Politicians from across the spectrum have had their say on Brexit. So, too, have various business leaders. Spy chiefs have spoken out. And even Ian Botham has chipped in to spell out his opinion on the EU referendum. So it was probably just a matter of time before the luvvies did the same. And today they’ve done just that: Jude Law, Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch are amongst some 300 actors and musicians who have backed the call for Britain to stay in the EU. In a letter, put together by Britain Stronger in Europe, they urged Britain not to become ‘an outsider shouting from the wings’. The letter goes on to warn that:
‘Leaving Europe would be a leap into the unknown for millions of people across the UK who work in the creative industries and for the millions more at home and abroad who benefit from the growth and vibrancy of Britain’s cultural sector. We believe that being part of the EU bolsters Britain’s leading role on the world stage.’
It’s difficult to know where to start with asking whether the argument put forward holds water because there seems so little of substance actually there. Take this, for instance:
‘Britain is not just stronger in Europe, it is more imaginative and more creative and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.’
How can a political union make a country more imaginative? The answer is, of course, that it can’t. But the purpose of this letter seems to be to link together the EU as a political entity with Europe’s culture. The argument goes that if we leave the EU, we’ll also be leaving behind the good bits of Europe - its languages and history. To put it bluntly, this doesn’t really make sense. Britain’s physical proximity to Europe would remain intact if Brexit happened. And given that this country has been shaped by European influences for hundreds, if not thousands of years – rather than just the 43 years we’ve been a part of the ‘European community’ – it seems safe to say that we’d still be ‘imaginatively’ influenced by our European neighbours however the country votes on June 23rd.
What’s more, the letter also ignores the simple fact that the biggest film markets are all outside the EU. Hollywood isn’t there. Nor, too, is Bollywood. And where is the second largest film industry in the world? It’s not in France and it’s not Germany’s or Italy's, but it is, in fact, in Nigeria. So despite the view put forward in the letter that 'vital EU funding' has helped film projects off the ground, it seems that other countries' film industries are coping well with not getting cash from Brussels.
But another obvious attraction of Britain’s film industry for export isn’t our country’s membership of the EU. It’s the fact that performers speak English which makes the films we produce and make here in the UK easily marketable in the US and abroad.
Britain’s luvvies are entitled to their say on the EU referendum, just like the rest of us. But dressing up their own personal views to paint Brexit as a wider industry threat adds nothing new to the EU debate. This letter isn't worth the paper it's written on.