The campaign, called ‘Exit from Brexit with a New Deal for Britain and the EU’, was launched by Henreich Weiss, Michael Rogowski and Hans-Olaf Henkel, three former BDI Presidents – the equivalent of the British CBI – who share the “goal to prevent Brexit”.
Mr Henkel compared the campaign to the Battle of Britain at a press conference in Berlin.
He said: “This reminded me of the Battle of Britain, but I think this campaign is the battle for Britain.”
The drive is part of a Europe-wide effort to persuade Brussels to offer a new deal and for UK politicians to reverse the 2016 referendum result in a way that allows MPs to “save face”.
A campaign designed to thwart Brexit was launched by German economists today
With a new deal for Britain, the British Government would not only have the face-saving opportunity to call Brexit off, it could also credibly assert that with such a deal Britain got what it always wanted: more autonomy over immigration
The trio cite European Parliament President Donald Tusk’s claim last month that there is a possibility of “no Brexit”.
In a statement, the campaigners said: “With a new deal for Britain, the British Government would not only have the face-saving opportunity to call Brexit off, it could also credibly assert that with such a deal Britain got what it always wanted: more autonomy over immigration.”
They added there are “plenty of examples” of referendums on European issues which were “overturned once the circumstances changed”.
The economists claimed the “reality” of Brexit is finally coming true, which they said is a “lose-lose” situation.
Henreich Weiss said the European Union is moving towards a ‘United States of Europe’
Mr Rogowski said: “Even if an agreement is reached and an extended transitional period is granted, Brexit is bound to become a lose-lose situation.
“Therefore, rather than focusing only on Brexit negotiations, we should make every effort to avert it.”
The economists said Brexit will also be detrimental to member states because the bloc will lose a “pragmatic voice to counter the increasing pressure to centralise, socialise and harmonise” the European Union.
Mr Weiss said the European Union is moving towards a “United States of Europe”, but it is not the right time for ever-closer union.
Michael Rogowski said Brexit is bound to become a lose-lose situation
Referring to EU officials, he added: “The official voices of the Industry Association are too ideological, it is not the right time to go towards a more unified state.
“The Euro created more conflicts, member states want autonomy over their finances and the single currency just creates more pressure.”
The economists also blame Brussels for violating the principles of self-responsibility and competitiveness of the Lisbon Treaty.
They claimed the EU’s refusal to offer flexibility to allow Britain to control immigration in the UK is one of the factors which led to the EU referendum.
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But they also said the Brexit campaign failed to communicate the “true impact” Britain’s divorce from Brussels would have on the economy, while the Remain campaign did not communicate the advantages of being part of the EU, “especially the common market and research programmes”.
They compared the impact of Brexit to a train wreck and that a transitional deal will only delay a “tragedy”.
Mr Henkel said: “We feel obliged to stop two high-speed trains running towards each other on the same railroad track and appeal to all responsible politicians, business people and citizens. Help us avoid a tragedy of historical dimensions.”
There is also concern that Germany will have to pay more into the European Union budget to make up for the shortfall caused by the UK’s departure.
But, although they asserted Brexit will be a disaster, they did not explicitly say what the economic implications will be – only that business leaders “agree” with their position.
The campaign focuses more on giving the UK autonomy over its borders to control immigration, while the economists said there is a new shift in policy across Europe which is moving towards tighter border control.
They said if Brussels gave Britain more control, the UK will be persuaded to remain in the EU.
The campaign also fails to address other aspects of EU membership which the referendum was fought on, such as democracy.
When asked about how the new deal for the UK would address the democratic deficit within the EU, Mr Henkel said: “Look, I have been in this debate from the very beginning. I’m very much in favour of Britain remaining in the EU, but I was very outspoken in making sure that politicians accept the vote of the British people.
Hans-Olaf Henkel compared the campaign to the Battle of Britain
“I have defended the British position in the European Parliament. So, I think we have a good record to ensure that first and foremost the wish of the voters is respected.
“The real impact of Brexit is becoming visible to the British population only now and so why then should not British politicians say, ‘Wait a minute, the situation is not as it was then’. Maybe that is the most important aspect.”
He added that at the time of the referendum, it was only Britain who was asking for tighter border controls, but now other countries such as Denmark and Holland are too.
He continued: “Even the moral champion of the world Sweden closed its borders to refugees. Let me remind you that the German refugee policy has totally changed.”