Top German conservative partly blames Germany and EU for Brexit

Brussels: Berlin and Brussels should share some of the blame for Brexit, German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Friedrich Merz said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the leader of Germany’s main opposition party hinted the former German chancellor — fellow Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, although he did not mention her by name — could have done more to help the U.K.’s then-Prime Minister David Cameron win the vote.

“I remember that David Cameron asked for changes to EU social policy and came back to London empty-handed,” Merz said, adding that “the continental Europeans were not entirely blameless when it came to Brexit.”
“We lost patience with the special role that Britain always played in European politics. We didn’t do enough to help them come to a different referendum result,” he said.

In January 2020, the U.K. left the EU after a contentious referendum in June 2016, which the Leave campaign won by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

Merz, whose center-right CDU is flying high in opinion polls, added he wanted closer ties between the U.K. and the EU.

“We have a plethora of opportunities, at least in foreign and defense policy, that we should explore together,” he said. “We Germans have a huge strategic interest in keeping the UK closely engaged in Europe.”