Dawn Butler to John Cleese: 'How does it feel to be an immigrant?'

John Cleese has sparked a debate after claiming London is no longer "English"

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Labour MP Dawn Butler has hit out at comedian John Cleese, after he tweeted that London was no longer an "English city".

Speaking to talkRADIO's Matthew Wright, Ms Butler drew attention to Mr Cleese living in the Caribbean island of Nevis, calling him an "immigrant".

"How does it feel being an immigrant John?” she said.

“You’re an immigrant, and I’m sure you’ve not even gone there to work you’ve gone there to retire.”

Ms Butler added that the 79-year-old was "trying to defend the indefensible" when retaliating to his critics on social media.

“What is he saying? What does an English city mean? You’ve just listed how England came into being, what does it actually mean?" she said.

“He said 'This is my point of view, and I’ve got this echo chamber of people who all think the same as me' so it’s like a confirmatory bias.”

However, Cleese has stood by his comments, engaging with supporters and critics on Twitter.

“I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing," he wrote.

“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.”

Mr Cleese responded to accusations of racism by calling himself a “culturalist”.

“I think it's legitimate to prefer one culture to another. For example, I prefer cultures that do not tolerate female genital mutilation.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan also weighed in on Mr Cleese's tweet, writing that the capital's diversity was its "greatest strength".

"These comments make John Cleese sound like he's in character as Basil Fawlty," he said.

"Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength. We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub."

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John Cleese says comments on London ‘culturalist’ not racist

John Cleese sparks debate after claim London not an ‘English city’