BRITAIN and Germany are on a collision course. Respective leaders Theresa May and Angela Merkel gave forceful speeches on what Brexit should mean for their countries which, taken to their logical conclusion, would suggest a comprehensive, and acrimonious, divorce.
At the Conservative party conference May gave a rousing populist speech to members, describing the referendum result as a “quiet revolution” where “people voted for change”. Central to that change will be immigration reform, which May made clear was the chief motivation for the majority of pro-Brexit voters.
Divisions remain in the party. Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced plans to “name and shame” businesses that don’t take on British staff, while Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson told immigrant workers “this is your home” and welcomed their social and economic impact.
In Germany Angela Merkel told business leaders that the EU could not allow any exceptions to single market rules, which hinge on accepting the free movement of peoples. Allowing the UK to curb immigration while retaining single market access would represent “a systemic challenge for the entire European Union” she told the influential conference.
Industry leaders have made it clear that Germany considers its trade with the wider 27-member bloc to be far more important than bilateral business with the UK. Merkel urged all business leaders to “support the principle of “full access to the single market only in exchange for signing up to the four freedoms”.