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Hollywood’s UK Community Debates Brexit: Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley want to "bremain," while Michael Caine and Julian Fellowes would rather "brexit."

Britain doesn’t have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but our friends across the pond are nevertheless faced with a hugely significant political decision of their own. Thursday’s vote on Brexit — the colloquial name given to the United Kingdom’s upcoming vote on whether or not to remain in the European Union — is a divisive issue, of course, with the husband of slain MP Jo Cox saying that the 41-year-old politician was murdered because of her strong political beliefs. The Economist currently tracks the polls at 44 percent in favor of remaining (or “bremaining”), 43 percent hoping to leave (“brexit”) and 11 percent undecided.

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The divide doesn’t appear to be as sharp in the film industry, however, with more than 250 British celebrities (Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Steve McQueen among them) signing a letter in support of staying in the EU earlier this month. “Britain is not just stronger in Europe,” the letter reads, “it is more imaginative and more creative, and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.” Others who wish to keep things as they are: Daniel Craig, Helena Bonham Carter, J.K. Rowling, Simon Cowell, Jeremy Clarkson, Idris Elba, Bill Nighy, Sir Ian McKellan and Dominic West.

A group of producers from the UK likewise released a statement in favor of “bremaining” today, including Tim Bevan, Graham Broadbent, Finola Dwyer, Eric Fellner, Rebecca O’Brien, Nira Park and Matthew Vaughn. The statement, which extols the EU’s virtues through the lens of its benefit on the UK’s film industry in particular, argues in part that “being in the EU means that our feature films, our television programmes and our games can travel far more easily across borders because they are not subject to quotas or taxes of any kind in Europe.”

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On the other side of the aisle are Michael Caine, John Cleese, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Hurley and “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes. Caine believes his country no longer needs to be “dictated to by thousands of faceless bureaucrats” in Brussels, while Fellowes has called the EU “autocratic and anti-democratic.” Cleese, for his part, tweeted earlier this month that “If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU, I’d vote to stay in. But there isn’t. Sad. Sorry, Paddy.”

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