Speaking to the Observer New Review this weekend, the veteran star has attacked Boris Johnson’s administration for having no grasp of the huge income normally generated by British artists working abroad.
“I’m livid about what the government did when Brexit happened. They made no provision for the entertainment business, and not just for musicians, actors and film directors, but for the crews, the dancers, the people who earn a living by going to Europe,” said John, who said his anger is the result of unsuccessful attempts to lobby politicians.
“We’ve been talking to Lord Strasburger about it, and we’ve been talking to Lord Frost, but we didn’t really get anywhere with him,” John said. “It’s a nightmare. To young people just starting a career, it’s crucifying.”
Asked why he thinks he has met such resistance, John said: “The government are philistines. We’ve got used to governments – especially the British government – just telling us lies every day, and I don’t feel OK with that.
“Look what they did with the NHS. After all that those people did during Covid, they give them a 1% increase. I find that extraordinary. It makes me so angry. I’m 74 years of age and I just don’t get this unfairness and this ridiculous ability to lie through your teeth every fucking minute of the day.”
John has spent much of the pandemic at home in Berkshire with his two children and his husband, David Furnish.
“I treasured the time we spent together. I’ve owned this house since 1975, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve seen spring, summer, autumn and winter here.”
But he has become infuriated, he said, by the government’s disregard for the entertainment industry.
“People like me can afford to go to Europe because we can get people to fill in the forms and get visas done, but what makes me crazy is that the entertainment business brings in £111bn a year to this country and we were just tossed away. The fishing industry – which they still fucked up – brings in £1.4bn. And I’m all for the fishermen, but we’re talking about more than a hundred billion pounds of difference here, and we weren’t even thought about! ‘Oh well, the arts: they don’t matter.’”