European Elections: Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman among authors urging voters to support the EU

Roisin O'Connor

Some of the UK’s most respected writers have signed a letter in The Guardian urging voters taking part in the European elections to support the EU.

Neil Gaiman, Kate Williams, Nikesh Shukla, John Le Carre and Philip Pullman are among the authors who warn of the impact Brexit will have on our daily lives, from the NHS to the British car industry, along with their own creative output.

Book exports account for 60 per cent of UK publishing revenues, the letter states, with 36 per cent of physical book exports going to Europe.

“It’s fashionable among politicians to sneer at the creative industries, but our work is work just like anyone else’s, and like anyone else’s it can only happen if we get paid,” the group says. “Without any idea of what Brexit might look like, it’s impossible to know exactly what we might lose. A tenth? A fifth? A third of what we live on?”

“It seems to us that the same question is facing every industry and every person in the UK: what will you choose to lose? Because we used to hear about advantages in Brexit. We used to hear about the bright future, the extra money, the opportunities. Now the advocates of Brexit just assure us that it won’t be as bad as the last world war.”

Novelist Nick Harkaway said the letter had happened almost by accident and that “almost all the writers and creative industries people I know are desperate over Brexit. It’s such a waste and such a mess”.

The comments from some of the giants of the literary world mirror those made by leading figures in the music industry, who have warned that a lack of planning put in place could “undo” the achievements of the UK over the past few years.

Chris Scott, general manager of Communion Music – an independent music company including a label that houses artists such as Catfish and the Bottlemen, Lucy Rose and Tamino – told The Independent that it is “very hard to know exactly what Brexit is actually going to look like for us”.

“But our artists have international audiences and are based all over the world,” he pointed out, “and it’s difficult to imagine Brexit doing anything other than making commerce, communication and travel between borders much more difficult.”

Last year, a number of famous composers, singers and producers also signed a letter by Bob Geldof that spoke of how the UK could become a “cultural jail” if faced with the prospect of reduced royalties and artists who are not able to cross borders with the ease they do now.

“We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island,” the letter reads.

“It is the much-mocked freedom of movement that so effortlessly allows our troubadours, our cultural warriors, to wander Europe and speak of us to a world that cannot get enough of them and which generates countless billions for our threatened institutions.”