One of Angela Merkel’s closest allies has made an impassioned plea for the UK to stay in the European Union, citing the deliverance of Germany from the Nazis as an example of the profound and positive influence Britain has had on Europe.
David McAllister, the former prime minister of Lower Saxony and a key member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, has called on the German people to encourage the UK to vote Yes to stay in the European Union in the forthcoming in/out vote.
McAllister, who has a German mother and Scottish father, said he did not want the EU to be deprived of Britain’s military presence or its trade links.
Currently representing his party in the European Parliament, McAllister was once regarded as Merkel’s heir apparent, and he remains a highly influential figure in German politics.
As the son of a British serviceman who was brought up in Germany, McAllister prides himself on his dual identity, holding both a German and UK passport.
Although acknowledging that it was, ultimately, up to the British people to decide on the UK’s future in Europe, McAllister said he firmly believed that it was in the interests of the rest of Europe that Britain voted to stay.
“As long as British people are willing to listen, here’s a German politician with a British background trying to explain why it’s good not only for the United Kingdom but also for the European Union that you’re a member,” McAllister told Scotland on Sunday.
“If we want Britain to stay, we have to send out the message we want you to stay.
“Whenever there is UK-bashing in a German public debate, I’m usually the first one to stand up. We Germans have so much to thank the British for. If it wasn’t for Britain in 1940-41, who knows what could have happened to Europe and the rest of the world? That we Germans were liberated from national socialism is also a British success.
“As Germans, we should never ever forget what the UK did for us. That’s why I get really annoyed when I hear some of the anti-British undertones in the German debate.
“We have no right to tell the British politicians what it means to be true Europeans because it was Britain who defended European values and interests in the darkest hour of our history.”
The German MEP made his remarks in a recent speech in Hamburg, just as British Eurosceptics begin their campaign to leave the EU ahead of the vote called by David Cameron.
Despite being keen for his voice to be heard on the EU debate, McAllister has been more coy about the Scottish constitutional question.
“I have friends and relatives on both sides of the argument and I am not going to get dragged into this,” he has said.