London – Despite reports in the British press that German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to make Britain “crawl across broken glass” rather than come to a Brexit trade deal, Germany appears not to have given up hope of a breakthrough.
Ulrich Hoppe, the head of the German-British Chamber of Commerce, said while there will be an “edge” when Britain leaves the bloc’s single market on January 1, it shouldn’t be a “cliff edge” so some necessary compromises need to be made.
“We need to have a ‘nice divorce’ so that we can move on and have closer links in the future as well,” he told the BBC.
“It’s 50/50 at the moment [in terms of getting a deal] and from my impression, Boris Johnson needs to sell it to his party and that is why we see a bit of grandstanding on the UK side.”
But he added that Brexit overall is “further down the agenda” in Germany as the trade surplus it has with Britain is around 50 billion euros (60.7 billion dollars), which is 1 per cent of Germany’s gross domestic product.
“If Germany’s GDP grows a bit more or a bit less, it’s not that important as it is the other way round,” he added.
In an apparent response to a comment in Britain’s Mail on Sunday where a source said she was “determined to make Britain crawl across broken glass rather than reach a compromise”, Merkel said on Sunday she was still keen for a trade deal to be reached before Britain exits the EU single market on January 1.
“Every opportunity to reach a deal is highly welcome,” she said at a news conference in Berlin.
Her comments have also been echoed by the German press – who say Berlin has secretly been helping ease tensions between Britain and the European Union.
Alexander von Schoenburg, editor-at-large at German newspaper Bild, said Germany’s EU ambassador had relayed a message from Berlin which helped talks continue beyond Sunday’s supposed deadline.
“Our foreign minister Heiko Maas insisted it was time to end the doctrinaire approach and ‘start looking for a political solution’,” he wrote in British newspaper the Daily Mail.
“If that meant talks had to go on beyond Sunday night, then so be it. As we have seen, his intervention proved decisive.”