3rd Dec, 2016

Coventry's history of peace must be remembered in EU Referendum vote, says comedian Eddie Izzard

Coventry Editorial 8th Jun, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

COMEDIAN turned EU Referendum campaigner, Eddie Izzard, has urged Coventry voters to consider the city’s history of peace and reconciliation as they go to the polls later this month.

His calls came as part of a visit to the University of Warwick on his ‘Stand up for Europe’ tour, where he spoke to a crowded room at the Warwick Arts Centre on the university campus – urging audience members to vote to remain in the EU.

The tour will see him visit 31 cities in 31 days in a bid to get young people to register and get engaged in discussions around Britain’s EU membership.

Speaking to Observer news editor, Lauren Clarke, Eddie Izzard urged Coventrians to consider the city’s identity of peace and reconciliation as they go to the polls on June 23.

“Coventry went through hell in the Second World War and the bombing was awful,” he said.

“The EU was set up specifically to ensure wars like that do not happen again.

“Now alarmists are saying there will be another world war, and we have to remember that the First World War was not called that at the time – it was called the Great War and the ‘war to end all wars’.

“But that obviously didn’t happen.”

Mr Izzard, who famously ran 27 marathons in 27 days around South Africa for Sport Relief and often performs his stand-up in different languages, argued Remain voters had a harder job articulating their views against the often ‘vociferous and angry’ Leave campaign.

The comedian-cum campaigner posed for photos with students.

“I don’t think the arguments to leave the EU are the correct ones, but I think if you’re campaigning to remain in you’re talking about something bigger than patriotism – it’s much harder to articulate,” he explained.

“The arguments for coming together have always been more complex – as you have to be both patriotic and outward looking.

“I am proud to be British and I am proud to be European – I support the English football team when it’s playing in the Euros, Team GB in the Olympic Games or the European team in the Ryder Cup.

“But it is far easier for the other side as they can be patriotic and inward looking and can say they would not trust people from other countries because they speak different languages, for example.

“And this mistrust can ramp up very easily into xenophobia.”

Mr Izzard also spoke about the importance of running a positive campaign – away from the ‘scaremongering’ both the Remain and Vote Leave campaign groups have been accused of.

And with the deadline for voter registration having closed, Mr Izzard said these last two weeks were not only vital in engaging in discussions with both sides of the argument, but reaching out to those yet to decide how they will vote.

“From my perspective in these last few weeks it’s about staying positive by getting out there – by meeting people and via social media – and encouraging people to vote to remain in the European Union.

“We have to remain positive as we fight for every vote we can get, because after all, despair is the fuel of terrorism while hope is the fuel of civilisation.”