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The Spectator poll: Are You In or Out? Bob Geldof, Tim Rice & Joey Essex have their say

27 May 2016

3:30 PM

27 May 2016

3:30 PM

The Spectator’s EU Poll asked a fairly random group of well-known people how they’d vote in the EU referendum, and this is what they said:

Sir Tim Rice, lyricist:

‘In 1975 I voted to stay in the Common Market from a standpoint of ignorance. In 2016 I shall vote to leave the EU, as a rebel without a clue. This is a gut reaction which I trust far more than the barrage of misinformation churned out by both sides of the campaign but overwhelmingly by the Remain camp. At least this time round I know I don’t know anything which is more than can be said for most of the campaigners. It would be good to spend one’s final years as part of a truly independent nation once more. I am intrigued that Mr. Cameron has failed to notice that the voting is to take place exactly 6 years, 6 weeks and 6 days since the General Election of 6 May 2010 which first brought him to power. 666. He is clearly not superstitious.’

Gyles Brandreth, author and broadcaster:

‘My favourite song is the ‘Hokey Cokey’ – in, out, in, out, you shake it all about, so I’ve got time but I will probably say ‘stay’.’

Bob Geldof, singer:

‘I’m IN with the In Crowd. And for one specific reason above all else. Put aside the minor EU irritations of the moment. If Britain becomes the loose thread that begins the unravelling of the EU cardigan then we are in trouble. The peace that by and large has pertained as a result of this elegant compact will end. Europe will fragment to its tribal allegiances, small economies will descend to old and petty differences sucking in larger neighbours and alliances, larger poorer states will become more authoritarian and revanchist Russia will watch and wait. The East unmoored and no longer offered the benefits of a wider economy and greater wealth on condition of decent behaviour will fall prey to Putins or anothers blandishments. Western Europe will retract to their own internal differences. The values we actually share as opposed to parrot will become as naught and Britain standing off in its historic role will be in deep trouble.

The wealth that the peace has enabled and that allows this small island to be a massive global economic power whether trading in- or externally will be in the balance and the awful need of Britain to once again impose by arms a peace upon Europe will arise. And once again many, many young Britons will be despatched to war. I will NEVER vote for that possibility.’

Dan Snow, television presenter:

‘For thousands of years we have lived with the consequences of what happens in Europe. The Channel has been a highway rather than a barrier. As a result our greatest strategists have attempted to project British influence within Europe rather than watch and wait as passive recipients. They have done so through entering alliances and coalitions. These arrangements have been messy, irksome, inefficient and represented a dilution of sovereignty, but, ultimately effective. Inside the EU at least we have a chance at shaping our destiny, I suspect we wouldn’t if we were out. Another doctrine of successful British leaders has been to avoid disunity within the British Isles. Brexit would boost separatism in Scotland, and complicate matters in Ireland. Strategically, my priorities would be to maintain unity within Britain and influence within Europe. I’m voting In.’


Lord Dobbs, Conservative peer:

‘The dream is dead. Instead of peace and prosperity, the EU has delivered only growing chaos. It doesn’t serve the people of Europe – how can it? It was created by elites, for elites. My last hope for the EU died when the German Finance Minister proclaimed ‘elections change nothing’. I fear he might be right. There is a better way. Britain is the world’s 5th largest economy with a superbly adaptable workforce, it has three of the world’s 10 best universities and is crammed full of talent and expertise. That’s how we were able to stage the finest Olympic Games the modern world has ever seen, ironically just as the home of the ancient Olympics in Greece is being destroyed by mindless Eurocrats. The EU has no sound borders and has an incoherent currency, it waits helplessly for the next crisis. That’s why it’s defenders have to resort to Project Fear, which grows more like mad King Lear with every sound bite. I prefer Project Hope. It’s time to take back control of our own future. Not leaving Europe, just leaving a failing institution. If we weren’t already a member, would we vote to join it? Of course not.’

Joey Essex, television personality:

‘I get the whole in-out-in-out-in-out bit but not much else. I’m still trying to work it all out.’

Gary Shteyngart, novelist:

Hmm, if Britain leaves the EU, will the City collapse, oligarchs flee and will I be able to afford a cup of tea next time I visit? Then I’m all for it!

Sir James MacMillan, composer:

‘After the Scottish government-inspired populist witch-hunt of opposing voices in the Scottish Referendum I’m shy of declaring my views on this one, but I do have some questions:
After 1989 why have the European elites failed to denounce the immorality of Communism? Why have the same elites supported the likes of Yasser Arafat and the Iranian governments? Why are extremist parties well supported and why is anti-Americanism on the rise in Europe? Is it true that productivity is declining in mainland Europe? Why is EU-style democracy not good enough? Why is their bureaucracy so unwieldy? Why do the European elites hate Christianity? Why is anti-semitism on the rise on the European Left? Why is Europe committing demographic suicide, failing to reproduce its populations to sustain their expensive welfare, health and pension systems? Why does Europe look like it has given up hope in its future?’

Helen Lederer, comedian:

‘Apart from Brexit sounding like a breakfast bar for commuters in a hurry, I’m not sure I’m buying in to this short cut to a safer destination. Without the protection of a larger constitution nothing is safe. Not that I’m scared, I just like the devil I know. The dark side is familiar and the pitfalls navigable. And I like to listen to my elders. George Monbiot (don’t know his exact age) said: ‘The EU is like democracy, diplomacy and old age: there is only one thing to be said for it – it is not as bad as the alternative’. Basically, there’s being alone and there’s being lonely.’

Peter Stringfellow, nightclub owner:

‘As a father to two young children, I have to think about their futures when it comes to the EU referendum – that’s what is at stake. People of my age want to know what Thatcher would have done but it was a different world back then. Instead you look to today’s leaders. I love Boris and we have had a lot of good times together but he is yet to convince me of the need to leave. The only person with a clear message and a clear argument is David Cameron. So unless someone can offer me a strong argument for leaving Europe before the 23 June, I will be backing In.’

Will Britain vote to leave the EU? Can the Tories survive the aftermath? Join James Forsyth, Isabel Hardman and Fraser Nelson to discuss at a subscriber-only event at the Royal Institution, Mayfair, on Monday 20 June. Tickets are on sale now. Not a subscriber? Click here to join us, from just £1 a week. 


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