Angela Merkel’s right-hand man Wolfgang Schäuble has said he hopes the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal will persuade the United Kingdom to reverse Brexit and stay in the EU.
The Bundestag president, who has been accused of inflicting punitive measures on weaker EU member-states and disregarding elections during his long tenure as Germany’s finance minister, made the comments to the Funke media group.
Schauble, one of the most powerful politicians not just in Germany but in the entire Eurozone for years, was expanding on his previous comments that “In the Brexit campaign, the Britons were endlessly lied to and deceived and when they happened to be successful, the ones who did that ran away because they said they can’t take responsibility for that.”
He suggested the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, an alleged double agent for MI6 who was released in exchange for Russsian spy Anna Chapman in 2010, would somehow persuade Britain to stay in the European Union despite the Brexit vote, saying the incident proved “Europe works”.
“I do have hope that the Brits will remain in the EU,” he told journalists, claiming the poisoning proved “how good it is to not stand alone in the world.”
Diplomats expelled from Russia:
Czech Republic: 3
Ireland: 1 pic.twitter.com/YnZ6zaYLw9
— RussianEmbassy Malta (@RusEmbMalta) March 30, 2018
It is not entirely clear in what way Schäuble believes the spy poisoning demonstrates that “Europe works” in the context of Brexit.
Not every EU member-state has followed Britain in expelling Russian diplomats in response to Skripal’s killing, while many countries outside the European Union, including the United States, Australia, and Ukraine, have.
Indeed, the United States has expelled many more Russian diplomats (60) than Germany (4) — more than every EU member-state combined, in fact.
The city-state of Luxembourg, which is de facto one of the EU’s capitals, along with Brussels and Strasbourg, is among those countries which had not expelled any Russians, and European Commission president and Luxembourg native Jean-Claude Juncker even wrote Russian leader Vladimir Putin a gushing letter of congratulations on his recent re-election, addressing him as “Excellency, Mr President,” and wishing him “every success in carrying out your high responsibilities”.
The British government believes President Putin is responsible for Skripal’s death, by either ordering it directly or losing control of the nerve agent used to kill him.