Brexit: A British conductor explains what Germans feel

The Berlin-based baroque conductor Joolz Gale has taken to the Spectator’s blog to tell us how all this is going down in the Merkel-Bunker:

The Germans have been very good to me as a musician in Berlin over the past decade. But on Brexit, I am reminded that I am still deeply British. In recent weeks I have had a series of informal meetings and discussions with parliamentarians and officials on all political sides in Berlin. From those conversations, what’s clear is that the Germans think the British people want to remain in the EU but they just do not realise it yet. This explains the messy negotiations, the chaos of which (the Germans hope) will persuade the UK to change its mind. There is zero respect for the British position right now (although Theresa May’s embarrassing antics are not exactly helping) and zero understanding of why Brits might vote to leave.

But we have to see where this approach comes from. First, the culture of discourse and debate in Germany is not like in the UK (which is why people here view the mess of the House of Commons with contempt rather than with admiration for a healthy democracy). Germans fear that the forceful expression of opinion can be deemed dangerously persuasive, especially when charismatic rhetoric can so easily manipulate the emotions of listeners….

Read on here.

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  • After reading the whole piece …. Funny how he writes about the German religiosity for the EU without a hint of irony given the brexiteers with their cult lie belief in brexit maybe he realises that’s the difference between brain washing rather than religious fervour?

    • Indeed. Also why he isn’t considering that a huge amount of eurosceptics not only in the UK, but in whole Europe and even in Germany are asking the very same thing, but about the ones that still believes EU is the salvation. If they believe chaos is happening in the UK, so what word they are using to describe Macron situation in France?

      • Because we don’t, obviously. Most people will find something about day to day politcs they don’t like, but there are very few who believe that the EU is responsible.
        On the contrary, most of us simply are delighted about the way the EU makes life easier, especially for those living in border regions. Living in the Netherlands working in Germany, living (as Polish families) in German villages working in Poland, holidaying in France and Spain without thinking about different currencies, studying in Hungary and spending weekends in Bulgaria, living in Belgium and being invited by your health insurance to visit a German university clinic because there is the nearest specialist for your illness – believe me, nobody who has experienced this will ever want to get back behind their walls.
        And believe me: all of us are still Dutch, Austrian, Polish or German – we are secure in our national identity, are you?

      • What’s happening in France is so,ething very different: it is the normal country’s theatrical tradition of rebelling against the king.

        • “theatrical”?

          “Theatrical” implies play acting. There’s nothing “theatrical” about it, the French actually did get rid of their king.

          Something the Brits (and the Dutch) have yet to accomplish.

          Unless by “theatrical” you mean “dramatic”, as in guillotining off their heads, but if that be theatre, it’s the theatre of the macabre.

          Something not recommended for the Brits (or the Dutch): phasing out the monarchy as the current heads naturally die off is far more acceptable today.

  • Sitting in hotel in Ascona on Lago Maggiore and watched on CNN a Scottish MP threaten secession so that Scotland can remain in the EU.

    • The usual hot air from professional separatists at the SNP? Recent polls haven’t given any evidence that ordinary folk in Scotland want independence from the UK any more than they did last time they were asked.

    • This very MP was already doing the same “threaten” in 2014, much time before Brexit. No need to say, loses both referendums. So, it is not a threaten, It isn’t also about Brexit but a chance to bring back old desires. They would need another Referendum and only God again knows the results. Another lose would be more disastrous now, than a victory that open request for the final third round as we all know.

    • Oh, yes, you’ll get a well-balanced and accurate view of the world from CNN.

      Wider reading required; 2/10.

  • The issues concerning the EU have little to do with a religious view by the Germans. Germany’s bitch-slapping of Greece was hardly a religious affair. The problem is that the Maastricht Treaty which defined the EU ecomony was centered on flawed neoliberal economic concepts. The treaty allows an EU technocracy of financial elites to circumvent democracy. This system greatly favors Germany and the economy here is bursting its seams while much of the rest of Europe is being impoverished. Rather than abandon Europe, the UK should remain and work together with France and Italy to revoke Maastricht and write a new economic treaty for the EU. It would be a difficult battle.
    Germany knows full well the advantages it gains with Maastricht and will vigorously oppose change. We would quickly see that Germany’s view of the EU is not religious at all, but deeply rooted in material gain.

