Celebrated novelist Ian McEwan has never minced his words when it comes to Brexit.
He has described the EU vote as “plebiscite of dubious purpose and unacknowledged status,” and the result a “real disaster” and a “huge mistake”.
And now he has provoked the ire of fervent Leavers by likening the EU referendum to the politics of Nazi Germany.
Speaking at a press conference in Barcelona, where he is promoting his latest novel Nutshell, the author said:
Great Britain works on the basis of a parliamentary democracy and not through plebiscites, which remind me of the Third Reich.
McEwan, also discussed the bullying aspect of the Brexit debate, complaining that leading Brexiters have become “intolerant of dissent” cowing their opponents into silence.
He even compared the hounding of the supreme court judges scrutinising the Brexit process to Robespierre’s terror during the French Revolution.
“Their militant wing, the tabloid press, has started to look into the lives of the judges who rule that Brexit could result in the loss of human rights to see whether they’re homosexual or something,” he said. “It’s reminiscent of Robespierre and the terror of the French revolution. The air in my country is very foul.”
The 68-year-old later clarified his remarks to the Guardian, saying his words had been “somewhat garbled” when translated into Catalan and Spanish.
He said in a statement:
I do not think for a moment that those who voted to leave the EU, or their representatives, resemble Nazis. Nor does our government even faintly resemble the Third Reich.
However, I did say to the assembled journalists that the phrase ‘enemies of the people’ was one associated with Robespierre and therefore carried an unpleasant association; I did say that the press harrying of some judges of the supreme court was nasty (not Nazi).
McEwan also reasserted the rights of those who had wanted to stay in the EU, and those who had not voted at all.
It is the right of those of us who voted to remain to continue to speak for what we believe is in our country’s best interest and not allow ourselves to be cowed into silence.