Eddie Izzard makes passionate defence of EU with 'positive campaign'


Eddie Izzard urged people to "head forwards and upwards, not backwards and out" as he delivered a speech about remaining in the EU at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.

The comedian was presented with the outstanding achievement award for his award-winning career but chose to focus his speech on the Remain campaign, of which he is a vocal supporter.

He said: "Some people say, 'You love Europe, you're in love with Europe'. If anything, I love humanity, I love people...so I'm trying to do things, they talk about negative campaigning in the European Union, I'm trying to live and breathe a positive campaign.

"Being a transgender guy, doing gigs in German, running marathons, I'm just trying to head forward, surely so human beings, all seven billion of us, have a fair life. That's all I'm asking."

Eddie Izzard speaking at an event
Eddie Izzard (Ben Birchall/PA)

He said that starts with keeping Europe together as a continent.

"Europe is the first ever continent to try and do this. (People say) 'It's very difficult, too bureaucratic, difficult'. Yeah, but that's the direction you've got to head to move forwards as humanity, by heading forward not backwards.

"That's why I'm positive about staying in."

Eddie said the reason he believed he won the award was the "insane move" to perform his Force Majeure gig in French and in German.

Eddie Izzard poses at the Olivier Awards
Eddie Izzard (Joel Ryan/AP/PA)

He revealed he was performing on Monday in Normandy in German, French and English - "the three languages we fought in" - to commemorate D-Day.

He said: "To commemorate what we've done since then: moving forward, trying to live together, trying to reach out our hands and saying, 'Can we learn from each other?' That's what we do in the creative arts. Surely we have to take the risk, we have to go out there and do things like this. It's up to us to go out and march ahead.

"So I'm going to fight for every day of my life for all of us to have a fair chance and I know people in this country are having a tough time but surely we head forwards.

"Despair is the fuel of terrorism, hope is the fuel of civilisation. We have to be putting hope into the world, that's what I'm trying to do, that's what I hope all of you are trying to do.

"We've got to head forwards and upwards, not backwards and out."

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards air on Sky Arts on June 8 at 8pm.