As one door opens to let Chancellor out, the walls close in on the PM
ONE is fond of kittenheeled designer numbers, the other could be a poster woman for Clarks’ comfiest. But there is little doubt that Theresa May would this weekend prefer to be in Angela Merkel’s shoes rather than her own, even if the German Chancellor is stepping down as her party’s leader.
In the German system the job of party leader is separate to that of Chancellor. One person can do both, as Mrs Merkel has for the past 13 years, or the responsibility can be split. It is an odd business. Imagine Labour’s John Mcdonnell becoming PM while Jeremy Corbyn remained as party leader (a neat idea, some might think).
But it works for Germany, which is why Mrs Merkel was set last night to be replaced as chair of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but continue as Chancellor till the next federal elections in 2021.
That, at any rate, is the theory. In reality, how long Mrs Merkel continues as Chancellor depends on her successor as CDU leader, Annegret Kramp-karrenbauaer. If she continues to be her ally, as seems likely, fine. If not, there may be trouble ahead.
Either way, yesterday felt like the end of an era as her party rushed to pay tribute to the woman known to the country as “Mutti”. There is much that is remarkable about Mrs Merkel, not least her longevity at the top of German and EU politics. Like the Queen, she has watched other countries’ leaders come and go while she sailed on serenely. Since she became Chancellor in 2005 the conga line of British Prime Ministers has stretched from Blair to May. Whatever new kid appeared on the block, she kept her trademark calm and carried on.
Her decision in 2015 to open Germany’s doors to one million refugees changed all that. At the time it was was seen as a deeply humane move, yet a pragmatic one, too. Refugees, mostly from Syria, desperately needed homes, and an ageing Germany required workers. When doubts were raised about the numbers, Mrs Merkel insisted: “We can do this.”
Attacks by migrants in Cologne and outbreaks of violence elsewhere, all exploited by the far right Alternative for Germany (AFD), showed Germany was not up to the task of taking in so many
Typical Cybermen, barging their way in and taking over the place. Their mission? To tell Earthlings that the first round of tickets is now on sale for BBC Studios and Escape Hunt’s forthcoming Doctor Who Live Escape Game – Worlds Collide, opening in Birmingham in January. Fabio De Paola/pa Wire