34 Photos of Richard Branson That Will Make You Go Hmm

We aren't surprised Richard Branson introduced new see-through tops for the female staff at Virgin Trains. 

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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Why Angela Merkel's comments about the UK and US shouldn't be given too much weight

The Chancellor's comments are aimed at a domestic and European audience, and she won't be abandoning Anglo-German relationships just yet.

Angela Merkel’s latest remarks do not seem well-judged but should not be given undue significance. Speaking as part of a rally in Munich for her sister party, the CSU, the German Chancellor claimed “we Europeans must really take our own fate into our hands”.

The comments should be read in the context of September's German elections and Merkel’s determination to restrain the fortune of her main political rival, Martin Schulz – obviously a strong Europhile and a committed Trump critic. Sigmar Gabriel - previously seen as a candidate to lead the left-wing SPD - has for some time been pressing for Germany and Europe to have “enough self-confidence” to stand up to Trump. He called for a “self-confident position, not just on behalf of us Germans but all Europeans”. Merkel is in part responding to this pressure.

Her words were well received by her audience. The beer hall crowd erupted into sustained applause. But taking an implicit pop at Donald Trump is hardly likely to be a divisive tactic at such a gathering. Criticising the UK post-Brexit and the US under Trump is the sort of virtue signalling guaranteed to ensure a good clap.

It’s not clear that the comments represent that much of a new departure, as she herself has since claimed. She said something similar earlier this year. In January, after the publication of Donald Trump’s interview with The Times and Bild, she said that “we Europeans have our fate in our own hands”.

At one level what Merkel said is something of a truism: in two year’s time Britain will no longer be directly deciding the fate of the EU. In future no British Prime Minister will attend the European Council, and British MEPs will leave the Parliament at the next round of European elections in 2019. Yet Merkel’s words “we Europeans”, conflate Europe and the EU, something she has previously rejected. Back in July last year, at a joint press conference with Theresa May, she said: “the UK after all remains part of Europe, if not of the Union”.

At the same press conference, Merkel also confirmed that the EU and the UK would need to continue to work together. At that time she even used the first person plural to include Britain, saying “we have certain missions also to fulfil with the rest of the world” – there the ‘we’ meant Britain and the EU, now the 'we' excludes Britain.

Her comments surely also mark a frustration born of difficulties at the G7 summit over climate change, but Britain and Germany agreed at the meeting in Sicily on the Paris Accord. More broadly, the next few months will be crucial for determining the future relationship between Britain and the EU. There will be many difficult negotiations ahead.

Merkel is widely expected to remain the German Chancellor after this autumn’s election. As the single most powerful individual in the EU27, she is the most crucial person in determining future relations between the UK and the EU. Indeed, to some extent, it was her intransigence during Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ which precipitated Brexit itself. She also needs to watch with care growing irritation across the EU at the (perceived) extent of German influence and control over the institutions and direction of the European project. Recent reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which suggested a Merkel plan for Jens Weidmann of the Bundesbank to succeed Mario Draghi at the ECB have not gone down well across southern Europe. For those critics, the hands controlling the fate of Europe are Merkel’s.

Brexit remains a crucial challenge for the EU. How the issue is handled will shape the future of the Union. Many across Europe’s capitals are worried that Brussels risks driving Britain further away than Brexit will require; they are worried lest the Channel becomes metaphorically wider and Britain turns its back on the continent. On the UK side, Theresa May has accepted the EU, and particularly Merkel’s, insistence, that there can be no cherry picking, and therefore she has committed to leaving the single market as well as the EU. May has offered a “deep and special” partnership and a comprehensive free trading arrangement. Merkel should welcome Britain’s clarity. She must work with new French President Emmanuel Macron and others to lead the EU towards a new relationship with Britain – a close partnership which protects free trade, security and the other forms of cooperation which benefit all Europeans.

Henry Newman is the director of Open Europe. He tweets @henrynewman.

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