Politics

Benedict Cumberbatch: 'We created the migrant crisis'

Benedict Cumberbatch frequently enters into political discussions and is often willing to explore the opposing viewpoint. With the migrant crisis, however, he refuses to get behind people with little humanity and sympathy for those fleeing to the UK.

Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t tend to shy away from entering into political debates. In 2019, he portrayed Dominic Cummings in Brexit: The Uncivil War, where, despite supporting the remain campaign in real life, he used the role to explore the opposing viewpoint and understand the other side of the debate. 

In an upcoming interview with The Big Issue, however, Cumberbatch made clear that there are certain political debates which he is not willing to compromise on, and the migrant crisis was top of the list. 

“It frightens me how blind people are to the fact that we went to war in countries that destabilised an entire area of our world and that’s where these people are coming from,” he said. 

“People say it’s not our problem, but it really is. We created it. And also, part of being a global citizen means it should be our humanitarian problem anyway. It’s not good enough to think, ‘let’s hope they die on the way’. And that’s really the logic of what people are saying.”

The debate around the migrant crisis is growing in the UK media as hundreds of migrants are reported to be crossing the English channel each day, a dangerous activity when boats are overloaded and attempting to navigate around the paths of freight ships and ferries.  

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Last month, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution came under criticism for helping migrants reach the shore safely. A social media furore followed a tweet from Nigel Farage in which he accused the lifeboat service of being “a taxi service for illegal immigration”.

Cumberbatch told The Big Issue: “It’s their job. They’re volunteer seamen. They would do that for anybody […] They are being attacked for helping drowning people? I find it abhorrent.

“God forbid that the people calling them out should ever end up in a situation where they need to be rescued at sea or have a child swimming that they can’t save. I mean, that is unthinkable, please put yourself in the position of these people.”

Back in 2015 Cumberbatch famously told the audience of his Hamlet performance to “fuck the politicians,” with regards to their handling of the migrant crisis, and used the stage to ask for donations for Syrian refugees. 

This week he explained to The Big Issue’s Adrian Lobb: “It’s the reason why people are mass migrating – whether it’s the environmental or societal collapse – that we need to deal with.”

Read more from the interview in the The Big Issue from Monday, available from your local vendor or via digital subscription.

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