Hard Brexit

Brexit Is Punishment Enough For UK

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Peter Mandelson and Joschka Fischer insist that the EU could offer institutional compromise with post-Brexit Britain, if it chose to remain within the single market.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • A former close associate of Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson served as the European Union’s Trade Commissioner between 2004 and 2008.
    • A leading member of the Green party, Joschka Fischer served as Germany’s foreign minister and vice-chancellor between 1998 and 2005.
    • Formal negotiations on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union are set to begin in Brussels on June 19.
  • Audio

    Audio

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A perfect storm is brewing between London and Brussels. Source: Banksy/Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images.

Two veterans of European politics have warned that the EU can do little to save Britain from the consequences of a self-inflicted hard Brexit. Speaking to Handelsblatt in an exclusive joint interview, Joschka Fischer, a former German foreign minister, and Peter Mandelson, the former European trade commissioner, said that while they hoped to see Britain remain within the European single market, this seemed “highly unrealistic” under Prime Minister Theresa May.

The two men were leading figures of European liberalism in recent decades, deeply committed to the European project. Mr. Mandelson was a close ally of British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, while Mr. Fischer, as leader of the German Green party, helped bring it into the political mainstream. Discussing Brexit over lunch in a Berlin restaurant, their shared forebodings were clear, although Mr. Mandelson remained slightly more optimistic.

Both expressed concern over the tense exchanges between London and Brussels ahead of formal talks on British withdrawal from the European Union, which are due to begin next month. On the British side, Mr. Mandelson blamed British nationalist sentiment and a xenophobic press during an election campaign.

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