Merkel still sees 'every chance' for an orderly Brexit

BERLIN • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday she believed an agreement could still be reached with Britain on an orderly exit from the European Union, pledging to fight for a deal.

Speaking to the Bundestag Lower House of Parliament, the German leader said there was still time to hammer out a workable accord.

"The EU will, in a few months, experience the exit of an important member, the exit of Britain," Dr Merkel said. "I am firmly convinced that we still have every chance to do it in an orderly way and the German government will work towards making this possible until the very last day."

However, she added that if the EU and Britain failed to agree on the terms for Brexit, Germany as the bloc's top economy was "prepared" for a disorderly divorce.

"But the fact remains that after the withdrawal of Britain, we have an economic competitor at our door, even if we want to keep close economic, foreign and security cooperation and friendly relations," she said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament on Tuesday, following a series of bruising clashes with MPs over his Brexit plan, but insisted he was making every effort to strike an exit deal with the EU.

As the planned departure date of Oct 31 looms, Mr Johnson said: "We're working very hard to get a deal. I think we will get a deal but if absolutely necessary, we will come out with no deal."

The Conservative leader has faced intense opposition in the House of Commons to his threat to leave the bloc without agreeing on exit terms with Brussels.

Before he suspended Parliament, MPs rushed through legislation requiring Mr Johnson to postpone Brexit by three months if he fails to secure a deal at an EU summit on Oct 17 and 18.

Dr Merkel has repeatedly expressed concerns that a no-deal exit could deal a body blow to the European economy, with a recession already looming.

But she has stressed that the integrity of the EU is too important to sacrifice core principles for the sake of a deal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2019, with the headline 'Merkel still sees 'every chance' for an orderly Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe