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Interview: Eddie Izzard

22nd June 2016

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Eddie Izzard has been one of the most vocal proponents of the Remain camp, fighting urgently for young people to vote ahead of the historic EU Referendum on 23rd June.

Today he was in London’s Soho, hoping to give a final push to his ardent campaign to stay in the European Union before we finally head to the polls tomorrow.

In the Soho tattoo parlour where we meet to discuss the referendum (tattoos symbolising the permanence of the choice we are about to make) Izzard reminds us that, unlike their parents, young people “haven’t spent years and years and decades thinking about it—they’re doing it on a gut level.”

The implication is that the gut feeling Izzard believes many young people have – about the opportunities that are available in Europe, the social and cultural benefits, separate European communities working with, rather than against, each other – are the ones that should lead their decision at the ballot box.

Izzard believes that “the United Kingdom, much like the EU, was built by “keeping the doors open” – so as a continent we should “put out our hands and trade together, work together, live together.

“That’s what the United Kingdom was built on and that’s what the European Union was built on.”

The overall message, he believes, is one of love – and for lessons in that we should look to recently returned to Earth astronaut Tim Peake.

“When I ran 27 marathons across South Africa, Tim Peake, the astronaut, phoned me from up in the International Space Station,” Izzard says. “And the beautiful thing about the International Space Station is that there are Russians and Americans and Europeans, but they all get on. No matter what’s happening politically on earth, they keep getting on up there and keep going forth for humanity, for science, for the ideas they’re working on—biology, physics. And that’s a positive thing. We should be like the people at the International Space Station.”

He’s dismissive of the Leave campaign, calling Nigel Farage’s much-maligned poster from last week a “horrible way of thinking” and accusing Brexit proponents of “just making up numbers” and “scaremongering about immigrants”. He cites recent Leave defectors Sarah Wollaston and Baroness Warsi as proof that the Leave campaign is floundering.

He also believes that Farage’s family background -“he comes from an immigrant family. So this is someone who has made this success out of being an immigrant, and then he hates immigrants” - does not give off “a good message.”

Izzard also spoke about how important it is not to let the future be decided by the older generation, who are “all signed up and ready to vote”, when “75% to 80% of people under 35 are positive about Europe.

“You may have not decided what you want to do in life, but don’t put a brick wall up,” he says. “It’s not what humans do.”

Young people, he believes, “shouldn’t let an older generation decide the future for them. I’ll say that again. They should realize that an older generation is going to decide the future for them if they don’t vote.”

He adds that this vote is “Above all for humanity... We have to head towards a world where everyone has a fair chance.”

We agree. So remember: use your vote.

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