Germany's businesses fear a 'Hard Brexit' would damage both sides

Angela MerkelBen Pruchnie/Getty ImagesChancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

LONDON — An industry spokesman for Germany’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) believes that a “hard” Brexit which pulls Britain out of the single market “would harm both sides.”

BVMW President Mario Ohoven, whose trade group represents over 250,000 German SMEs, told the BBC that negotiations should be “guided by economic sense and not by political ideologues.”

The remarks strike a different tone to other German politicians, who have insisted that Britain cannot have full single market access unless it retains the EU’s freedom of movement policy — something Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out.

Ohoven said that keeping Britain in the single market was vital to maintain the close trade links between the two countries.

“Germany exported goods worth €89 billion (£76 billion) to the UK alone in 2015 — almost half of it was exported by 150,000 German SMEs,” he said.

“In the end, a soft Brexit should be reached. It is important that the UK stays in the single market, or that the UK joins an agreement similar to the the EFTA (European Free Trade Association), similar to Norway or Iceland.

He said the “worst result” would be “if the EU and the UK did not reach an agreement in time.”

Ministers have admitted the possibility that the government will fail to secure a full UK-EU trade deal within the two-year time frame permitted by EU law, but the prime minister is confident such a scenario can be avoided.

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