In front of a packed audience at the White Hart Hotel, Salisbury, one of Germany’s most experienced foreign policy thinkers – today, July 4, spoke of the intense negotiations that gave rise to the European Community in the first place.
In the city where former Prime Minister and Common Market negotiator Edward Heath spent his last days, the German ambassador, His Excellency Dr Peter Ammon, called for safeguarding friendship and co-operation in the midst of the complex Brexit negotiations that lie ahead.
He told the audience neither Germany nor other countries on the continent want Britain to leave but, be assured, there is no will among the 27, or in Berlin, to punish the UK.
“Our aim is to minimise the economic pain we expect on both sides. We have ongoing confusion about the form and shape Brexit will take. From our point of view, it makes things difficult – we see rather a melange of political, business and media views with conflicting agendas – it makes it difficult to read.
“In this country, there is a misunderstanding of the European position and the German position.
“We will try our best: this is a promise I can make here – we will try our best with whatever choices to make; we will be as close as possible, good partners in culture and defence and other fields we share. It is an outstretched hand I offer you.”
He stressed that what lay ahead was a long stretch of hard work.
“I mention (jus) aviation and pharmaceuticals, but it’s a long list of highly complicated areas (in which) we have to find ways to live together.
“We will not be able to paper over it. So many things can go wrong if you do not negotiate well enough. We can make so many mistakes, and as an economist, I would say we will all have a price to pay.
“Among the many things to miss after Brexit will be British rationality, your free market spirit and rights – all these will be harder for us to let go. We will really miss you.”
The event was organised by Arundells, the Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, and trustee Edward Bickham spoke of Edward Heath’s work to build reconciliation and co-operation between Britain and Europe.
Afterwards the Ambassador met students from Clayesmore School. He said: “They were well informed – I don’t remember being so well informed when I was 17.”