A senior member of Germany’s Eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party has pleaded for Britain to stay in the European Union, or else the whole Union could collapse or become a tyranny: “For me the idea that Britain could leave the EU is the worst scenario I can think of… If Britain is gone then we are lost, then the whole continent is lost. We will be running toward a EUSSR. This is not a great exaggeration.”
During the interview posted on the English-language website thelocal.de, Hans-Olaf Henkel called for an end to the Euro currency, saying it was harming Germany. Henkel praised Britain as “the only country left in Brussels where representatives have maintained a certain common sense,” saying that the rest of Europe should aspire to Britain’s position of being in the EU but not in the Eurozone.
Looking forward to the forthcoming European elections, AfD expects to win some of Germany’s seats in the European Parliament. Henkel said that his party would aim to work with Britain’s Conservative Party in the European Parliament, although there have so far been no formal talks.
He also rejected the idea of working with UKIP, saying that AfD does not want to dissolve the European Union and is sceptical of UKIP’s policy on immigration. In fact, there are very few Eurosceptic parties who AfD are likely to work with.
“I’ll tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to go with UKIP because they want to dissolve the EU, which is not our programme, and their immigration policy looks ridiculous [to us]. We will certainly not team up with Wilders from the Netherlands, Madame Le Pen in France or the FPÖ in Austria,” he said.
Eventhough the party does not officially want an alliance with UKIP, Nigel Farage was still invited to address AfD’s youth wing, and two senior AfD members have ignored their leadership and travelled to London to meet Farage.
Henkel, however, laughed off these meetings, joking: “I have met Fidel Castro four times… and no one has ever said I am a leftist revolutionary.”
He then went on to say that the Euro currency is now the biggest problem in Europe, as it is too strong for southern countries such as Greece and Portugal and too weak for countries such as Germany.
Explaining the problems the Euro crisis has caused, Henkel said: “In order to save the euro we must reduce the huge differences in productivity between Greece and Germany. Not totally, but somehow… The Greeks are trying to come up, and the Portuguese and the Spanish… but that’s not enough. So what happens now? Germany has to come down.”
He pointed to the creation of a compulsory minimum wage in Germany as evidence the country was being pulled down.
Alternative für Deutschland was founded last year as an anti-Euro party to contest the German Federal Elections. Although it narrowly missed out on winning representation in the German parliament, it has since risen in the polls and will almost certainly win seats at the upcoming European elections.
The party describes itself as ‘centrist’ and, in contrast with other Eurosceptic parties on the continent, does not take a nationalist or anti-immigration line. In fact, it is still in favour of further European integration, albeit with less centralisation and bureaucracy. Although some disaffected social conservatives have found a home in the party, they are not yet in a dominant position.