18, January 2019
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s protégé has appealed to Britain not to leave the European Union (EU) as the clock is ticking down to Brexit in 70 days.
German conservative leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeds Merkel as leader of the Christian Democrats, joined a dozen of German politicians, industrialists and artists, appealing to the UK not to leave the union.
“Britons should know: from the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay,” said the letter, which was published in The Times newspaper. “Without your great nation, this continent would not be what it is today.”
“Should Britain wish to leave the European Union for good, it will always have friends in Germany and Europe,” it added.
“After the horrors of the Second World War, Britain did not give up on us. It has welcomed Germany back as a sovereign nation and a European power,” said the letter.
The move is considered as a major U-turn in Berlin’s policy after Merkel said earlier this week that there would be “no renegotiation” in a new deal between the union and the UK.
The chancellor will leave power in 2021, with Kramp-Karrenbauer taking over as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany. She warned on Wednesday that “for me, it is clear that there cannot be any renegotiation.”
Merkel made the remarks to the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee immediately after May’s Withdrawal Agreement was historically voted out on Tuesday.
Lawmakers roundly rejected the deeply-contested Brexit deal that May had negotiated with the EU.
The lawmakers, who want either a further referendum or a softer version of the exit, are trying to stop Brexit altogether or to leave without a deal.
The prime minister, who narrowly won a no- confidence vote on Wednesday, called on all parties to “focus on finding a way forward on Brexit.”
The defeat of the departure agreement can lead to a disorderly exit from the EU or even a reversal of the 2016 EU referendum, where 52 percent of Britons voted in favor of Brexit.
There are 70 days left before Brexit, but May has not rejected holding talks on extending the negotiating period beyond the current departure date of March 29.