German minister backs Sturgeon as '˜strong political leader'

Germany's Europe minister has accused Brexiteers of having no post-Brexit plan while praising Nicola Sturgeon as a 'strong political leader'.

German Minister of State for European Affairs Michael Roth. Picture: AP
German Minister of State for European Affairs Michael Roth. Picture: AP

It is the first public comment from a German government official since the passing of the Article 50 bill and the stand-off between the First Minister and Theresa May came to a head this week.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Minister Michael Roth called for “compromise” between London and Edinburgh, before he accused the UK government of not having a plan for life after the European Union.

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“My impression is that a blueprint for the UK’s future outside the European Union doesn’t exist,” he said.

Mr Roth is a Social Democrat (SPD) who has served as Europe Minister in the grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats since 2013.

His remarks represent the clearest insight yet into the mood in Berlin regarding Number 10’s handling of the Brexit negotiations.

Roth’s intervention comes in the wake of the Brexit Secretary David Davis’ admission that the government has not carried out an economic impact of leaving the EU without a deal.

If current polls are correct, the SPD could end up as winners when Germans go to the polls in September.

Asked whether an independent Scotland could retain its EU membership or be granted a fast-track application, Mr Roth wouldn’t say but did call for a deal to be reached in the “difficult situation”.

“I hope that there is a chance to find an acceptable compromise for the Scottish people, for the Brits, but I don’t want to speculate. This is a quite difficult situation,” he said.

Last August, Ms Sturgeon met Mr Roth in Berlin as part of the FM’s bid to build alliances on the continent.

This week, Mr Roth heaped praise on the SNP leader: “I was really impressed. She’s a strong political leader, and a committed European.”

Until now German leaders have largely refrained from commenting on the divorce negotiations or the internal politics of the UK.

However, Jürgen Hardt, the spokesman for the CDU/CSU Foreign Affairs group in the Bundestag said there would be “no high hurdles for Scotland to re-enter” though he urged Scots to focus on stopping Brexit altogether: “The golden solution would be for Scottish people to hinder the UK leaving the EU.

“It was a referendum driven by faked facts. I think the British government will be swept away by a wave of unsatisfied people when it becomes obvious how big the gap between expectations and reality is.”