Joanna Lumley discusses her ‘Stop Sea Blasts’ campaign
The Absolutely Fabulous actress, 74, returns to TV screens tonight with her ITV show Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home – Travels In My Own Land. The star, who is best known for her comedic roles, has also drawn a lot of attention for her campaign work. Lumley has tried to raise awareness of the perils linked to climate change, the treatment of the Gurkhas and reunite the nation after Brexit.
Lumley made a number of positive remarks about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – despite voting Remain in the referendum.
Her comments will have surprised many due to her love of travelling around the bloc, especially in her younger years as a model.
But Lumley also warned that “Europe had changed” after it joined the EU and that it could be harder for the UK to “go back to being independent and sovereign”.
She said: “The people who wanted to leave said, ‘40 years ago, this didn’t exist and so it can not exist now. What’s the problem?’
“What they had forgotten was that Europe had changed. Europe had joined the European Union.”
Joanna Lumley explained Brexiteers’ wishes and hopes for leaving the EU
Joanna Lumley is best known for her role in Absolutely Fabulous alongside Jennifer Saunders
Lumley recalled being able to travel to “every country in Europe” with just a passport when she was a model but admitted it was different now.
She said: “There wasn’t a problem, you didn’t have to get a visa.
“But Europe was different because none of Europe belonged to itself.
“Now they formed a club and we’ve decided to leave the club and say, ‘Hey, but we’re just the same.’”
Lumley argued that “the club isn’t the same” because previously “the club never existed”.
Joanna Lumley played Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous
However, she admitted that she “always understood” Brexiteers’ points in defence of wanting to leave the bloc and “make our own decisions”.
This feeling was cemented after 52 percent of the public voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.
During the vote, 46.5 million people – around 72 percent of the nation – cast their ballots.
Lumley compared being a part of the EU to sitting on a committee of 27 people – the number of EU member states.
She said: “We’ve all sat on overly-large committees and cannot get them all to agree.
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Joanna Lumley travelled throughout the EU when she was a model and felt that Europe had changed
“Look how hard it is to get a hung jury to agree, that’s only 12 people [and] look how hard that is.
“So how do you get 27 people to agree?
“So you can understand people saying, ‘Let’s get out of this! Let’s make our own decisions!’”
Lumley admitted that she “could understand a great deal of Brexiteers’ problems” with the EU despite voting in opposition to Brexit.
She also understood people questioning, “How do we get rid of them?” – the EU – or “How do you change such a huge ship?”
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Despite making positive points about Brexit, Lumley admitted that she had no idea the UK would vote Leave in 2016.
She continued: “I think we all went to bed, thinking we would be remaining and we all woke up and found we were leaving.”
Lumley’s comments were made shortly after the EU referendum, during an interview on the AOL BUILD Series.
In several other moments, she defended those who voted for Brexit.
Lumley spoke out after a spate of racist attacks followed the 2016 EU referendum, which some wrongly blamed on Brexiteers.
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She told the Radio Times: “What is highlighted are the b******s who say and do cruel and wicked things – but we must remember the majority aren’t those people.”
In 2017, she argued that the majority of people in the UK had “good hearts” and abided by a “sense of justice and generosity”.
Lumley also pointed out that our nation would still be “loved” by people on the continent regardless of Brexit.
She felt “nothing’s changed” and that people from EU member states would still visit the UK.
Lumley said: “All these rules for our country are only 40 years old.”
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She argued there was more that united than separated us.
Lumley said: “The people on the continent will miss us and we will miss them.
“They adore us going over there and they love to come here.”
She felt they “loved Savile Row, the theatre” and more.
Lumley continued: “We love the cheese, the wine, the arts [and] the music.”
She used our nations’ shared interests to reiterate that “nothing has changed”.
Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home: Travels In My Own Land airs tonight on ITV from 8pm.