John Cleese, Jeremy Clarkson Chime in on Brexit Vote as Debate Enters Final Days
Latest polls suggest U.K. voters could on Thursday come out slightly in favor of remaining in the European Union, pushing stocks higher at the start of the week.
Monty Python’s John Cleese and former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson are among the latest celebrities who have voiced their opinions on the future of Britain as the Brexit debate enters its final days before a Thursday referendum on whether or not the U.K. will stay in the European Union.
Clarkson and James May, his co-host on upcoming Amazon motor show The Grand Tour, and previously on Top Gear, last week met British prime minister David Cameron in the London office of their TV production company and backed his stance of remaining in the EU.
“It’s an extraordinary thing that James and I only agree on three things: which sandwich spread is delicious, the old Subaru Legacy Outback is a good car and Britain staying in,” The Guardian quoted Clarkson as telling Cameron. “I have not, with the greatest of respect, heard one politician say anything that’s caused me to change my mind.” He added: “There’s huge numbers that don’t understand and get confused. Really, it’s my gut.”
Meanwhile, Cleese (Fawlty Towers) in a Twitter tirade earlier this month said: “If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU, I'd vote to stay in. But there isn't. Sad.” He also argued that Britain has been “swimming against the tide,” but EU bureaucrats have taken away “any trace of democratic accountability.” His suggestions for EU reforms that he mentioned included: “give up the Euro, introduce accountability.”
On Monday morning, independent British film and TV production group Argonon came out in favor of voting to remain in the European Union in advance of the referendum. Said CEO James Burstall: “I am a passionate Brit and I love Britain. I also feel a personal, professional and moral responsibility to make our view clear because I believe this to be in the best interests of Argonon and its people, the U.K. film and television industry and indeed the U.K. as a whole.”
Stocks in Europe and elsewhere rose Monday after weekend polls suggested the U.K. was slightly more likely to stay in the EU. The broad-based Stoxx Europe 600 index was higher in mid-day trading, and the British pound surged against the dollar.
A latest survey in the Mail on Sunday showed that 45 percent wanted the U.K. to remain in the EU, compared with 42 percent who were in favor of an exit. The poll-of-polls, which shows the averages for the last six surveys, returned to a 50:50 split after previously going in favor of the leave camp, signaling momentum for British supporters of the EU.
Hundreds of stars and showbiz insiders have previously expressed their views on the Brexit debate and what a U.K. exit from the EU would mean for the entertainment industry.
More than 250 British celebrities — including Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keira Knightley, Jude Law and director Steve McQueen — signed a "love letter" June 2 urging Brits to oppose the Brexit. "Our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away," the letter said. "From the smallest gallery to the biggest blockbuster, many of us have worked on projects that would never have happened without vital funding or by collaborating across borders.”
The stars believe the fate of Hollywood's favorite overseas backlot could be jeopardized if EU-backed film subsidies are lost and the British government does not introduce new incentives.
Meanwhile, Oscar winner Michael Caine has argued that Britain would be better off alone without "being dictated to by thousands of faceless bureaucrats” in Brussels, where many EU decisions are made. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has also called the 28-nation EU an "autocratic and anti-democratic" institution that should not influence the British parliament.
A Brexit would reduce U.K. advertising revenue growth by $102 million (£70 million) each year, or $1.45 billion overall by 2030, according to a forecast from media planning firm ZenithOptimedia. "This damage would be caused by a reduction in economic growth in the long term, not by advertisers’ short‐term reaction to a vote to leave, which is likely to be minimal," the company said in a recent report.
In a Monday update, it wrote: “Brexit would also add to business and consumer uncertainty across Europe, creating downside risk for the whole region."
ITV has also said that Brexit fears have weighed on advertising decisions.