    This article in the Independent outlines the Maastricht problems very well:

    • Your first three sentences are spot-on. Revoking Maastricht is a fond dream, however. The EU elites just sit in the wings and laugh while grinding down nation states’ aspirations for freedom. The peons are stupid dolts who have to be told by their betters in Brussels what is good for them.

      Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 but was made to vote again. Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty in 2001, but, like Denmark, was forced to vote again. Both France and Holland rejected the EU Constitution in 2005. That was replaced by the almost identical Lisbon Treaty in 2008. Neither French nor Dutch voters were allowed to vote on Lisbon. Ireland did reject Lisbon but, of course, the Irish people were made to vote again.

    • There’s a different between having an opinion and comprehending, you know.

      Having an opinion is easy: As you’ve showed us so willingly, there’s no requirements to have one.

      Comprehending needs a little more knowledge of what you’re talking about. (Now you might say: “But I have little knowledge!” And you’d be right.)

    • Agreed – apart from the last sentence: it is not the material gain which is priority, I believe, but being embedded in the EU. It is a national achievement that Germany is economically so powerful, and not some kind of evil plan to secretly dominate Europe. They gave-up their currency at a moment when this obviously appeared to be quite a risk. But there is no doubt anywhere with any sane person that the EU has to be reformed, its structure seems to be outdated and socially and democratically unfair. So, the idea that it were better if the UK were to remain in the EU and, together with Germany and France (at least) would embark upon a reform, would have been better than a brexit. But that is theory by now.

  • It’s quite simple really. Britain pays about 13 billion GBP into the EU budget but gets only 4 billion GBP out. Those sucking on the teat of the latter subsidies from the EU — many university academics and others living on public money — want to stay in.

    They are joined by globalist elites and other collectivists who despise self-confident independent nation states beyond measure and want a one-world government.

    Those in Britain who have to work for a meagre living in the rapidly disappearing middle class no longer wish to pay the former amount for an army of bureaucrats and the unelected Politburo in Brussels (who incidentally treat Theresa May like s**t) and want to get out of the EU.

    The objective of the EU elites is political union, which benefits the Germans exclusively as it has the largest economy. And they want Britain’s money. So don’t expect any objective discussion from them.

    And this is a politically correct conductor who is obviously terrified of free speech and is an arrogant fool to boot – he just hasn’t realized it yet.

    • Sorry, but I am really tired about the comparison of the EU and a dictatorship or a “Politbüro”. That’s at best lazy thinking, at worst vile lies and something you should be deeply ashamed about. As far as I know, ML knew the Berlin wall and what a real dictatorship did to its people. So I am a bit surprised he allows such a comment without clarifying.
      I remember very well the dogs sniffing along the trains leaving West-Berlin to West-Germany, searching for refugees from the East. And perhaps you never saw them but I always take my guests to the crosses near Reichstag, to remember and honour at least a few of those who died trying to escape.
      And no, we do not fear nation states but we believe in solidarity and friendship being secure as Europeans in OUR nationality – are you?

    • Don’t forget to mention that in return the UK gets access on very favorable terms to a $16.6 trillion a year Single Market of 500m people.The net benefit is sizable.

    • You’re a fun bunch here.

      UK: We will make a super new totally unrealistic deal with the EU that the EU will of course except! – Voters: Wheeeeee!
      *** vote ***
      UK: We want to leave the EU! – EU: Ok.
      UK: We want a better deal with the EU than EU members! – EU: Nope. That doesn’t work, ask Norway…
      *** Negotiations ***
      May: What about this deal? – EU: Ok. – UK Parliament: Nooooooooo!
      May: Do we want to leave the EU without a deal? – Parliament: Nooooooooo!
      May: What about this deal? – EU: Ok. – UK Parliament: Nooooooooo!

      So funny and sad at the same time.

      It’s exactly happening as I predicted here a while ago. I love game theory.

      EU will be blamed if UK does not prosper as a minor economic power: Already started.

      Now it’s just the hard Brexit that’s missing.

    • “It’s quite simple really. Britain pays about 13 billion GBP into the EU budget but gets only 4 billion GBP out.”

      I bet a lot of Brits got scared into voting “leave” with dishonestly presented factoids like that.

      That supposed £9 billion difference is only about 1.5% of the annual UK government budget and less than a third of a percent of the UK economy.

      You’re going to shoot yourself in the foot and make everything about interacting with the countries you do most of your business and exchange with ten times harder and ten times more awkward…

      …to save a third of a percent.

    • Calling EU bureaucrats unelected politbureau is silly, they represent national representatives (= elected). The EU was an initiative by the nation states, and not the result of a coup by a totalitarian political party.

