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From west Germany to Westminster: Unbrexit bus makes first solidarity trip

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From west Germany to Westminster: Unbrexit bus makes first solidarity trip
The Unbrexit Bus before departing Ahaus. Photo: Markus Hartmann
16:26 CEST+02:00
There is usually not a direct bus route from the far western German city of Ahaus to London. But that changed last Thursday when the newly annointed “Unbrexit" bus set out on a timely tour.

The bus, newly decorated with the flag of the EU and a giant union jack at its front end, set off to the UK with 48 Germans of all ages on board.

The four-day, round-trip tour departed from Münsterland with 48 pub-loving locals and headed directly to London, making only one brief stop at Dover Castle.

SEE ALSO: Brexit latest: Germany plans visa-free travel for British visitors

The aim? Showing solidarity with their soon-to-depart European neighbour - and expressing their love for a good pint ‘o British beer.

The idea started in the intriguingly-named The Unbrexit pub, which was founded two years ago in Ahaus by Tobit.Software.

"We are crazy about Europe. We live in the middle of it,” said Markus Hartmann, who works for Tobit.Software.

The Unbrexit in Ahaus. Photo: Markus Hartmann

“Ahaus is geographically the centre of Europe," he added. "And we love England. Immediately after the referendum we began building ‘The Unbrexit' in our hometown Ahaus. A straight pub. Even more English than England.”

The group visited a total of 12 pubs while they were in London, meeting many locals who shared their sadness at the UK's planned departure from the EU, which may happen on April 12th.

"We are not politicians. And we are not a political movement. We just love the English pop-and pub-culture,” Hartmann told the Local.

'Don't know Germany without the EU'

While the bus was on the road, it was also met with positive reactions. Younger people gave them an approving thumbs up or clapped as the bus passed by.

However, the German group also encountered a few negative responses along the way, said Hartmann. They came mostly from older Brits who told them to “go away” or “leave our country”.

Unbrexit Bus participant Mark Sander, 24, said he joined the journey because he doesn't “know Germany without the EU. I think the connection of European countries is the only possibility to stay in a strong position in the world.”

The freshly decorated bus. Photo courtesy of Markus Hartmann.

He enjoyed the pub crawls the group made on Friday and Saturday, and the unexpectedly “brilliant weather.” He also was a fan of the lively atmosphere on the streets of London - “a huge contrast to German culture.”

Sander had spontaneously bought a ticket for the tour one evening at The Unbrexit whilst playing darts and drinking beer.

The same jovial spirit remained throughout the four days abroad. “Everyone was in a very good mood and proud to be part of this special happening,” said Sander.

Free pints for Brits!

The bus trip is only the beginning of many, said Hartmann. A local bus company rented out the vehicle to them, but the owner is allowing it to stay painted for future journeys to the UK.

SEE ALSO: 'We must learn from this': The German view on Brexit chaos

The Unbrexit bus is also planning future trips to Scotland and Wales, with the dates not yet announced.

In the meantime, before and after the UK's planned departure from the EU, Hartmann says that The Unbrexit pub will be showing a warm welcome to any Brits who come to Ahaus.

“They can still have a foot in the door of the EU, thanks to our pub,” said Hartmann. “Everyone who shows his or her British passport gets a free pint. Every day.”

 
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