament," he added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also this week argued that Brexit should not be pushed back, although she did not rule it out completely.

Maas added that he was doubtful any significant improvements could be made to the draft withdrawal agreement on the table - negotiated over two years since London notified Brussels it would quit the European Union.

"We have a compromise," Maas said. "If more could have been offered, it would have been done weeks ago."

The centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician added that he hoped a no-confidence vote Wednesday fails to topple May's government.

"We need a stable government for the negotiations," he said.

Maas also tweeted to say the ball is now in the UK's court. He added that it isn't clear what the UK wants, "only what it doesn't want", and mentioned Germany's preparations for the event of a deal and a no-deal.

"In Germany, we have passed two major legislative packages in order to be prepared for everything. But: we hope for reason," he added.

'Bitter day for Europe'

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday the defeat of British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal in parliament was a "bitter day for Europe".

"This is a bitter day for Europe. We are well prepared - but a hard Brexit would be the least attractive choice, for the EU and GB (Great Britain)," said Scholz, who is also finance minister.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right CDU party and her likely successor, tweeted that she "deeply regretted" the British decision.

"A hard Brexit will be the worst of all options," she said, urging the British people to "not rush" into anything.

Germany's Minister of State for European Affairs Michael Roth called the outcome a "disaster" but added: "The doors of Europe remain open."

Dietmar Bartsch, of the Die Linke (the Left), tweeted that "madness has taken hold" in London.


Newspapers across Germany led with the story. Daily Bild ran with the headline: "Was für ein Brexshit!" (What a Brexshit), and in an opinion piece, it said the UK was "formerly known as the Island of Reason".

It added: "In Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May has humiliatingly lost her most important vote - but that doesn't mean she's being chased out of office by the same large majority today. So she is stalking London like a political undead.

"It is sad to see the future of such a proud Great Britain being blown away."

The Frankfurter Rundschau ran with a photo of British comedy character Mr Bean and a Hamlet quote: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't." The colloquial version is: "There's method in the madness."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine ran with the headline: "Und, Jetzt?!" - "Now what?!"

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece, the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung didn't hold back.

"There is no glue that can be used to reassemble the British political system, which has disintegrated into a thousand splinters," it said.

"Theresa May has suffered a brutal defeat, her plan to implement the citizens' Brexit wish has failed. But: the Prime Minister accepts this defeat as part of the show, only to march on stoically. But where does she actually want to go?"

'No room for renegotiation'

If May wins the vote of no confidence she will likely want to go back to EU partners to see if she can amend the deal.

Reinhard Bütikofer, head of the Green Party in Europe, said he couldn't see any more room for renegotiation.

"The alternatives are hard, but inevitable: either Article 50 will be withdrawn - with or without a new referendum - or there will be a hard Brexit of the worst kind," Bütikofer said in Brussels.

Nicola Beer, the pro business Free Democrat's lead candidate for the European elections, called for a special EU summit within 48 hours.

Beer told DPA: "The situation in Britain and the EU after Theresa May's defeat after the vote is dramatic. The EU must react immediately".

She said that "steps the EU can take to ensure that there is an orderly Brexit and that as close a relationship as possible between the EU and Britain can then develop" should be a priority.

Federal Justice Minister Katarina Barley of the centre left Social Democrats, also rejected the idea of renegotiations.

She told the Funke Group newspapers that the UK must ensure stability. "We support Great Britain on its way, but there will be no renegotiations of the agreement," she said.

At the same time she warned that a disorderly withdrawal would have "dramatic consequences for Britain, for Germany and for Europe". Barley herself has a British passport. "I have been British since birth and will remain so," she added.


Comments (3)

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Anonymous 2019/01/23 18:44
May and her government are totally out of touch with the normal people of the country who will suffer the most. Unfortunately there are still a lot of people who believe Germany will intervene and beg the EU to give the UK all it wants as its car makers are so dependent on the UK 'they need us more than we need them'. The arrogance must stop and Labour must sit up and become a proper opposition and end this madness. I live in the North East who unfortunately bought the lies peddled in 2016 and who will be hit the hardest. I am near retirement but I fear for the future of my grandchildren. What is going on now in the UK is not pretty and the racism and nationalism that has come to the fore and been allowed to grow smacks of Germany in the 1930s. Let us hope we can stop this madness now. A no deal Brexit would be more detrimental for the UK than the EU or Germany. I know the people voted leave as a reaction to the terrible years of austerity metered out by this government, but they are cutting their nose off to spite their face. I am ashamed to be British, I just wish I had taken German nationality when I lived there, at least my daughter is dual national and still has the full advantages of the EU. People forget the reason it was founded, peace in Europe and it has fulfilled that and the citizens of the UK have also profited from membership we have a much better standard of living now than in the 1970s. <br />The government need to really listen as the 'will of the people' is not what they are offering now!<br /><br />
Anonymous 2019/01/18 15:39
Colbro is talking rubbish; most people in England DO NOT want to leave the EU, current polls show the opposite. The only way forward is a general election, but the Tory party would rather see no deal than a settled agreement that harms the fewest number, in Britain and the EU. May's intransigence, and Corbyn's dithering and weakness offer little hope for Britain; but at least a change of government might clear the air. As an Englishman in France I despair of the future.....
Anonymous 2019/01/16 21:30
Mrs May caused all this bother by her complete lack of a political knowledge. She filled her cabinet with equal numbers of remainers and brexiteers to probably in order to accomodate her Womanly sense of fairness. This gradually caused a gigantic split of opinion right across the country with no respect of party or nationality. People disregarded the long-standing modus vendi in UK that when a national vote has been taken, the result is honoured until the statutary time comes to take another vote. The resul being that factions are now demanding a new vote on brexit or indeed a new government. <br /><br />Mrs May also has no feeling of getting any sort of good deal inasmuch as she threw aaway her best bagaining chips namely promising 49Bn pounds and renoucing a no-deal brexit. In just about everyting she does she puts her foot in it. <br />Poor old England, events have conspired against her and I have yet to see any understanding of our position in the German press and very little sympathy from the people that I have spoken to - they are only interested in the fact that most people in UK wish to leave the EU but not bothering to find out the reasons why this is so. COLBRO

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