34 Photos of Richard Branson That Will Make You Go Hmm

We aren't surprised Richard Branson introduced <a href="http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/fashion/female-virgin-trains-uniforms-... see-through tops</a> for the female staff at Virgin Trains. We thought a little photo-essay might

 

Richard Branson likes to pose.

 

At first, we thought the best way to demonstrate that is with pictures of the man himself. After all, there's no shortage:

 

1969: File picture of British businessman Richard Branson. AFP/Getty Images

22 June 1984: British entrepreneur Richard Branson inaugurates his new airline Virgin Atlantic Airways. Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images

29 September 2009: Richard Branson poses at the opening of the Virgin Mobile Metro Theatre. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

8 April 2013: Sir Richard Branson arrives at Edinburgh Airport and lifts his Harris Tweed Kilt. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

 

Then we thought that a better way might be to show the Branson's prediliction for getting close to beautiful women:

 

8 December 2004: Businessman Richard Branson gestures as he arrives to launch his new Virgin Atlantic airline. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

24 February 2009: Sir Richard Branson poses in the pool. Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

26 October 2009: Sir Richard Branson and actress Marisa Tomei attend 'Rock The Kasbah' hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Eve Branson. Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for Virgin Unite

26 October 2009: Sir Richard Branson, Tiffany Persons and actress Marisa Tomei attend 'Rock The Kasbah' hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Eve Branson. Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for Virgin Unite

17 April 2011: Sir Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Branson, dressed as a cheerleaders, take part in a record-breaking cheer at Canary Wharf. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

11 February 2012: TV Personality Kim Kardashian, Honoree Sir Richard Branson and Singer Britney Spears attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

11 February 2012: Sir Richard Branson and singer Natalie Imbruglia attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

13 March 2012: Sir Richard Branson launches the day of activity at Liverpool Lime Street Station. Tony Woolliscroft/Getty Images

4 April 2012: Sir Richard Branson (L) and actress Amber Rose attend the Launch of Virgin America's First Flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

4 April 2012: Sir Richard Branson attends the Launch of Virgin America's First Flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

22 April 2013: Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson poses for a photo after being presented a sequined captain's jacket by Las Vegas showgirls. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

 

Sometimes, perhaps too close to beautiful women:

 

4 November 2002: Virgin Mobile's Richard Branson and some beautiful Sydney models. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

19 March 2010: Sir Richard Branson interacts with guests during the 'Branson By The Pool' function. Paul Kane/Getty Images

 

Sometimes dangerously close:

 

15 October 2003: Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, attends the launch of his latest U.S. company 'Virgin Pulse'. Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Once, the woman was wooden:

 

26 October 1984: English businessman Richard Branson at the Princess Victoria pub, London. Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

Also I'm not sure those windows are supposed to open:

 

22 April 2013: Sir Richard Branson - and a Las Vegas showgirl friend - emerge from the flight deck window of Virgin America's just landed inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

 

But then we discovered the motherlode.

 

It turns out, if you're a woman who stands near Richard Branson, he will pick you up.

 

14 June 2004: Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson celebrates on French soil after a record-breaking crossing of the English Channel. Carl De Souza/Getty Images

9 December 2004: Businessman Sir Richard Branson plays in the surf on Bondi Beach with a model. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

9 December 2004: Model Bessie Bardot with Businessman Sir Richard Branson attend a private party. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

31 March 2005: British business tycoon Sir Richard Branson (C) of Virgin Atlantic Airways lifts Indian model Jeniffer Mayani after the airline's inaugural flight touched down at the International Airport in Bombay. SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

4 December 2005: Richard Branson, chairman and founder of the Virgin Group of companies, holds Wang Jingqian, who won a pair of upper class round trip tickets from Shanghai to London. China Photos/Getty Images

28 March 2006: Sir Richard Branson poses with a belly dancer at the Bab-el-Shams hotel resort. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

29 March 2006: British Entrepreneur and businessman Sir Richard Branson poses with Miss England Hammasa Kohistani during a photocall on a stretch of sand on the man-made island known as 'United Kingdom' in the new development, The World, in Dubai. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

23 February 2009: A woman gestures after being lifted by Sir Richard Branson during the official launch of the new Virgin Active. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

22 June 2009: Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson poses with model Kate Moss on a wing of a jumbo jet at Heathrow Airport. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

15 June 2010: Founder and President of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson holds burlesque artist Dita Von Teese as they appear on the wing of a Virgin Atlantic Airways 747-400 aircraft at McCarran International Airport. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

12 September 2010: John Borghetti CEO, Delta Goodrem and Sir Richard Branson celebrate Virgin Blue's 10th Anniversary in Australia. Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

3 July 2012: Zoe Hardman, Sir Richard Branson, Lydia Bright and Michelle Heaton attend a photocall to reveal Richard Branson's celebrity team taking part in this year's Virgin Active London Triathlon. Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

22 April 2013: Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson lifts a Virgin America teammate on the red carpet. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

 

Eventually, though, some women got their own back:

 

17 April 2011: Sir Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Branson (2nd L), dressed as a cheerleaders, take part in a record-breaking cheer at Canary Wharf. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

 

And one just wasn't taking it any more:

 

26 September 2002: Chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, poses with model Maddy Ford at the launch of Virgin.net Broadband service. John Li/Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Who is the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier?

