‘Lots to offer’ Brexit Britain holds trump card over Germany in key leverage power play
Gibraltar: Morton discusses priorities in post-Brexit relations
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After the UK left the EU on January 1, both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have spoke of a “willingness” to strengthen ties between Germany and Britain. Now, an expert suggested Britain could partner with Germany on foreign policy, saying the UK can help the “unsure” Berlin.
Christian Odendahl, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform think tank, said Britain can offer Germany security from neighbouring threats.
He believes the increasing assertiveness of Russia, China and Turkey offers an opportunity for an improved relationship between Britain and Germany.
He added: “The most constructive Britain is on the foreign and security policy side, the better the relationship will be, because that’s one of the issues that Germany’s unsure how to deal with and fix.
“This is where Germany’s concerns are and where London has quite a bit to offer.”
In April, Germany called for closer cooperation with France in light of the tense security situation in Europe marked by the Russian “threat”, the rise of China and spreading “Islamist terrorism” in the Sahel region.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said at the time China is “the most difficult strategic challenge in the long term” for Europe despite being an “absolute necessity” to meet the major challenges of our time, including global warming.
A German official told Politico in September: “It would be incredibly powerful if we could combine our positions.
“The UK and Germany are like-minded on a very wide range of issues.”
When Ms Merkel met with Mr Johnson at Downing Street in July, the outgoing Chancellor signalled a willingness to strengthen German relations with the UK.
She said Germany is “very willing” to work on “a friendship treaty or cooperation agreement” with London, calling for that to reflect “the entire bandwidth of relations.”
Ms Merkel then said: “I would like us to work very closely together in the economic area, in the energy area and of course in the cultural area — above all, I would like the contacts between our young people not to fall asleep. Because the [EU’s mobility] Erasmus program no longer exists, there is a danger and we have to find other formats.”
However, the Chancellor also warned closer relations between Germany and the UK hinge on Britain resolving its row with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
She said at the time: “From the German side, we always see ourselves as part of the EU.
“And now I think the next step is to settle the issues of the Northern Ireland protocol in such a way that everyone can live with it and everyone can protect their interests.”
Speaking to Politico, Mr Odendahl said the UK’s best route to improving relations with Germany would be to resolve the post-Brexit dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He told the outlet: “Every German chancellor of any coalition would say, ‘let’s fix this Brexit and trade issue and come to a stable and trustworthy relationship and then we can talk’.
“So the best the UK can do to improve the relationship with Germany is to fix the conflict with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol.
“If anything, Brexit has reinforced the tendency of German parties to agree on the EU, because Britain’s exit has meant that Germany is even more in the position of compromise seeker.”
It comes as German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass blamed “resentment on the French side” over Brexit Britain’s nuclear deal with Australia and the US for a breakdown of a key meeting.
On September 15, London, Washington and Canberra agreed the AUKUS pact, which sees the UK and US help Australia construct nuclear-powered submarines.
The deal’s announcement caused anger in France as it led to the end of the nation’s own deal with Australia, worth £27billion (31.5million euros).
Mr Mass said: “There is resentment on the French side, which I can understand well.
“Some things need to be straightened out there before you can sit down in such a format.”
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