  • “(and believe me, the Empire is brought up – no joke – by every single German I speak to about Brexit)”

    No doubt, but I’m sure that British references to WW2 would be treated with scorn. Double standards about the relevance of our histories?

  • If Mr. Gale really wants to discuss the views of “the Germans” he should first try to get a somewhat representative overview of opinions amongst Germans. When he talks about “nearly every German citizen” it must be added: Inside his filter bubble.

    So much for the realities of British-German relations. It is apparent that we in fact know pretty little of each other. And the same goes, I fear even much worse, for France and all the other European countries. Anything else is wishful thinking of certain elites. And should I add, after reading the article from Mr. Gale, that we have little to say to each other anyway?

    In case it is of interest what another, hard to define subset of Germans thinks: The outcome of the plebiscite was no surprise; UK should not expect to get an Extrawurst; House of Commons is where that funny guy yells “oooohdääääh”; it is unbelievable that May is still in office. And these other Germans are long tired of Merkel and her ridiculous rhomb pose, reportedly even believing that she will be reelected in 2021 until her own party told her. Limiting Bundeskanzler terms would apparently be no bad idea.

  • “Germans fear that the forceful expression of opinion can be deemed dangerously persuasive, especially when charismatic rhetoric can so easily manipulate the emotions of listeners.”

    Like the modern Left, Germans seem to find democracy threatening. Yes; ‘fearful of forceful opinions’. Ergo; de-platforming, shutting down alternative opinion, censorship, speakers’ expulsions from universities, safe spaces, trigger warnings, tearing down statues, removing books from stores. It’s all deluded authoritarianism – inspired by Lefty demagogues/heroes from past and present – and will come back to bite. Sooner rather than later.

    What is going on in the UK at the moment is an existential flight over democracy itself.

  • What has this article to do with music? It’s just complaining about lack of understanding the British psyche.

    It seems to me that the history of British society has been – under the surface – quite different from the continent, which, for instance, is shown in its legal system and how it developed. It always was, and still is, an island and this goes very deep in the collective subconscious.

    “….. it is precisely this mess that proves just how deeply ingrained the EU is in nearly everything Brits do.” Therefore it may have been better if the UK had never joined the EU – but it wanted to be part of the EU at the time. It is a revealing fact that it are mostly the young generations who want to remain, and the older who want to leave, that says it all. It seems to me crucial that the leave campaign was based, most of the time, upon lies and demogagy, and fake news and entirely irrational and emotional pathos. Now, that is something the Germans know all TOO well, so it may be that German politicians reacted as they did according to the article not because of a lack of understanding, but because they understood too well what had been going on.

    Of course there is a great pressure to reform the EU and that is also very important for culture and thus, for the music world. The ideas of political scientist Ulrike Guérot seem to me to offer a vision which would be workable and fair: a EU of the regions with direct democracy conforming to local needs, and themes which are for every region equally important, operated by a federal European government, a bit like Germany with its Länder but then on a much bigger scale, and with a strongly reduced layer of national government, or even without a nation at all.

  • “…admiration for a healthy democracy…. .”

    I’m pretty sure there is very little democracy in the U.K. (and less in the U.S.A.).

    Look at the hundreds of thousands who marched against Brexit or the nearly 5 million who signed a petition. On the other side: lie after lie.

    • Well, about 30 million voters didn’t sign the petition.But many of them are probably untermenschen and don’t count.

  • Jeez, people! Lighten up.. it’s only the future of the UK – nothing to get worried about.

    Just imagine you had written “Brexit: the opera” and it was to be staged.
    Who would you cast as the main protagonists?

    • “Just imagine you had written “Brexit: the opera” and it was to be staged. Who would you cast as the main protagonists?” – and who would write the libretto and who would be the director without even appearing biased or politically correct? 😀

  • It’s time again to raise my voice to point out the obvious: Germans don’t like undisciplined hairdo’s which reminds them of the UK parliament (picture).


  • Should I have heard of Jooolz Gale ? Gale seems an apt surname … empty vessels make the loudest noise

    • Should we have ever heard of you, Chris? Storey is an apt name for a Brexiter. Stories is all you and your Grease-Mopp have got. Where’s the 350 million quid you and your nutters promised the NHS?

  • I think there is a limit with who one can call a Conductor and who not! DO YOU CALL A AMATEUR VIOLIN PLAYER ALSO A VIOLINIST???

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