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British stars from Cumberbatch to Knightley back staying in EU

LONDON (AFP) – British stars including Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Patrick Stewart urged voters to back staying in the European Union in a joint letter published on Friday.

Signed by 282 people from the worlds of film, music and literature, the letter was published in the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian as Britain prepares for a June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the 28-member bloc.

“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,” the letter read.

“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.”

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy put their name to the call, as did authors Hilary Mantel and John le Carre, and designer Vivienne Westwood.

Actors Helena Bonham Carter, Kristin Scott Thomas, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Dominic West also signed, as did music stars Hot Chip and Paloma Faith.

Prime Minister David 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.

The latest polls show growing support for Britain to remain in the European Union with an average compiled by the WhatUKThinks website on Friday showing “Remain” ahead with 55 percent, compared to 45 percent for “Leave”.

Citing William Shakespeare and David Bowie, the letter said 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,” it read.

“Let’s not become an outsider shouting from the wings.”

‘The EU dream is dead’

John Sorrell, chairman of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “We benefit from a vast network of talented people, companies and institutions across Europe.”

He said creative industries contributed 84.1 billion (109.2 billion euros/$122.6 billion) to the British economy and its position as a “vital creative hub is a huge part of this success”.

But Michael Dobbs, a Conservative member of the British upper house of parliament who helped write and produce the Netflix hit series “House of Cards”, said Britain’s strength in the arts was “not because of the EU”.

Ancient Greece was the birthplace of our civilisation yet today, because of the EU’s appalling policies, streets that were once filled with the world’s greatest philosophers and playwrights are choked with desperate beggars and mountains of rotting rubbish,” he said.

“These are the realities of the EU. It’s failing. The dream is dead. We need to move on.”


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