Martin Schulz wants to be Germany’s chancellor

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Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, wants to be the German socialists’ candidate for chancellor in next year’s election, according to a newspaper report Thursday.

Schulz has asked Social Democratic Party leader Sigmar Gabriel to put his name forward for the top job in German politics, says Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Gabriel has asked Schulz to replace Frank-Walter Steinmeier as foreign minister, sources within the SPD told the paper. Steinmeier is poised to become German president early next year after Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats agreed to give him their support.

However, Schulz will only accept the foreign minister job if Gabriel also agrees to make him the SPD’s candidate in next year’s national elections, the FAZ reported.

Gabriel had planned to announce the party’s candidate at the beginning of next year and was considered likely to run himself.

A source close to Schulz told POLITICO last month his priority was to remain president of the European Parliament.

But Schulz faces opposition from MEPs across the spectrum who cite a power-sharing deal that the Socialists and Democrats group struck with the conservative European People’s Party in 2014. Under that deal, Schulz would have to make way for a conservative.

EU under threat “like never before”

Schulz has launched a thinly-veiled attack on Nigel Farage following the Ukip MEP’s meeting last week with US President-Elect Donald Trump.

Farage, the interim leader of Ukip, was photographed with Trump and other Ukip members in a lift in Trump Tower just days after the election.

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, Schulz said it was notable that Farage was the “first overseas visitor” to meet Trump after his surprise victory in the country’s elections.

European Parliament President Schulz said, “The fact that Trump chose to invite the man who is partly responsible, or should I say irresponsible, for Britain leaving the EU shows the dramatic times we are living in.”

“This is a man (Farage) who led a misleading campaign in the EU referendum and who is now apparently seen by Trump as his go between to the EU.”

He said the significance of this “should not be underestimated.”

“We have now have politicians telling us that ‘our countries must come first’ and “wanting to put up fences and walls around their countries.”

The German MEP said, “We have to fight this sort of thing.”

Schulz was speaking at the launch of a new book by UK Labour MEP Richard Corbett which details the history of the European Parliament.

Schulz, in an indirect reference to Front National MEP Marine Le Pen, a frontrunner in next year’s French presidential elections, added:

“We also have people running for public office who are advocating withdrawal from the EU.”

“It is time to stand up and fight back.”

The MEP said the EU was under threat “like never before and this is from both from inside and outside.”

He said the significance of the UK exit from the EU should also not be underestimated,” saying its full impact “has still not been fully understood or perceived.”

He, added, “We should not underestimate what happened on 23 June in the referendum. The UK leaving the EU is a big, big drama for both the EU and Britain. It will definitely weaken the EU.”