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Pro-Brexit MP criticized for 'anti-German' remarks

Rebecca Staudenmaier
January 26, 2019

The comments from Mark Francois came after Airbus CEO Tom Enders urged lawmakers to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Taking aim at Enders, Francois referenced D-Day and said he wouldn't submit to "bullying by any German."

The EU and UK flags in front of Parliament in London
Image: picture alliance/dpa

Conservative, pro-Brexit Member of Parliament Mark Francois raised eyebrows on Friday for using World War II references to criticize Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, who is German.

On Thursday, Airbus posted a video message from Enders, who implored British lawmakers to avoid a no-deal Brexit, saying "there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft."

"Please don't listen to the Brexiteers' madness, which asserts that 'because we have huge plants here, we will not move and we will always be here.' They are wrong," Enders said in the video.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Francois hit back at the CEO, emphasizing Enders' German nationality and criticizing his video message.

After saying that Enders was "a German paratrooper in his youth," Francois said the CEO's video displayed the "Teutonic arrogance" of the European Union.

"If he thinks because he runs a big company [that] he can bully British MPs on how to vote, he's going to be sorely mistaken," Francois told the BBC. "My father, Reginald Francois, was a D-Day veteran. He never submitted to bullying by any German and neither will his son."

Francois slammed for 'jingoistic' remarks

The interview sparked backlash online, with Labour MP David Lammy telling Francois that it was "time to grow up."

"This jingoistic, anti-German rhetoric does nothing but trash our reputation in the world," he wrote on Twitter.

Another Labour MP, Bill Esterson, tweeted that "the Tory Party has become the home for the far right" following Francois' remarks.

Tanja Bueltmann, a history professor working in the UK, who was born in Germany, said Francois' remarks have led her to question why she continues to live in the UK.

"Not only am I now forced to apply to stay, I also have to listen to a British MP, Mark Francois, and his reprehensible Germanophobia on live TV," she wrote on Twitter.

Businesses have grown increasingly concerned about the prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU on March 29 without a withdrawal agreement in place.

Prime Minister Theresa May is currently trying to win support for an edited divorce deal after Parliament overwhelmingly voted against her plan earlier this month.

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