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Brexiteer artists ‘come out of the closet’ with John Cleese, Sir Michael Caine and Roger Daltrey among ‘creative 4 per cent’ who back Leave

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They are unlikely advocates for divorce from the European Union.

But a minority pro-Brexit group of artists have decided to come forward about their views on the referendum, after being shunned by friends.

Artists 4 Brexit began in a Wetherspoon’s in Camden, North London.

John Cleese
Sir Michael Caine

Actors including John Cleese (left) and Sir Michael Caine (right) are the small minority that have openly decided to express their pro-Brexit views

Founding member Manick Govinda, 55, told The Times: ‘We are the 4 per cent in the cultural sector. Maybe there is slightly more. We don’t know. 

‘People are worried they may not get work, their names may get dropped from commissions or galleries. We hope now that others may come out of the closet.’

A survey conducted by the Creative Industries Federation discovered that 96 per cent of members disagreed with the Brexit referendum result.

Many of the cultural world’s stars have even come forward to express their concerns about a post-Brexit Britain.

Roger Daltrey
Susan Hill

The Who rocker Roger Daltrey (left) and author of The Woman in Black Susan Hill (right) are also among those who have openly decided to fight for the pro-Brexit corner

But actors including John Cleese, 78, Sir Michael Caine, the Who rocker Roger Daltrey, 73 and novelist Dreda Say Mitchell, 52, are the small minority that have openly decided to fight for the other corner.

Pro-Brexit stars who have openly backed the referendum vote

JOHN CLEESE

‘I don’t think Brexit was a mistake, myself. I’m rather delighted that all these forecasts of doom and destruction have turned out, at this point, not to have been real. I don’t want to be ruled by Brussels bureaucrats who want to create a super state. I was pro-Brexit for that reason. If I had three words to sum up why we had to get out of Europe, they would be: Jean-Claude Juncker. He’s a little jumped up Luxemb****r who’s never really had a proper job.’

 

SIR MICHAEL CAINE

‘I voted for Brexit. What it is with me, I’d rather be a poor master than a rich servant. It wasn’t about the racism, immigrants or anything, it was about freedom. Politics is always chaotic. In politics, you’re always going into areas you’ve never been before, so you’re going to get lost and then you’re going to find your way, and then it’ll be all right.’

 

ROGER DALTREY

‘We are getting out, and when the dust settles I think that it’ll be seen that it’s the right thing for this country to have done, that’s for sure. It’s got nothing to do with any of the immigration issues or any of that for me. It was to do with much more. The majority of this country felt that their voices weren’t being heard. It would have been nice to do a deal with Europe but they didn’t want to do a deal, and they sent Cameron back with a bag.’

 

SUSAN HILL

‘Brexit has been as bad as any surge in washing away hitherto strong foundations. I am talking about friendships. I have never known the like. To be called a racist, a ‘little Englander’ and worse was bad enough, but to have people one has long known and liked say they could no longer be friends with “someone like you” was very shocking.’ 

Author of The Woman in Black Susan Hill, 76, has spoken in the past about how her friends called her ‘racist’, a ‘little Englander’ and distanced themselves from her for her decision to leave the EU. 

The artist who formed the fledgling group, Michael Lightfoot, 41, told The Times that several members had faced similar experiences.

He said: ‘Most of our friends are Remain supporters and there is a substantial chunk that have turned into monsters.

‘They have become hysterical about it. I have lost an awful lot of friends. I have had hate mail. 

‘There is this phenomenon of ‘closet Brexiteers’. It is one thing to have different views and another to feel that you can’t express them. 

‘I think there are an awful lot of people in the arts community that are institutionalised to this idea that you have to play along with certain ideologies to get funded.’ 

Meanwhile, Mr Govinda – an administrator and visual arts producer – described the response on social media as ‘toxic’.

He also said that those in support of Brexit were labelled as xenophobic, adding: ‘This is a terrible stereotyping of the 17.5 million people who voted to leave.

‘When the referendum result came out a lot of fellow artists accused me of siding with the likes of EDL and Ukip and that my vote was a vote for racism. There was a lot of harshness.

The group met in the Wetherspoon’s last month and also include London’s former deputy mayor for culture Munira Mirza and the artist Miriam Elia.

Mr Govinda added: ‘What other artists have written about Brexit is very doom and gloom. 

‘We wanted a counterpoint to that narrative. There is a lot of scaremongering. We are the Lesser Bohemians.’ 

He claimed that there was a risk of people turning against the arts due to differing Brexit views. ‘It is dangerous,’ he added. ‘The arts community can alienate the wider public.’

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