What do footballers and other famous faces say about the EU referendum?


David Beckham has come out in favour of staying in the EU, saying that an international crop of players including Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and Frenchman Eric Cantona made Manchester United great. His wife, Victoria Beckham, also declared for Remain shortly after.

But other famous faces including fellow footballer Sol Campbell and Monty Python star John Cleese have thrown their support behind the Brexit campaign.

As we draw closer to polling day, which celebrities are for and against staying in the EU?

The remainers

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has come out in support of the Remain campaign and suggested that "racists and bigots" are directing parts of the Leave campaign.

She said: "For some of us, that fact alone is enough to give us pause. The picture of Nigel Farage standing in front of a poster showing a winding line of Syrian refugees captioned 'Breaking Point' is, as countless people have already pointed out, an almost exact duplicate of propaganda used by the Nazis."

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Patrick Stewart led more than 280 figures from the arts world who backed a vote to stay. An open letter pledging support for Remain was also signed by music stars Hot Chip, alt-J and Paloma Faith, authors Dame Hilary Mantel and John le Carre, and fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Idris Elba made his pro-EU views clear on Twitter. In a tweet that included a link to a video of Alex Salmond saying he was fed up with immigrants being portrayed negatively, the Luther actor wrote: "My parents immigrated to the UK, worked hard and made a contribution ...ME ... on that basis VOTE IN."

Darts legend Bobby George is better known for his love of gold jewellery than his political views, but he has declared he is backing Remain.

Helena Bonham-Carter backed Remain saying: "I feel European but I also feel we can be British and be part of Europe, without it impinging on our sense of identity."

Helena Bonham Carter at a film premier (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Helena Bonham Carter is in the Remain camp (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Physicist Sir Stephen Hawking has come out in favour of staying, saying that "progress comes from co-operation". He said: "By working together in Europe we make our economy stronger and we give ourselves more influence in the world and we provide future opportunities for young people."

Game Of Thrones actors Daniel Portman, who stars as Podrick Payne in the fantasy series, and Kate Dickie, who played Lysa Arryn, are two of more than 80 prominent members of Scotland's creative sector who argue that Europe has benefited the country artistically and culturally.

The leavers

(Andrew Matthews/PA)
John Cleese has expressed his preference to leave the EU (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Monty Python star John Cleese signalled he will vote to leave the EU when he tweeted "If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU, I'd vote to stay in. But there isn't. Sad."

Michael Caine (Ian West/PA)
Caine is a reluctant leaver (Ian West/PA)

Actor Sir Michael Caine said he is a reluctant Leaver. He said: "I don't know what to vote for. Both are scary. To me, you've now got in Europe a sort of government-by-proxy of everybody, who has now got carried away. Unless there is some extremely significant changes, we should get out."

A poster showing celebrities voting to remain in the EEC in 1975
David Bailey campaigned to stay in Europe in 1975. He is now voting to leave (PA)

David Bailey was one of a number of personalities who leant their face to a poster urging people to stay in the European Economic Community during the 1975 referendum campaign. But a spokeswoman for Britain's most famous photographer told the Press Association he is going to vote for Brexit.

Cricketer Sir Ian Botham appeared with former mayor of London Boris Johnson at a Vote Leave event in Chester-le-Street, County Durham. Sir Ian said he felt power has been "eroded by Brussels", adding: "I think, hang on, enough's enough."

Former England international football star Sol Campbell said he is backing Brexit so that young British sporting talent would be nurtured and given greater opportunities at British clubs.

He said: "I'm looking at the sporting side - how youngsters aren't getting the opportunities at some of the big clubs and some of the big clubs are bringing in youngsters from 14, 15, 16 and becoming homegrown, which is pushing some of our youngsters out."