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Fintan O'Toole: Hard Brexiteers think Germany will blink first
Last week German foreign minister Heiko Maas made an unnecessary journey. He got up very early and flew to Dublin. At 9am he was in Dublin Castle to address the annual gathering of the Irish diplomatic corps. And at first, it seemed hard to understand why he had bothered. His speech began with a corny story that Simon Coveney had told him about how he and his siblings were in the middle of the ocean on a sailing trip.

As a joke they sent out a message that they were having a birthday party and all nearby ships were welcome to join. But, said Maas, a German yacht heard the words "Irish" and "party" and suddenly appeared alongside them, bringing a keg of beer.

So far, so toe-curling: Ireland, parties, beer. Was this cliched stuff really worth getting out of bed so early for? Except that Maas then went on to make a passionate defence of the Irish backstop to the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, claiming the avoidance of a hard border not as an Irish issue but, remarkably, as "a question of identity for the European Union".

And in his peroration, the point of the cheesy story he had begun with was made clear: "When seas get rough, don't forget that a friendly German boat may be close. " His nautical metaphor acquired further resonance this week when floundering Brexiteers seized on Maas himself as the lifeboat coming to save them...

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It is hard to overstate the importance of this possibility in the minds of those who have driven the Brexit project. What they have always believed is that the EU is essentially a front for Germany. In the weird psychodrama that has been running in their heads, the Germans effectively reversed the result of the second World War.

The EU allowed them to do by economic and political means what they had failed to do by military means: dominate and control Britain. But this dark fantasy has in their minds a happy ending: since the Germans really run the EU, the whole tedious business of negotiating with Brussels is a sham. In the end the deal will be done in Berlin.

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So all Britain has to do is hold its nerve up to and beyond a no-deal exit. Then the Germans will understand that the British pluck that saw them off in 1945 is still alive. They will issue the appropriate orders to their minions to drop the backstop and give Britain all the benefits of EU membership with none of the burdens.



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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 20th, 2019 at 11:41:22 AM EST
And hard Brexiteers will be emboldened by the reports of German industry finally voicing its concerns (as they always said it would) reported in several UK papers and in Politico: Chaotic Brexit getting `dangerously close': German business group

Germany's BDI business group said Thursday it fears a "chaotic Brexit" is "dangerously close," and warned that such an outcome could dent German economic growth.

"A chaotic Brexit is now getting dangerously close to happening," BDI President Dieter Kempf said in Berlin. "Companies are looking into the abyss in these times."

and that the following also appeared in Politico - Merkel urges EU and UK to find Brexit compromise

"To the last day, I will work towards finding a treaty-based solution for a deal for the U.K.'s exit, and I will work towards having the best kind of relations afterward," she added.

"No Deal" is off the agenda on both sides of the channel, but not in Downing Street, nor in UK law as it currently stands?

by oldremainmer48 on Sun Jan 20th, 2019 at 12:19:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The hard Brexiters' belief that the German car industry will make the EU bend to their will has always been one of their central tenets, as you described about a year ago.

Actually, they believed that already before the 2016 referendum, even Cameron, as argued here.

The main lesson is that they've been constantly misreading Germany, and still do: I saw a bit of BoJo on TV essentially promising that Germany would blink on the brink. Germany's message has always been consistent and is not going to change at the last minute.

German industry cannot save Britain from hard Brexit, warns Merkel  - Torygraph - October 2016

German car makers and other major industrial lobbies will not be able to insist that Britain gets an easy deal in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, the German chancellor Angela Merkel has warned.

In a further hardening of the line against Britain, Mrs Merkel told the annual conference of German industrial federations, the BDI, that defending the principle of free movement and the internal cohesion of the European Union would come before defending German exports to the UK.

"If we don't say full access to the internal market is linked to full freedom of movement, then a movement will spread in Europe where everyone just does whatever they want," she told business leaders in Berlin.

by Bernard on Sun Jan 20th, 2019 at 06:08:08 PM EST
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