The German news weekly Der Spiegel has published a cut-price bilingual edition today, urging British voters to stay in the European Union (EU) under the headline “Please Don’t Go!”
The emotive headline sets the tone for what is, in essence, a plea for unity from German Europhiles; the magazine calls it an “entreaty”. Although the authors admit it is “not easy to like England at the moment,” British readers are nonetheless assured that they bring “nonchalance and progress” to the European mix, for which they are admired and valued.
Hailing British cultural exports ranging from “James Bond to Twiggy’s haircut”, the magazine said it wanted to offer Britain a “firm handshake, coupled with an honest, straightforward appeal: remain”.
But the edition also includes an interview with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who darkly warns that Britain will be blocked from taking part in the Single Market in the event of a Brexit.
And the ‘entreaty’ also states: “Brexit would be a catastrophe for everyone, including the UK itself.”
Nonetheless, Spiegel Editor-in-Chief Klaus Brinkbaeumer has said that the magazine’s cover story, featuring an image of Boris Johnson playing tug-of-war, would contain myriad reasons why the EU is better off with Britain as a member.
“The result is an objective but also strong, emotional – and bilingual – appeal to the country: Please don’t go!” he said in a statement.
It is too late “to convince the British to love the EU,” the editorial concedes, but “perhaps we should use this opportunity to mention how much the rest of Europe admires them. It’s unbelievable that they don’t seem to see how much they’ve shaped the continent, how much we value them here, how close we Germans feel to them.”
“Germany has always looked across the Channel with some degree of envy,” it adds. “On our emotional map of Europe, the Italians were responsible for love and good food, the French for beauty and elegance and the Brits for nonchalance and progress. They have an inner independence that we Germans lack, in addition to myriad anti-authoritarian, defiant tendencies. A lot of what happened in Britain spilled over to us sooner or later, reinforcing our cultural ties.”
And in case the Brits think that the sentiment is confined only to the magazine’s editors and journalists, Der Spiegel has also commissioned a poll, by TNS, which showed that 79 per cent of Germans want Britain to remain within the European Union. The poll also showed that 83 per cent of respondents favoured Germany staying in the EU too.
But sceptical Britons who suspect the Germans of only wanting Britain to remain within the bloc to help shoulder the economic burden of keeping the Eurozone alive are told that 53 per cent of Germans don’t believe that a Brexit would negatively affect Germany, against 36 per cent who think it would have a negative effect.
The magazine is one of the largest weekly titles in Europe with a readership of around 800,000. In a bid to entice British readers in, the cover price is being slashed from £5.20 to £2.00, while the cover article is being published in both German and English.