Blog: Brexit Britain may soon have a new best friend in Germany –

John Seymour Chaloner, a 21-year-old major in the Westminster Dragoons, commandeered offices and recruited an ex-Wehrmacht radio operator called Rudolf Augstein to create an unfettered weekly news review.

Chaloner put up with the unvarnished reporting even when an early edition accused the British authorities of providing starvation rations to workers in the Ruhr. The story caused a storm in London but tolerance of criticism ultimately prevailed. What became Der Spiegel Magazine was launched under German control in 1947.

The Americans also moved crabwise toward reconciliation but with a lag, while the French resisted for longer. It was the British who pushed for the revival of German industry at key talks in January 1946. “They were the most liberal and led the way,” said Dr Knowles.

It would be a stretch to describe Armin Laschet as a committed Anglophile. The Christian Democrat candidate is a deal-maker at heart who likes to keep the lines open to everybody, including Vladimir Putin. “He hails from Achen (Charlemagne’s lair) and will always put the Franco-German relationship first when push comes to shove,” said Holger Schmieding from Berenberg Bank.

Yet Mr Laschet gave a striking answer when asked in the first presidential TV debate which country should be the primordial partner for the European Union. “We must do everything we can to keep the British very, very close alongside us,” he said.

You could say this is an implicit recognition that the EU mishandled Brexit negotiations, more or less forcing the UK into a hard Brexit by insisting on dynamic legal alignment and sweeping oversight for the European Court as a sine qua non for basic free trade.

His chief wrath is instead directed at states that remain in the EU, eagerly spend hand-outs from Brussels (ie, from German taxpayers), while ignoring the rules of the EU game when it suits them. The British may have been prickly but they did not abuse the system in such a way.

When Green candidate Annalena Baerbock was asked the same question on foreign policy, her Pavlovian non-sequitur response was to agitate for more “Europe”, which captures a fundamental difference in ideology. She is a reflexive supranationalist. There is little place for the democratic nation state in her philosophy.

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