Reforming Europe

Germans for Brexit?

leave demo getty pictures
If they could vote, a few Germans would also like to see Britain leave the European Union.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    There are those in Germany who are hoping the shock of a break-up will have a long-awaited cleansing effect, forcing long overdue reforms that make the European Union more responsive to voters.

  • Facts


    • Britain will go to the polls on Thursday to decide whether or not to remain a part of the 28 nation European Union.
    • A YouGov poll last month found that 52 percent of Germans want Britain to stay in the European Union, compared to just 26 percent that would prefer them to leave.
    • Britain’s financial contribution to the European Union was about 13 billion pounds in 2015, second only to Germany
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They may be few in numbers but they do exist – the Germans who want Britain to leave the European Union.

“The sworn horror scenarios are nonsense. If the Brits want to leave the E.U., they should go,” Nikolaus Doll, editor of German daily Die Welt wrote this month. “An exit of Great Britain is not a catastrophe for Europe but a salvation. A Brexit could even strengthen the union.”

While a majority of Germans support Britain in the European Union, Mr. Doll is part of the minority that believes Britain’s exit could actually benefit the bloc by helping its remaining nations grow closer together.

The European Union, most in this group agree, is in crisis. Getting rid of the detractors might be the only way to keep the European Union’s core afloat. The European Union might also be able to use the shock of Britain’s exit to finally agree a series of much-needed reforms to make it more responsive to voter concerns.

It’s a question that Lenny Fischer has struggled with for much of the past year: “For a very long time, I have been pro-Brexit,” the German banking executive, until recently head of BHF Kleinwort Benson Group, admitted at a Handelsblatt Global Edition event in London Tuesday night.

Yet as the day of the referendum nears, Mr. Fischer said he’s having something of a change of heart.

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