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Once it seemed that the only thing George Soros and David Beckham had in common was an experience of big-money moves out of the UK. But on Tuesday both men lent their support to the Remain campaign.
The question is whether the Leave campaign, which has effectively mocked the reliability of experts, will be able to shrug off the opinions of celebrities and self-made business people.
Celebrity backing has been far easier to come by for the Remain campaign.
A survey by the Creative Industries Federation, an arts lobby group, found that 96 per cent of its members supported Britain’s EU membership. Britain Stronger In Europe has the support of broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, the scientist Stephen Hawking, author JK Rowling, and singer Sir Elton John. On Monday Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin entrepreneur, added his weight.
The Leave campaign does have the backing of actor Sir Michael Caine, cricketer Sir Ian Botham, author Dame Joan Collins, screenwriter Sir Julian Fellowes and billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Dyson.
But attempts by Leave. EU, a campaign group, to organise a pro-Brexit pop concert collapsed, after several bands scheduled to play withdrew.
Mr Beckham’s endorsement was an additional finger in the eye for Leave. EU, which had claimed his wife Victoria backed Brexit. Leave.EU pointed to a 1996 quote by Ms Beckham: “Euro-bureaucrats are destroying every bit of national identity and individuality.”
That quote came before she and her husband spent spells living in Madrid, Milan and Paris. “Those great European cities and their passionate fans welcomed me and my family and gave us the opportunity to enjoy their unique and inspiring cultures and people,” the footballer said in his statement. His wife then posted on Twitter, “So proud of David #remain”.
Leave.EU’s millionaire founder Arron Banks remained unimpressed on Tuesday. “Bend it like Beckham — we quoted her comments. Suck it up Vicky,” he commented.
Other Brexiters mocked high-profile Remainers, saying that, as wealthy jet-setters, they are divorced from the reality of life in the EU.
Even so, celebrity endorsements do guarantee the campaigns media coverage and provide sunny faces for leaflets. In a vote where party allegiance is little guide, their value is not insignificant.
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