The former French foreign minister has shown signs that he will play hardball in negotiations.

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator today set an October 2018 deadline for the terms of Britain’s divorce from the European Union to be agreed. Michel Barnier gave his first press conference since being appointed to head up what will be tough talks between the EU and UK.

Speaking in Brussels, he warned that UK-EU relations had entered “uncharted waters”. He used the conference to effectively shorten the time period for negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal process to take Britain out of the EU. The article sets out a two year period for a country to leave the bloc.

But Barnier, 65, warned that the period of actual negotiations would be shorter than two years and there would be less than 18 months to agree Brexit.  If the terms were set in October 2018, there would be five months for the European Parliament, European Council and UK Parliament to approve the deal before a March 2019 Brexit.

But who is the urbane Frenchman who was handpicked by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to steer the talks?

A centre-right career politician, Barnier is a member of the pan-EU European People’s Party, like Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A committed European and architect of closer eurozone banking integration, Barnier rose to prominence after being elected aged just 27 to the French National Assembly.  He is notorious in Brussels for his repeated references to the 1992 Winter Olympics he organised in Albertville with triple Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy.

He first joined the French cabinet in 1993 as minister of the environment. In 1995, Jacques Chirac made him Secretary of State for European Affairs, teeing up a long and close relationship with Brussels.

Barnier has twice served as France’s European Commissioner, under the administrations of Romano Prodi and José Manuel BarrosoMost recently he was serving as an unpaid special advisor on European Defence Policy to Juncker until the former prime minister of Luxembourg made him Brexit boss.“I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job,” Juncker said at the time of Barnier, who has supported moves towards an EU army.

 

Barnier and the Brits

Barnier’s appointment was controversial. Under Barroso, he was Internal Market commissioner. Responsible for financial services legislation at the height of the crisis, he clashed with the City of London.

During this period he was memorably described as a man who, in a hall of mirrors, would stop and check his reflection in every one.

Although his battles with London’s bankers were often exaggerated, the choice of Barnier was described as an “act of war” by some British journalists and was greeted with undisguised glee by Brussels europhiles.

Barnier moved to calm those fears today. At the press conference, he said, “I was 20 years old, a very long time ago, when I voted for the first time and it was in the French referendum on the accession of the UK to the EU.

“That time I campaigned for a yes vote. And I still think today that I made right choice.”

But Barnier, seen by some as aloof and arrogant, also showed a mischievous side.  It was reported during Theresa May’s first visit to Brussels as prime minister that he was demanding that all the Brexit talks be conducted in French.

While Barnier does speak English, he is far more comfortable talking in his native French. But the story, since denied, was seen as a snub to the notoriously monolingual Brits.

The long lens photo of a British Brexit strategy note that warned the EU team was “very French” may also have been on his mind as he took the podium in Brussels today.

Barnier asked, “In French or in English?” to laughter from the press.

He switched between English and French in his opening remarks but only answered questions in French, using translation to ensure he understood the questions.

Since his appointment Barnier has posted a series of tweets which could be seen as poking fun at Brexit. On a tour of Croatia to discuss the negotiations, he posed outside Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships asking, “Guess where we are today?”

 

 

He also tweeted a picture of himself drinking prosecco after Boris Johnson sparked ridicule by telling an Italian economics minister his country would have to offer the UK tariff-free trade to sell the drink in Britain.

But Barnier can also be tough. He forced through laws to regulate every financial sector, 40 pieces of legislation in four years, when he was internal market commissioner, in the face of sustained opposition from industry and some governments.

He warned today, "Being a member of the EU comes with rights and benefits. Third countries [the UK] can never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to same obligations.”

On the possibility of Britain curbing free movement of EU citizens and keeping access to the single market, he was unequivocal.

“The single market and four freedoms are indivisible. Cherry-picking is not an option,” he said.

He stressed that his priority in the Brexit negotiations would be the interests of the remaining 27 member states of the European Union, not Britain.

“Unity is the strength of the EU and President Juncker and I are determined to preserve the unity and interest of the EU-27 in the Brexit negotiations.”

In a thinly veiled swipe at the British, again greeted with laughter in the press room, he told reporters, “It is much better to show solidarity than stand alone. I repeat, it is much better to show solidarity than stand alone”.

Referring to the iconic British poster that urged Brits to "Keep Calm and Carry On” during World War Two, he today told reporters, “We are ready. Keep calm and negotiate.”

But Barnier’s calm in the face of the unprecedented challenge to the EU posed by Brexit masks a cold determination to defend the European project at any cost.

James Crisp is the news editor at EurActiv, an online EU news service.