Liz Lochhead fears for future after Brexit vote

Liz Lochhead. Picture: Tony Williams
Liz Lochhead. Picture: Tony Williams
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Liz Lochhead, the former Scottish Makar, says she has been left “terrified” in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the poet and playwright blamed an “unholy alliance” for the EU referendum result.

She compared a surge in popularity of right wing ­elements across Europe and the “demonisation” of immigrants and refugees to the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.

Lanarkshire-born Lochhead, who has just ended her five-year tenure as Scotland’s national poet, said: “I’m not really feeling incredibly optimistic at the moment. I’m reeling from it. It’s very stupid. I didn’t think it was going to happen, because I didn’t know anybody that wanted to leave Europe. I was in London the day the vote came through. It was a great shock.

“I’m a responder to what happens. I’ve not got a crystal ball. But I think it’s quite terrifying actually.

“The rise of the right across Europe and the demonising of refugees and immigrants is very depressing. You feel as if you’ve hit the 1930s again.

“My nature is to be optimistic, but everybody I know is thinking: ‘How did that ­happen?’ A lot of people who ­voted for it are now beginning to realise they’re not going to get what they wanted out of it. It was a complete mixture of ­people that for various different ­reasons formed an unholy alliance to make a thing that I don’t think even the Tories wanted.

“It’s a very strange time at the moment and not just about things that are happening in Britain. You can’t help but feel incredibly shocked when a priest gets his throat cut in France in a wee place like Bearsden.”

Lochhead, whose most recent play Thon Man Moliere was staged as part of the 50th anniversary ­celebrations of the Royal ­Lyceum Theatre in ­Edinburgh, revealed she is hoping to make a return there in the near future with her own version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She read an excerpt from a script she plans to pitch to new artistic director David Greig and said: “I’ve got no reason to think David wouldn’t be interested in talking to me about it. I want to make him an offer he’d be a fool to refuse. The first play I ever fell in love with at school was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ll be heading towards my 70th birthday next year and it would be nice to be working on my favourite play.”

Meanwhile Lochhead also admitted that being appointed Makar five years ago had been a “lifesaver” as it had come a few months after the death of her husband Tom.

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