Actor John Cleese Tweets That London Is 'No Longer an English City'

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Posted: May 29, 2019 3:15 PM
Actor John Cleese Tweets That London Is 'No Longer an English City'

Source: AP Photo/ Edmond Terakopian

John Cleese, an English actor perhaps best known for his work with the Monty Python comedy group, was trending this morning, but not because the 79-year-old comedic treasure has passed. Rather, Cleese had tweeted his observation that London was “not really an English city any more,” setting off a predictable firestorm of accusations of bigotry.

“Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more. Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it...I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the EU,” Cleese tweeted Wednesday to his 5.7 million followers.

Cleese, who reportedly moved to the “safe and beautiful” Caribbean island of Nevis last year, has long been outspoken in his support of Brexit.

The deluge of ugliness that followed his latest tweet included sharp criticism from writer Caitlin Moran, who made her assessment of Cleese’s motivation painfully clear—the man obviously hates immigrants.

“John Cleese is in the process of moving to Nevis, in the Caribbean. I hope there's a old Nevisian comedian ready to moan about how Charlestown won't ‘really be a Nevisian town any more.’ Goddamn immigrants,” she tweeted.

Jon Stone, a correspondent for The Independent, called Cleese a bigot and accused him of damaging British culture.

“the only thing damaging British culture here is John Cleese turning out to be a bigot and thus spoiling the enjoyment of his back-catalogue,” Stone tweeted.

Later Wednesday, Cleese clarified the tweet in question, taking a subtle jab at those who equated his reference to London's departure from "Englishness" with the city's embrace of multiculturalism. 

Some, like conservative academic Dr. Adrian Hilton, urged caution in jumping too quickly in assuming Cleese’s statement was driven by racism.

“Curious thing is that @JohnCleese  didn't mention DNA. Why does @DavidLammy always view contrary opinion through the predetermined lens of racism? Surely the point Cleese makes is that many no longer share our national stories or respect our institutions or abide by common values?” Hilton tweeted in response to David Lammy, a British Labour party politician and member of Parliament.

In August of 2017, Cleese explained his pro-Brexit stance to Screen Daily.

“I don’t want to be run by a bunch of European bureaucrats because they always look after themselves first,” he commented at the time.

Cleese is not shy about his opinions on American politics, either. 

In an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last summer, he called former Attorney General Eric Holder “fantastic” and a “great man,” adding that he would support Holder should he run for president in 2020. 

In the same show, he told Colbert the British do not care for President Trump adding that Trump “doesn’t trust anyone in charge of a democracy.”