Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel joke about football but German Chancellor expresses 'grave concern' over Wembley scenes

PM and German Chancellor joke about the Euro 2020 last-16 result

Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel joked about England's Euro 2020 win over Germany, as the pair hosted a joint press conference at Chequers on Friday - but the German chancellor expressed concern at scenes of a busy Wembley stadium.

Noting Ms Merkel's 22 visits to the UK during her time in power, the prime minister told the briefing: "In the course of that time some things have changed beyond recognition but for much of your tenure it was certainly a tradition, Angela, for England to lose to Germany in international football tournaments.

"I’m obviously grateful to you for breaking with that tradition, just for once."

On Germany’s defeat in the Euros, Ms Merkel said: "Obviously this was not a voluntary offer on my side to create the right mood for this visit but I have to accept it.

"You deserved it but we were a little bit sad but now the best of luck to the British team."

England fans prior to kick-off at Wembley Credit: Mike Egerton/PA

Talks between the two leaders took on a more serious note quickly, however, with Ms Merkel expressing "grave concern" at the numbers of fans being admitted to the Euro 2020 matches at Wembley.

Mrs Merkel said she raised the issue with Boris Johnson during their talks at Chequers.

"I say this with grave concern. I have also said this to the prime minister," she said.

"We in Germany, as you know, have less people attend games in the Munich stadium but the British government will obviously take its own decision.

"But I am very much concerned whether it is not a bit too much."

'I am very much concerned whether it is not a bit too much' says Merkel of Euro crowds

Wembley welcomed a crowd of 40,000 supporters at Tuesday's game against Germany - the biggest since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Capacity will be increased again for the semi-final and final meaning more than 60,000 fans will be able to watch the games live.

The PM defended busy scenes in Wembley and other events in the UK.

"We have certain events which we can put on in a very careful and controlled manner with testing of everybody who goes there," Mr Johnson said.

"The crucial point is that here in the UK we have now built up a very considerable wall of immunity against the disease by our vaccination programme."

England fans endured a frustrating first half at Wembley Credit: Nick Potts/PA

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization warned crowds in football stadiums, pubs and bars in Euro 2020 host cities are driving the current rise in coronavirus infections in Europe.

Mr Johnson said there had been "a big change" in the relationship between the numbers of cases and the numbers of serious illnesses and deaths since the start of the vaccination programme.

"I want to stress that we have been very cautious at every stage. But that’s why I think it’s been effective and it’s why it’s been an irreversible road map (out of lockdown)."

Later on Friday, the German Chancellor met with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

The head of state and Ms Merkel posed for a picture before their audience began at the Queen’s Berkshire home.

'Wonderful day' - Angela Merkel meets the Queen at Windsor

"Good afternoon. Nice to see you again," the monarch said to Ms Merkel.

"We've got the photographers here, and I'm always certain they want to take a picture, make history," the Queen added before asking Ms Merkel about her meeting with Boris Johnson.

"So you've been seeing the Prime Minister?," she said.

"Yes, in Chequers," Ms Merkel replied.

The Queen asked if the German Chancellor had had a "nice day" to which she replied: "Wonderful day".

The pair met only a few weeks ago when the UK hosted G7 leaders in Cornwall and the Queen led her family at a reception for the foreign guests at the Eden Project.

What else did the PM and the German Chancellor discuss?

Ms Merkel gave hope to double-jabbed Britons for the hope of a holiday in Europe this summer.

The German Chancellor said European travel without quarantine was in the "foreseeable future" having previously voiced opposition to the measure because of worries about the spread of the Delta variant.

The chancellor said travel restrictions were being reviewed for those who have received two coronavirus vaccines after holding talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Chequers on Friday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Credit: PA

On the issue of post-Brexit relations, Ms Merkel said she believed "pragmatic solutions" can be found on the issue of the Northern Ireland protocol.

The German chancellor said "acceptable solutions" needed to be found so the integrity of the single market is maintained.

"I think I’m optimistic that this can happen," she said.

Her sentiments on the so-called 'sausage wars' - a situation in which there could be a ban on British-made sausages being sold in Northern Ireland due to rows over post-Brexit border arrangements - were echoed by the PM who said: "We have to sort it out.

"I'm sure, as Angela says, with good will and good patience, we can sort it out. We're going to need to fix it, because it needs to be fixed."

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Mr Johnson thanked the German chancellor for her "commitment to the UK-Germany relationship," quoting Ms Merkel, he said: "We share the same values and we share a lot more than that."

Ms Merkel said Germany and the UK have agreed to establish regular inter-governmental consultations.

"It is, now that Britain has left the European Union, a good opportunity to open a new chapter in our relationship," she told a joint press conference.

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