Face it, Rufus Wainwright – Brexit isn’t why your musical flopped

Remoaners are still blaming Brexit for literally everything.

Thomas Osborne

Topics Brexit Politics UK

Want to read spiked ad-free? Become a spiked supporter.

The Remoaners, the Rejoiners or whatever we’re meant to call them now are still trying to blame Brexit for literally anything bad that happens in Britain.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, then consider this recent complaint by American-Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Sounding off in the Guardian this week, he has tried to blame the critical and commercial failure of his first West End musical on the UK’s decision to leave the EU back in 2016.

Opening Night, a stage adaptation of John Cassavetes’s classic 1977 film, opened at the Gielgud Theatre in London last month. But after a frosty reception from critics and audiences alike, it is set to close two months early.

Instead of graciously accepting the musical’s failure, Wainwright has hit out at the Brexit-voting masses. Apparently, leaving the European Union has dulled West End audiences’ sense of ‘curiosity’ and ‘imagination about change’. He also insists that the UK press disliked the musical not because it was bad, but because it was ‘too European’.

‘I do feel that since Brexit, England has entered into a darker corridor where it is a little more narrow in its outlook’, Wainwright complained. ‘The staging and the rhythm [of the musical] was more European and there was a vitriolic reaction against that.’

Who does Rufus Wainwright think he’s kidding? While there is no truth in his snobbish assertion that Leave voters are somehow more uncultured or less ‘curious’ than their Remainer counterparts, this claim makes little sense on its own terms: West End audiences are perhaps some of the most EU-friendly Brits you could find.

What’s more, some of the harshest reviews of Opening Night came not from the Eurosceptic Daily Mail or the pro-Tory Telegraph, but from largely Europhile publications. New York Times critic Houman Barekat said that Opening Nightdesecrated’ Cassavetes’s original film. Kate Mossman in the New Statesman called it a ‘chaotic and masochistic project’. Face it, Rufus, these Remainstream outlets and critics are very much part of your tribe – and they still didn’t like your musical.

Wainwright isn’t the only celeb who is still trying to blame anything and everything on Brexit. Comedian David Baddiel argued last week that lorries are crashing into bridges because we are no longer in the EU. Although he provided no evidence of an increase in lorry crashes since either the Leave vote or since we left the Single Market, he nonetheless cited overturned lorries as concrete proof that ‘Brexit has fucked everything up’ on a ‘microscopic’ level. Really?

Also last week, physicist Brian Cox insisted that the prospect of a second Donald Trump presidency means that Brexit must be reversed. Supposedly, with the US becoming increasingly isolationist, British democratic life faces an existential threat, unless we submit ourselves to the rule of Brussels. We need a pro-EU leader, he said, to rescue us from the ‘shellshock’ of 2016. Has it not occurred to Cox that overturning the Brexit referendum, and the votes of 17.4million Brits, would also pose a serious threat to the UK’s democratic life?

Wainwright, Baddiel and Cox all share the same obsessive assumption that, whatever the problem, the Leave-voting plebs are to blame. Brexit Derangement Syndrome is sadly alive and well.

Thomas Osborne is an editorial assistant at spiked.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Brexit Politics UK


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today