We want you to stay: high-profile Germans urge Britain to stay in EU

Arsenal Legends' Jens Lehmann scores the winning penalty in the penalty shootout during the Legends

Arsenal Legends' Jens Lehmann scores the winning penalty in the penalty shootout during the Legends match at the Emirates Stadium, London. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Britain has been urged to stay in the European Union by Angela Merkel's likely successor and a string of high-profile Germans.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Airbus chief Tom Enders and former Arsenal and Germany footballer Jens Lehmann are among the signatories of a letter to The Times that makes an impassioned plea for Britons to remain part of the bloc.

'From the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay,' the sentimental letter says, citing milky tea and post-work pints at the pub among the habits best-loved by German Anglophiles.

But it is the UK's role in post-war Europe that the signatories highlight as a foremost reason for wanting Britain to stay.

'Without your great nation, this continent would not be what it is today: a community defined by freedom and prosperity,' the letter says.

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'After the horrors of the Second World War, Britain did not give up on us. It has welcomed Germany back as a sovereign nation and a European power.

'This we, as Germans, have not forgotten and we are grateful.'

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Despite the vote to leave, Britain 'will always have friends in Germany and Europe' and the option to return will remain on the table, they add.

'Our door will always remain open: Europe is home,' the letter states.

'Britain has become part of who we are as Europeans. And therefore we would miss Britain.

'We would miss the legendary British black humour and going to the pub after work hours to drink an ale.

'We would miss tea with milk and driving on the left-hand side of the road. And we would miss seeing the panto at Christmas.

'But more than anything else, we would miss the British people - our friends across the Channel.'

Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK, was elected as the next leader of the CDU in December.

Germany's chancellor since 2005, Merkel is standing down after the current parliamentary term ends in 2021.

Should the CDU and its allies retain power in the Bundestag, her successor would play a central role in Europe's future relations with Britain.

Enders, who has been chief executive of Airbus since 2012, warned in July that Brexit would be damaging for the aerospace industry and Britain as a whole 'whatever the outcome'.

He also accused the government of having 'no clue' how to execute Brexit.

The businessman, Kramp-Karrenbauer and former Arsenal star Lehmann were among 31 German figures to sign the letter.

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