Sir Richard Branson hails Germany's stance on migrants crisis


Sir Richard Branson has revealed he cried when Germany declared it was opening its doors to migrants.

The billionaire entrepreneur behind the global Virgin brand said the world owed Europe's powerhouse the "biggest hug" for doing the right thing.

Speaking in Dublin, he said other countries had much to gain by following Chancellor Angela Merkel's lead in dealing with the refugee crisis.

"It brought tears to my eyes and a lot of people's eyes when Germany offered to take a million people in, and we saw the train loads of people going to Germany," he said.

"Germany needs the biggest hug from the world for their bravery, for doing the right thing."

Sir Richard said Germany stands to financially benefit enormously from the effective open-door policy, which has proved controversial within the country. 

"If you turn the clock forward five years, Germany will be a much stronger country as a result, but they still did the right thing," he said. 

"There are certainly countries that could benefit from taking more refugees in, and obviously the refugees themselves desperately need homes."

In the Irish capital to rebrand the UPC cable company as Virgin Media, the businessman said he spent the previous night out in the city with rock star friend Bono. 

After watching the play The Night Alive, by Conor McPherson, the pair went for dinner to celebrate U2's birthday and the 40-day reprieve of a man convicted of murder on death row in the US, he said. 

"We actually celebrated the fact that U2 formed 39 years ago last night," he told a press briefing.  

"So we had a few drinks with Bono. He's a good friend and we've done some good things over the years.

"He's always very supportive of anything we do, and we're always very supportive of anything he does.

"We were particularly celebrating last night a guy called Richard was about to be executed in  America - we're all absolutely convinced he's innocent - and he got a 40 day reprieve."

Richard Glossip, convicted of ordering his boss's murder, had his execution in Oklahoma postponed at the very last minute yesterday, due to uncertainty over the lethal drugs to be used.

Despite the US Supreme Court rejecting his appeal, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin asked for more time to check if the lethal drug to be administered is compliant with state rules.

Sir Richard and Pope Francis have both campaigned against the execution.

"We've been campaigning with the government to try and get him reprieved," he said.

"So it gives 40 more days to try and make sure an innocent man doesn't get executed.

"(Bono and I) spent a lot of time talking about lots of different things, connectivity in the world, what's going on in Africa, and we had a few fun drinks as well."

Sir Richard, whose Virgin Rail trains operate on the both Britain's East and West Coast Lines, initially declined to comment on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's plans for renationalising the railway network.

But he later returned to the subject, saying: "People need to remember what rail was like in the 1980s when it was run by government. 

"It was diabolical, and it's been transformed since, and that's all I'll say on that subject."

Before his election as Labour leader, Mr Corbyn once remarked: "We (the public) rebuild the West Coast Main line and then praise Richard Branson for running a protected and (to him) profitable service of pendolino trains. Something is wrong."