Author Archives: Ingeborg Bottrall

Does German History Hold the Answer to Our Current Brexit Impasse?

Britain is still a world power with significant international obligations and a major player on the European scene – irrespective of whether she considers herself part of it or not. A clarification of how “European” Great Britain considers itself would be paramount for future relations with her neighbours. The British are often confused as to whether they are geographically part of Europe or not.

A possible way out could be found when one looks at the scenario in post-war Germany in 1948/49. Germany in its bid for world power status had been decisively defeated, its territory reduced, divided and destroyed. The three Western Allies decided to combine the three military zones and create West Germany in the face of Russian non-cooperation. That led to the Berlin blockade of 1948/49.

A parliamentary commission was set up consisting of law professors and newly elected regional representatives such as Konrad Adenauer. They met in Bavaria and wrote the “Grundgesetz” (basic law) in nine months! The situation in the country could not have been more dire, with millions of the dispossessed, refugees and returning prisoners of war! Their work also had to be approved by the House of Commons, the US Congress and the L’Assemblée Nationale in Paris. The need to establish a new democratic system of government was overwhelming!

The brief was fulfilled and approved by all three occupying powers. The foundation of the Socialist German Democratic Republic in the Russian zone followed a few months later. The commission’s clear goals were the following: the need to prevent another dictatorship, the desire to incorporate the best aspects of British and American democracy, and to pay homage to Germany’s own democratic traditions going back to the revolution of  1848.

It has become evident that our unwritten constitution is no longer able to serve the interests of the people. A written constitution with a true devolved structure and a supreme court, which makes sure that rules are kept and constitutional conflicts avoided, are necessary! The exercise of codifying the responsibilities and decision-making powers at different levels of government (local, national and international) would reduce the confusion and conflict substantially.

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