Britain and Germany will remain friends and “very much on the same side” post-Brexit, a cross-party group of parliamentarians have said in a heartfelt open letter.
The group, which includes Match Of The Day presenter and former England international Gary Lineker, were replying to a number of high-profile Germans who published an emotional appeal for the UK to stay in the EU in the Times.
Writing in the Berlin-based newspaper Die Welt, the British group acknowledged the “genuine sadness” felt by many at the UK’s impending departure from the EU, but insisted the two countries will be allies.
It comes just days after Tory Leave-backer Mark Francois was ridiculed for telling reporters: “My father, Reginald Francois, was a D-Day veteran. He never submitted to bullying by any German and neither will his son.”
In the Germans letter – signed by senior politicians and former footballer Jens Lehmann – they cited their love of the “legendary British black humour”, milky tea, and going to the pub after work to drink ale.
They went on to praise the UK’s role in welcoming back Germany as a sovereign nation following the “horrors” of the Second World War.
Your words are a reminder that, for many Europeans, the EU is not about quotas, directives, rebates and control, but something more profoundBritish MPs reply to Germans with a letter in Die Welt
In their reply, the Brits – which include Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames – responded in similar tone to what they said had been a “touching and funny reminder of all that we share”.
“Your words are a reminder that, for many Europeans, the EU is not about quotas, directives, rebates and control, but something more profound,” they wrote.
“It is a reminder that, for Germany, Europe was a salvation after the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s, that defeated and replaced nationalism as a defining cause. And a reminder that you feel genuine sadness at our departure from what you hoped was a shared mission.
“But we still want to be friends. We love your beer, your football, some of us even like your cooking. Given the challenges we face we need to stand together to champion the values of tolerance and openness that you say are our hallmark.”
The letter went on to state that the Brexit debate in the UK has shown the British as “divided and rancorous”.
“This threatens the British reputation for good sense and pragmatism, especially when the world is watching more closely than usual,” it said.
“Your letter has reminded us that, however we voted on Brexit, we must be clearer that we are not about to retreat from our global responsibilities. Brits are outward-looking and engaged with the world.”
It ended: “Whatever the mechanics and sub-clauses of our future relationship, the tone of the text is unchanged - we are still friends, and very much on the same side.”
The signatories to the letter include former Conservative Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi, Tory MPs Tom Tugendhat and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Labour MP Emma Reynolds and Labour peer Lord Wood of Anfield.