David Attenborough felt EU ‘didn’t pay enough attention’ to Britain before Brexit
David Attenborough warns world leaders about climate change
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The nature documentarian is a well-respected voice within the UK and to many is a national treasure. Sir David was among the first to warn about climate change on TV and has campaigned for decades, urging Governments and the public to act. He has occasionally strayed into politics – and in one impassioned speech, the 94-year-old gave insight into some of the issues that led to Brexit.
Sir David, whose new BBC show Attenborough’s Life In Colour airs tonight, has never revealed which way he voted in the EU referendum.
The naturalist has often justified some of the points made by Brexiteers but also expressed concern over some EU wildlife protections potentially being lost.
He seemed to be on the fence about the bloc until the TV star was asked outright if he was “more of a Brexiteer than a Remainer?”
While Sir David did not give a straight answer, he hinted that the EU needed reform.
He said: “There had to be a change, one way or another.”
Sir David believed there were “faults of both sides” on the Brexit argument and much of the British public was “irritated” with the EU.
He felt that “irritation” stemmed from “the ways in which the European community” had “interfered with people’s lives”.
The documentarian claimed much of that interference was on “silly levels” and “silly issues”, in a 2019 La Repubblica article.
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Despite branding the problems “silly”, he felt they were “important” to Britons and led some to no longer “understand the “advantages and disadvantages” of the EU.
Sir David believed the UK had been “feeling fed up” for quite a while before the EU referendum.
He claimed “silly things” like the amount “they’ve got to charge for tomatoes” pushed the public over the edge.
While Sir David acknowledged some Brexiteers may not have understood the benefits of being in the EU, he pointed out flaws in the bloc too.
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He stated: “Now, maybe the European Union didn’t pay enough attention to what sort of things the members care about.”
Sir David believed the bloc had “allowed themselves to do all sorts of things” that had been “irritating for members”.
He pointed out the UK wasn’t alone in their frustrations and told the Italian newspaper: “You Italians are not all that pleased!”
When pushed again on whether Sir David cast his ballot for Leave or Remain, he said: “I don’t reveal what I voted for.”
The day after Brexit was announced, the documentarian admitted he was “sad” about the potential threat to the environment.
In 2016, Sir David told the Guardian: “Swallows are not members of the [European] Union and migrant birds and so on.”
His “one hope” was “collaboration” over conservation issues would “transcend political divisions”.
During Sir David’s 2019 interview with La Repubblica, he expressed concern over environmental problems worsening.
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He noted “hideous problems” in South America and Africa were being ignored because of “Brexit”.
Sir David pointed out “poor people in huge numbers” were “devastating the environment”.
One of the regularly cited examples of this is the claim farmers torched sections of the Amazon rainforest to make way for fertile farmlands.
Sir David believed through “no fault of their own” those people were damaging the environment and they “didn’t ask to be in existence there”.
He felt the UK and the rest of Europe should have sought to dissuade and incentivise them away from those types of environment-destroying practices.
He believed the international community had not responded because they were embroiled in Brexit negotiations.
Sir David said: “[They] are faced with hideous problems, meanwhile, we are occupied with these silly squabbles about Brexit.
“The world is going to hell, you know, while we are arguing about this ridiculous… ”
Attenborough’s Life In Colour airs at 7pm Sunday on BBC One.
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