There may be a whiff of Monty Python absurdity about the situation, but as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union at the end of 2020, the British have rarely held the EU’s largest member state, Germany, in higher regard.
One of the more unlikely bestselling books this autumn has been John Kampfner’s Why Germans Do It Better. The British author is fulsome in his praise of post-war West Germany and today’s reunited Germany, writing of its “stability” and “maturity” and proclaiming, “No country has achieved so much good in so little time.”
The bedrock of German society, in Kampfner’s eyes, is its loyalty to the rule of law and systems intended benefit the majority of society. “Germany’s constitution is strong; political debate is more grown-up; economic performance has for much of the post-war era been unrivalled.” Kampfner specifically singles out the strength and stability of German political leadership, from the country’s first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, to its current one, Angela Merkel.
This admiration is mirrored, to a certain degree, in the British government that will lead the UK out of the EU. Britain’s new National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP), which was rolled out in August, is explicitly modelled upon Germany’s Robert Koch Institute. And in a white paper from July, British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson promised to build up “world-class, German-style” further education system in the country.