John Cleese receives backlash for implying London is no longer English because of immigrants
And now for something completely the same.
John Cleese has doubled down on his opinion that London is no longer an English city because of its changing demographics. The “Monty Python” and “Fawlty Towers” star didn’t say so in so many words, but the implication that immigrants have altered London was there in a tweet that made mention of city’s opposition to Brexit.
In addition, Cleese said he received some backing from friends who live overseas and far away from London. The 79-year-old comic, by the way, no longer resides in the United Kingdom himself, having picked up last year for the Caribbean island of Nevis.
There were some who found it comedic that someone who has freely chosen to live in a country where he was not born would complain about immigrants. More on that later, but first here was Cleese’s tweet:
“Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more
“Since then, virtually all my friends 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”
A professor of history at Northumbria University called out expat Cleese, saying that his tweet was meant to fan the flames about Britain’s stalled Brexit strategy, according to the Guardian.
“I find it hypocritical that someone who is actually living abroad feels the need to make a point like this,” professor Tanja Bueltmann said. “Why do some British people not see themselves as immigrants if they’ve moved elsewhere? We see cases of British people referring to themselves as expats, detaching themselves from the term immigrant.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also weighed in.
“These comments make John Cleese sound like he’s in character as Basil Fawlty,” said Khan, referring to Cleese’s “Fawlty Towers” character. “Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength. We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub.”
Responses to Cleese’s tweet varied. Some went as far as to call him a racist, while others agreed with his assessment.
Following the controversy, Cleese sent a follow-up tweet in an effort to clarify his original statement.
“I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing, 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,” he wrote.
In last year’s story about Cleese’s relocation to Nevis, which is part of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Guardian quoted him as saying, “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.”