Merkel and Brexit

Kevin Drum:

For all the praise she gets, Angela Merkel has been one of the most disastrous European leaders in my lifetime. She's as responsible for Brexit as anyone I can think of, thanks to two catastrophic decisions she made.

The first was her insistence on punishing Greece following its collapse after the Great Recession. There's plenty of blame to go around on all sides for the Greece debacle, but as the continent's economic leader Germany held most of the high cards during negotiations over Greece's fate. Merkel had a choice: (a) punish Greece for running up unsustainable debts and lying about them, or (b) accept thatGermany bore much of the blame itself for the crisis and that Greece had no way of rescuing itself thanks to the straitjacket of the common currency. The former was a crowd pleaser. The latter was unpopular and would have required sustained, iron-spined leadership. In the event, Merkel chose to play to the crowds, and Greece has been a basket case ever since—with no end in sight. It hardly went unnoticed in Britain how Europe treated a country that was too entangled with the EU to either fight back or exit, and it made Britain's decision to forego the common currency look prescient. And if that had been a good choice, maybe all the rest of "ever closer union" wasn't such a great idea either.

Merkel's second bad decision was more recent. Here is David Frum: "If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany—and then all Europe—to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants, with uncountable millions more to come." It's hard to fault Merkel for this on a humanitarian basis, but on a political basis it was a disaster. The barely-controlled wave of refugees Merkel encouraged has caused resentment and more all over Europe, and it unquestionably played a big
role in the immigrant backlash in Britain that powered the Leave vote.

4 thoughts on “Merkel and Brexit

  1. So, three things contributed to Brexit, did they?

    1) financial bulldozing (Merkel)

    2) population bulldozing (Merkel)

    3) a watchful eye and a bit of olde-fashioned patriotism (GB)

    As in:

    Rule Britannia!
    Britannia rule the waves.
    Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

    We northern Germans do have: “Lewer düad us Slav!”, but what an alternative…


  2. An interesting post.

    I think there’s a lot of truth to what you say. Speaking as an Englishman who knew one or two people involved in the Remain campaign, there was definitely a sense that the referendum needed to be held as soon as possible. The fear was that is it was postponed until the summer of 2017 then the public would be subjected to another year of news stories about hundreds of thousands of refugees and immigrants arriving in Italy and Greece and making their way to Germany. There was a palpable sense that Dr Merkel’s policies were terrifying British voters and would make a Brexit more and more likely the longer they went on.

    Best wishes from London,



  3. In the article, it said ” It’s hard to fault Merkel for this on a humanitarian basis, but on a political basis it was a disaster. ”
    Actually, I will fault Merkel on this on a humanitarian basis. Aren’t the people of Europe also humans? Aren’t the German citizens that put her in office humans? The Germans and other Europeans are who are going to have to carry the burden of these millions of people who don’t speak the language, don’t share the culture, mostly don’t have marketable skills, commit thousands of sexual assaults, etc.
    The first job of a leader of a nation is to safeguard that nation. Period.
    Of course, she thinks she’s a leader of a country and / or a continent, not understanding that geography is not the same as culture.
    So she is not acting in a humanitarian way. The kindest action would have been to find actions to take that would let these people start fixing their own countries.


  4. Other Britains tell us otherwise. Brexit has little to do with Merkel’s handling of the “refugee crisis”. The English have been concerned with East European immigrants for long, less with the refugees (migrants) from 2015/2016.

    Anyway, Germany has to follow its own path with regard to certain questions. Always keeping in mind how the English will react would be ridiculous.


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