Article: Rhydian Morris / Photo: Oluwaseyitan Oluwatosin
Eddie izzard visited Swansea University this Saturday in his nationwide effort to promote registration for young people and his campaign for a positive argument for remaining in the EU. Eddie izzard, an extremely popular and successful British comedian, has launched a recent effort to tour 31 different cities to campaign for a remain vote in the upcoming European Union referendum. The campaign “Stand up for Europe” aims to promote a positive argument for Europe and for Britain to remain within the European Union.
Eddie’s passion for this campaign stems from his personal experience of living in several different countries throughout his life, and the experiences and opportunities Europe has personally granted him. The popular comedian has toured and performed in venues throughout Europe, in both French and German along with his native language of English. Speaking on how he views Europe the comedian passionately said that he considers himself “a British European” and that he “truly loves and likes meeting and getting to know people”. He believes this drive is at the core of why people should be pro-European. He argues that leaving the Europe would send us “backwards as a country” and that we “should strive to go forward and not put up barriers between people and cultures”.
In interviews to student media prior to the talk, Eddie expressed his reasoning for launching the campaign, being to “promote a real positive argument for remaining in Europe”. He stressed to students and young people to register for the referendum regardless of their viewpoint, though pushed that young people should use their voice, as projections show 75% support for remain among young voters.
Eddie in his talk touched on the issue of the economy, which has been a strong consistent argument for the remain vote. When questioned by an audience member on the authenticity of economic predictions for the effect of leaving the eu, Eddie said “These people’s jobs rely on making predictions on economic circumstances, every single organisation from the IMF to the Bank of England argues that there will be significant negative effect on Britain’s economy when leaving the Eu, I personally don’t think all of them are lying”.
While he does admit there is an issue of democracy in Europe, he argues that this cannot be solved if Britain decides to leave and not engage with the rest of the continent. In his talk Eddie brought up the issue of Norway which is not a member of the union, but still has to abide by the rules and regulations of the European economic area, despite having no say in those rules. A situation that would likely be similar for Britain if it left the union. He further emphasised that the issue of unelected European commissioners is not clear cut, describing it as “a circular argument, you ask for elected commissioners and the other side say oh no that’s a super state, and if you argue for the status quo they claim a lack of democracy, it’s an argument that has no clear answer”. He further emphasised that there is democracy in Europe “maybe not as much as you or I would like, but we have to be part of the discussion and movement to change”.
Eddie was further challenged on the positivity of his campaign, with one questioner asking whether the campaign was truly positive due to Eddie saying negative things regarding the prospects of leaving and of the conduct of the leave campaign. Eddie responded with “Yes I have said some negative things, but that’s human nature, people only respond to the negative. If you’re on one side of the argument you have to challenge the other side, there really is no way of getting away from it. I have tried to be positive though, and say positive things as I want to promote a positive message”.
The majority of his talk was focused on the idea of progress and positivity. While Eddie did agree that he did not fully know the impact of a Leave vote on the United kingdom, he argued a more united Europe is a positive progressive step in History and that “culture and rights have more or less always gone forwards and upwards”. He believes leaving the union would be a step back in this progress, rather than forward “We are the United Kingdom, not the hatey kingdom”.
No matter the way you vote I would urge you to register. The deadline for registration is on the 7th June.
If you would like to view the talk, there is a live stream at the Student’s Union Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/swanseaunion/videos/10156966667060554/