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Proud Brit in Germany defiantly paints tank with Union Jack after £50,000 battle

A proud Brit living in Germany says he "will never surrender" after splashing out £100,000 to show off his Union Jack tank .

Gary Blackburn, 57, wants the giant "piece of art" to mend UK relations with Germany and help drive more visitors to an unlikely corner of Europe dedicated to "British greatness".

After spending £50,000 in legal fees fighting local authorities to keep a tank in his own back garden, the tree surgeon boss has moved it 400 metres and defiantly given it a patriotic lick of paint.

Gary believes after four weeks of hard graft and 40 litres of paint, his British-built war machine is "the first electric Union Jack tank in the world".

He told the Daily Star "I've had to adapt and overcome and we'll never surrender. I don't want to give in. It's a piece of art and doesn't hurt anybody. It looks totally different now, it doesn't look like a war machine or anything.

"To put it bluntly, the tank cost me €30,000 to buy, I restored it, did bits and pieces to it, that's another €20,000 about four or five years ago so that's at least €50,000.

"It's cost me another €60,000 for permissions to try and keep it where it was so that's €100,000 and I've just spent probably €15,000 or €20,000 doing it up again as a Union Jack with all the 40 litres of paint.

"So the tank now has cost me £100,000 you could so but it really looks the part and I'm really pleased with it."

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Furious with his administrative and costly nightmare, Gary decided to simply move his home and businesses up the road to a far more welcoming council.

Despite leaving Lincolnshire for Germany in 1985, the tree surgeon's neighbours can see clearly where his heart still lies thanks to his very own Little Britain.

And the tank's new unmistakable blue, red and white design is the latest addition to his Rhineland attraction which has drawn in tourists from across the continent and as far as America.

Of course no truly British tank is complete without the world famous silent comedy character Mr Bean.

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Gary who embraces being called "bonkers" and "crazy", told the Daily Star: "The Germans really love it. It was my idea to spray it the Union Jack and I got an artist.

"I think with the tank and after Brexit and England doing so well with the vaccinations and with the football, I think the Union Jack reflects that British greatness doesn't it. Absolutely brilliant.

"In the middle of Germany, in the heartland we've got the Union Jack centurion electric tank, the first in the world, in Little Britain."

"After Brexit we're showing out with these Europeans what England's capable of. Close to me about 5km away is Remagen on the other side of the river and Erpel is where there was that big fight during the war."

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Gary has six grown up children with most of them working for a tree surgery company he founded after years working for top German officials.

Sherwood Forest – where he first worked – was the inspiration behind his new Robin Hood pub.

"Obviously I love England and its legends and that's what I wanted to bring to Germany, you know British greatness. The fantasy and stories of Robin Hood. The hotel is themed with everything that makes Britain great.

"A lot of the German people really like the English, they've either got family in England that study or relations in England.

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"The Germans for some reason have a lot of respect for the English. I think they feel closer to the English than other people in Europe also because of the Queen and the Royal Family.

"So that's the connection I suppose there's a lot of German is us as well but I hope there's not too much in me!

"Obviously because of Brexit I wanted to keep relations going. I just try to bring a bit of fun into Germany.

"So that's what I try and do, if I get an idea I'll try and carry it through to the end and with Little Britain it's doing really well and I think I've left a bit of a mark here in the heartland of Germany.

"We try and keep the British and German friendship going."

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