John Cleese says London 'not really an English city any more', prompting dog-whistle racism claims

Actor, who now lives in the Caribbean, doubles down on remarks made in 2011

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 29 May 2019 13:53
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John Cleese on why he is leaving the country:'I'm so disappointed with so much about this country'

John Cleese has been criticised after reiterating his belief that London is not “an English city anymore”.

The British actor, 79, tweeted a message reminding his 5.6 million followers that he expressed the same belief in 2011 this time adding that his friends abroad now agree with him.

“There must be some truth in it,” he wrote, adding: ”I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the EU."

His comments have attracted ire from many Twitter users, including comedian Dom Joly, who were quick to point out the irony considering the Monty Python member now lives in the Caribbean.

“He’s clearly a really smart funny man but it is basically a very racist tweet," Joly wrote. "Secondly, its a racist tweet by a man who lives on a Caribbean island – the irony of that is insane."

Author Caitlin Moran added: “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.”

Writer James Felton tweeted: "Hi I'm John Cleese. Today I'll be complaining there are too many immigrants in London from my home where I live in the Caribbean."

On Wednesday evening, Cleese returned to Twitter to defend his statements and respond to some of his detractors.

“I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing,” he wrote, responding to one user who told him she “can’t stand Englishness”.

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“But in some ways I found it calmer, more polite, more humorous, less tabloid, and less money-oriented than the one that is replacing it.”

Cleese also rebuked a user who accused him of using the word “English” to imply the city was no longer “white”.

“No. Why do you try to discredit me for criticising things I have not said,” he replied. “Keep your projections to yourself.”

Cleese, who said he was going to vote for Brexit ahead of the EU referendum in 2017, announced plans to move to the Caribbean last year expressing a disappointment with Britain.

The actor, who co-founded iconic comedy troupe Monty Python before going on to co-write and star in the sitcom Fawlty Towers, argued the standard of debate around Brexit was “awful”.

Cleese, who turned down a life peerage for political services in 1999, has been an outspoken supporter of electoral and press reform.

Talking about his new home on Newsnight in 2018, he said: “It’s one of the nicest islands I’ve ever been on. The relationship between the races is absolutely superb. The people there are really kind.”

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