Friday, 1 September 2017

Fake Brexit: Is Britain heading for pseudo-independence from the EU?

On this week's podcast, we look at issues of national pride. Would a 'fake Brexit' be enough to satisfy British yearning for a feeling of sovereignty? And as the German election nears, what does a recent uproar about the use of English in Berlin say about the changing nature of German politics?

We were joined this week by blogger and long-time EU watcher Jon Worth, who believes the UK's 'charm offensive' over the past two weeks was actually the best chance the UK will have for the rest of the year to get the Brexit negotiations back on track.

But if it was the last chance, it didn't go well. In the end, it backfired spectacularly and the negotiations are nowhere closer to producing a tangible result.

It's now looking extremely unlikely that talks about Britain's post-Brexit relationship with the EU can begin in October as planned. If nothing has been agreed by the end of the year, what happens if the government panics? Might it go to the fastest and easiest option - joining the EEA?

Too much English in Berlin

In the second half of the podcast, we talk about the controversy that erupted in Germany this week after a CDU politician criticized Berliners for speaking too much English.

It's a long-running dispute in Berlin, in which certain neighborhoods like Neukolln and Prenzlauerberg have become notorious for having waiters and bartenders who don't speak German. 

Jens Spahn, the conservative politician from North Rhine-Westphalia who made the comments, is no old fogey. In fact he was the youngest person ever to enter to Bundestag when he took office at the age of 22. Now, at 37, he is an up-and-coming political star, taking a hard line on issues like immigration and welfare. He is even talked about as a possible future chancellor.

He is a new kind of German politician, unafraid of messages of patriotism and controversy, as evidenced by his comments deriding English in Berlin. Is this the future of German politics? We talk to Jon to get his opinion.

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