Observers across Europe and the world were shocked when British voters decided in June 2016 to leave the European Union. Since the Brexit decision, British politics have been in disarray and the government’s incoherent negotiation positions have created much economic and political uncertainty. Germans and others have had to formulate policy based on assumptions and predictions. Despite slightly different emphases, all mainstream German parties have endorsed a harder line rejecting British efforts to cherry pick the most desirable aspects of a relationship with the eu. This stance accords with the preferences of European Union actors and the vast majority of member states. Moreover, the likely effects on the German economy will not be catastrophic. Thus, as much as Germans prefer that the uk remain in the eu, there is also little desire to accommodate British demands—and there may even be a sense of relief.
Eric Langenbacher is a Teaching Professor and Director of Honors and Special Programs in the Department of Government, Georgetown University, where he completed his PhD in 2002. Recent publications include The German Polity, 11th edition (co-authored with David Conradt, 2017), The Merkel Republic: An Appraisal (edited volume, 2015), and Dynamics of Memory and Identity in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Ruth Wittlinger and Bill Niven (paperback 2015).