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Over 250 UK stars plead against Brexit

May 20, 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter and Jude Law are among the nearly 300 British actors, musicians and other leading arts figures to urge Britain to remain in the EU, amidst the current referendum campaigns.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Copyright: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Short
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Short

Almost 300 actors, writers, musicians and other cultural figures on Friday urged British voters to back the Remain camp in a June 23 referendum on EU membership.

A vote to leave the 28-nation bloc would leave the UK "an outsider shouting from the wings," they argue in a letter organized by the "Britain Stronger In Europe" campaign and published in "The Daily Telegraph."

Signatories to the letter include "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch, "X-Men" superhero Patrick Stewart, Jude Law, Keira Knightley, Kristin Scott Thomas, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Helena Bonham Carter.

They were joined by spy novelist John le Carre, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle, singer Paloma Faith and the members of rock band Franz Ferdinand.

Vivienne Westwood, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Rain
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is among the 282 signatories of the open letterImage: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Rain

The signatories say many creative projects "would never have happened without vital EU funding or by collaborating across borders." They argue that Britain's creative success "would be severely weakened by walking away."

"From the Bard to Bowie, British creativity inspires and influences the rest of the world. We believe that being part of the EU bolsters Britain's leading role on the world stage," the stars say.

Leap into the unknown

Culture is a substantial British export. One in six music albums sold in 2015 was by a British act, and UK actors regularly headline Hollywood films, according to the British "Phonographic Industry."

"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," the signatories say.

Underscoring the artists' message, Prime Minister David Cameron mingled Friday with stars from the Remain camp during a visit to London's Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles once recorded.

Support is not absolute

Cameron has warned that leaving the EU would damage Britain's economy, but those campaigning to leave argue it will save money and give Britain greater control over immigration.

Brexit-backers include actor Michael Caine and singer Roger Daltrey of The Who.

Michael Dobbs, a Conservative member of the British upper house of parliament who wrote the original British 1990s series "House of Cards," says Britain's creative industries are booming "because of the talent that is in Britain's DNA," and not because of the EU.

"The EU is failing, the dream is dead," Dobbs says. "We need to move on."

db/eg (AP,AFP, dpa)