John Cleese defends London comments as ‘culturalist’ not ‘racist’

Amy West
Contributor
John Cleese has defended his criticism of London as "culturalist not racist" (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

John Cleese has defended his recent comments about London, claiming they were “culturalist” rather than “racist.”

The Monty Python actor took to Twitter yesterday to claim that the capital is “not really an English city anymore” as he discussed Brexit and how London “voted most strongly to remain in the EU”.

His description was met with backlash, as online critics labelled him a “bigot” and Mayor Sadiq Khan accused the 79-year-old of sounding like his Fawlty Towers character, bumbling hotelier Basil.

Read more: John Cleese accuses London of not being 'an English city any more'

Clapping back at the negative reaction, Cleese – who is currently in the process of moving to the Caribbean - took to social media once again to say: “It might interest those people who seem to think my remarks about London are racist as opposed to culturalist, to consider that what I like about spending time in Nevis [sic].

“Nevis has excellent race relations, a very well-educated population, no sign of political correctness,” he continued. “No sign of Rupert Murdoch, conscientious lawyers, a relaxed and humorous lifestyle, a deep love of cricket, and a complete lack of knife crime. Of course, wonderful weather.

“And the icing on the cake is that Nevis is not the world centre for Russian dirty money laundering.”

When quizzed by one of his followers about whether his move was motivated by Nevis having a no income tax policy, Cleese candidly replied: “After 53 years of paying tax at the top rate, whether in the UK or the US, I feel that as I turn 80, I'm allowed to take a couple of years off.”

Read more: John Cleese embroiled in row over female comedians talking about their vaginas

He concluded his latest thread by arguing that “it's legitimate to prefer one culture to another.”

He said: “For example, I prefer cultures that do not tolerate female genital mutilation. Will this be considered racist by all those who hover, eagerly hoping that someone will offend them? Naturally.”

Talking about his initial declaration, as well as his ‘clarification’ on Good Morning Britain today (30 May), Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu joked “that with age, comes wisdom but clearly with John Cleese, it passed him by.

“Britishness is not determined by the colour of our skin,” the political and women’s rights activist continued. “I am British; I’m not less British than John Cleese because I’m black. The Britishness that we experience is not segregation, it’s all about integration.

“What is it about Britishness that’s not represented in any of our UK cities? Is it our governmental institutions? Is it our values? Is it our football, or the Royal family? All of that is celebrated so how are we not ‘English’?