Peter Wittig, who worked as German ambassador to the UK from July 2018-April 2020, has criticised the British Government for failing to understand how the EU works. He suggested Brexiteers were naive to believe that the fate of Brexit would lie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel – a leading figure within the bloc.
Mr Wittig made the comments in an interview with German news site Der Spiegel, which translates to The Mirror, where he discussed his experiences in Britain.
The former diplomat was asked whether Brexiteers were right to believe that “the fate of Brexit would be in Angela Merkel’s hands, which, under pressure from the German auto industry, would give in”.
In response, Mr Wittig appeared to hit out at the UK and accused Britain of failing to understand how the EU works.
He said: “Of course Germany is one of the most important member states of the EU, and of course the Chancellor has a great influence on the future relationship between the EU and Great Britain.
After the meeting, a Number 10 spokesman said Mr Johnson “welcomed the agreement to intensify talks in July”.
He added that Mr Johnson had used the meeting to reiterate that the UK Government “does not believe it makes sense for there to be prolonged negotiations into the autumn”.
Mr Wittig is hopeful that a trade deal will be reached by the end of the year.
He told the German news site: “The likelihood that the negotiation will still be successful is greater than that of failure.”
He also urged the EU not to be “so smug towards Britain”.
The former German ambassador said: “Make no mistake, this is a country with an incredibly innovative spirit and a great willingness to take risks.
“They will certainly face difficult years, but I do not believe in Britain’s natural decline, not even after the final exit from the EU.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg