+++ Brexit crisis: Germany and Europe react — as it happened +++ | News | DW | 17.01.2019
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+++ Brexit crisis: Germany and Europe react — as it happened +++

The British Prime Minister is still in office after surviving a no-confidence vote in her government. But Germany and the rest of Europe are deeply worried about the increased likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.

Today's main reactions: 

  • Germany's Foreign Office vows to protect German citizens and businesses from a no-deal Brexit.
  • France activates its no-deal Brexit plans.
  • Germany's biggest industry association says German "companies are currently looking into the abyss."

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

18:45 Thank you for following DW's live coverage of the ongoing Brexit crisis. This concludes our coverage for now, but we will keep you updated with the latest developments as they emerge.

18:30 The former head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has advocated for a second Brexit referendum in an opinion piece for the Dutch-language version of the Financial Times

"And the question is, what now? If parliament doesn't get out of this, the voters will have to be asked sooner or later. The idea that this would be undemocratic — by ignoring the first referendum — is absurd reasoning," he wrote.

17:30  With the clock continuing to tick down and no meeting in sight between Theresa May and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, the prime minister wrote to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to meet her for talks. In a letter, May wrote that she'd be "happy to discuss" his proposals.

May added that she could not meet Corbyn's demand to rule out a no-deal Brexit because "it is not within the government's power to rule out no deal." She wrote that in order to avoid that scenario, Parliament must either approve a withdrawal agreement with the EU or "overturn the referendum result" — which she ruled out as an option.

16:15 Theresa May will no longer be going to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum next week in order to focus on Brexit negotiations, Downing Street has said. The spokeswoman added that May has held "constructive" talks with British lawmakers and she is due to speak with other EU leaders over the next few days.

15:50 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned against a no-deal Brexit, saying that the option poses the biggest risk to Britain's economy. "Leaving without a withdrawal agreement and a framework for the future relationship with the EU is the most significant near-term risk to the UK economy," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters.

14:42 Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche has said that a no-deal Brexit would hurt the Mercedes-maker's business in Britain. "It would have very negative consequences, especially for the automotive industry," he said in Berlin.

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14:40 The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, says the EU would consider a new Brexit deal that goes beyond free trade. "If they [Britain] tell us they want a more ambitious relationship, we are open," he said in Lisbon.

14:03 The German Bundestag has passed a law that would treat Britain as an EU member for two years after it exits the bloc on March 29. But the law is tied to the withdrawal agreement that British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected on Tuesday. Alexander Lambsdorff from the Free Democrats (FDP) said the deal's dismissal made the German law "completely obsolete."

13:34 British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has published a letter reiterating his call for Theresa May to rule out a no-deal Brexit and discuss Labour proposals that would keep Britain closer to the EU after Brexit. "Labour is open to meaningful discussions," he says in the letter posted on Twitter.

13:29 The German Foreign Office says it is prepared for any Brexit outcome. "We will intensify our preparations for a disorderly Brexit and want to protect our citizens and companies from the negative effects as far as possible."

12:50 The European Commission is planning to send experts to the capitals of the remaining 27 EU member states to harmonize the bloc's no-deal Brexit preparations, a Commission spokesperson said. "We take the possibility of a no-deal Brexit very seriously," they added.

12:14 A lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is itself flirting with the idea of a German exit from the EU, responded to Maas' speech by partially blaming the European Commission for the Brexit chaos. Speaking in the Bundestag, Martin Hebner also took a shot at EU civil servants: "Many in our country are, like us, not opponents of Europe. We're against the EU bureaucracy."

Watch video 26:05

Brexit: No Way Out of the Chaos?

12:05 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told lawmakers in the Bundestag that Britain still needs to tell the EU what exactly it wants. "The time for games is up," he said. "The ball is now in Britain's court."

11:48 Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, says Theresa May would need to rule out a no-deal Brexit if she wants him to discuss new Brexit proposals with her. He also says Labour are open to supporting a second referendum: "If the government remains intransigent, if support for Labour's alternative is blocked for party advantage and the country is facing the potential disaster of no deal, our duty will then be to look at other options ... including that of a public vote."

11:40 German broadcaster ARD posted a video on Twitter of John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, repeatedly shouting "Order!" ahead of yesterday's vote of no-confidence. The clip has proved quite a hit in a country not accustomed to the theatrics of British politics.

11:28 A spokeswoman for the European Commission says it has so far received no application from Britain to extend Britain's departure date later than March 29.

11:04 A YouGov poll commissioned by the People's Vote, which supports a second referendum, shows 48 percent of British respondents would vote to remain, 38 would leave, 6 would not vote and 7
percent would be undecided if another referendum were held. The result for remain is the highest since the June 2016 referendum.

10:51 Need a refresher on what's happened in the past few days? Check out DW's coverage on Theresa May surviving a no-confidence vote on Wednesday and the British parliament resoundingly rejecting her draft withdrawal agreement.

09:42 French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has activated the government's no-deal Brexit plan. This includes investing €50 million ($57 million) in ports and airports to mitigate post-Brexit disruption in foreign trade.

09:35 Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, says both sides could agree on a broader deal if London became more flexible. "If [Britain's red lines] change, we'll change," told Portuguese lawmakers in Lisbon.

09:16 Baffled by Brexit? Check out DW's Max Hoffman explainer:

09:11 The Federation of German Industries (BDI) says a disorderly no-deal Brexit could hurt German growth in 2019. "A chaotic Brexit is now moving into dangerous proximity," BDI President Dieter Kempf said. "Companies are currently looking into the abyss."

09:03 DW's Barbara Wesel says Theresa May has repeatedly "beat her head against the wall" while trying to form a Brexit deal that could placate hard-liners in her Conservative Party. Now, she's trying to get opposition support to break the impasse in the British parliament.

Read more: Brexit vote defeat increases no-deal fears for UK car industry

08:58 Early trading suggests investors are relatively unfazed by recent Brexit developments:

  • London's FTSE 100 was down 0.4 percent
  • Germany's DAX fell 0.7 percent
  • France's CAC 40 shed 0.6 percent

08:42 French newspaper L'Opinion says Brexit proves that referendums are not always a great way to settle big political debates: "This great nation, Britain, proves that a referendum cannot be the only answer to the crisis of representative democracy."

Read more: Germany pledges full EU support for Ireland over Brexit

08:34 Spain's Corriere della Sera newspaper has some harsh words for Britain's political elite: "We've always thought that having a capable class of political leaders was an enviable characteristic of the UK. But those leaders lost their ability to act after the [2016] referendum and now just seem like an old club of superfluous eccentrics."

08:25 Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende says Britain threatens to upend the European Economic Area (EEA) if it joined the organization. The EEA gives its non-EU members — Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland — access to the EU's single market. "It's not in Norway's interest to get Britain to join the EEA," the newspaper says in an editorial.

Read more: Berlin assures Britons ahead of Brexit

08:21 Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says it's inevitable that London will have to delay Brexit. Britain is currently on course to leave on March 29. "If I was the government now, I would already be having discussions with Europe about the terms of an extension," Blair told the BBC.

08:16 A video of French President Emmanuel Macron expressing his views on Brexit has spread quickly on social media. "We've reached our limits with the deal, and we won't, just to solve Britain's domestic political issues, stop defending European interests," he says to a crowd in France.

08:09 What do ordinary Germans think about the Brexit shenanigans in Britain? DW asked some people in Berlin for their opinion:

07:53 Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, is set to vote on a Brexit law later today. The bill aims to provide clarity on how Britain's departure from the EU affects German law and the status of British citizens living and working in Germany.

07:47 German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told broadcaster WDR that there was still a chance for both sides to agree on an orderly Brexit.

Read more: Opinion: Brexit likely to be Britain's greatest disaster

07:22 German Justice Minister Katarina Barley has told German public broadcaster NDR that Britain should hold a second referendum. Barley, whose father is British, is the lead candidate for the Social Democrats (SPD) in this year's European elections. "I think a referendum is fundamentally the right course," she said.

Watch video 01:46

Brexit chaos drives Brits crazy

07:12 Speaking to German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, the lead candidate for the conservative European People's Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, directed comments to London, saying: "Finally tell us what you want. Only then will we be ready to enter talks [with you]."

07:06 Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper says in an editorial that the European project has "lost" Britain. "The EU must think of itself first and foremost now," it said.

Read more: EU lawmakers urge Britain to call off Brexit

07:00 The Brexit drama continues Thursday after opposition parties failed to bring down British Prime Minister's Conservative government in a confidence vote last night. Germany and the rest of Europe are baffled by Britain's political wranglings and anxious about what comes next. DW will bring you all of the latest right here.

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