Film stars who signed a letter urging Britons to vote to stay within the European Union (EU) benefited from millions of pounds of EU funding, it has emerged.
Some even appeared in a glossy brochure promoting highly lucrative grants available from the EU’s MEDIA scheme, which has handed millions of euros of taxpayer money to projects featuring highly paid international stars.
Research by the Telegraph has found that British film and television projects were handed €28million of taxpayer money over the last seven years. Millions more was spent on helping to export films to the rest of the world.
Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Helena Bonham Carter, all of whom signed the letter, have also appeared in glossy literature promoting EU grants. The brochures also feature stills from films by Mike Leigh and Danny Boyle, who were also signatories.
The letter, which appeared in two broadsheet papers, somewhat ludicrously claimed that “Britain is not just stronger in the EU, it is more imaginative and creative.”
“From the Bard to Bowie, British creativity inspires the world,” the signatories enthused, before using theatrically themed language to urged Britons to vote to remain in the EU, saying: “Let’s not become an outsider shouting from the wings.”
But it has drawn much derision, not least from Breitbart’s James Delingpole, who thanked them for their unique contribution to the Brexit debate, but noted: “I can’t help noticing that Shakespeare actually predates the invention of the European superstate.
“Also – and I realise I’m out on a limb here with my wild speculation – but in a parallel universe where Britain did not have its toasters governed by 250 regulations from the European Union and a 28 star flag flying outside the Financial Times, I do believe that it’s entirely possible that David Bowie would STILL have written Life On Mars, painted that zigzag on his face, had sex with Mick Ronson’s guitar, hung out in Berlin with Iggy Pop, done the Ashes to Ashes video with Steve Strange, and recorded Blackstar without any of that vital “imaginative and creative” input from our EU membership.”
Pro-Brexit Conservative MP James Cleverley has said that the stars ought to have declared their financial interest in the EU when making their intervention, in much the same way as Parliamentarians must.
“I know people on the Brexit side of the argument have been accused of being conspiracy theorists but one of the reasons why in Parliament we have to declare an interest is so you know what our motives are,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s illegitimate to remind voters that many of the people who are trying to persuade us to stay in the EU get money from the EU and people should be aware of that when they listen to what they say.”
Meanwhile the Justice Secretary has advised people to ignore the letter, saying: “I don’t think people should be swayed by celebrities, I think they should listen to the arguments.”
When asked whether the Leave campaign would produce a star-studded letter of their own, he replied: “Just you wait and see.”