Basel – For the German political and business elite, Britain is a strong ally for being a bit sensible, not going crazy with European integration and expansion – but also holding up the liberal ideas of the market. I was working for German [manufacturing] companies where the main revenue came from abroad, which has influenced me. It’s really important to have a way of trading in an easy way. I personally think that if Britain leaves, the forces that would tear Europe apart will get even stronger – all the other countries will use this as an example, as bargaining power. I think from a German perspective, it would be a bit of a disaster.
When I grew up, from school books, the EU was always a big thing, we understood from the beginning that we are part of one system, that we all need to work together … When I was 17 or 18 when we changed to the Euro, there was this really strong belief, because of our history, because of the benefits, that this is the right way, and for me (and maybe I’m speaking for my generation) it’s really shocking to see that some of these mechanisms don’t work.. the economic crisis is not solved.. it’s a massive death of illusion for a generation that was so behind it.
So I would like Britain to stay, but in the second after a Leave vote, I would laugh and I would smile – I would say to Merkel, ‘look, that’s what you’ve achieved.’ The guys on top lost connection with us at the bottom. The political elite – and I think it’s the same in Britain – they say we need to stay in this union, because otherwise there will be danger. But please, explain this to me? Explain why? There’s so much effort in Germany in dismissing the AFD [populist Alternative for Germany party], but what they don’t do is make their arguments accessible to normal people.