Sir Michael Parkinson: Visiting Barnsley made me understand why people voted for Brexit

Sir Michael Parkinson has criticised a lack of Government investment in towns across the North of England.
Michael ParkinsonMichael Parkinson
Michael Parkinson

The chat show host is backing a £5 million fundraising campaign to renovate a theatre close to where he was born in Barnsley, and said visits to the area had made him "understand why people voted Brexit".

Sir Michael, 82, is a patron of the The Civic theatre and is calling for donations to help make it a world-class destination for the arts by 2023.

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He said: "I get cross with these bloody politicians who talk about the Northern Powerhouse. It might be true in Leeds, it might be true in Manchester, but it clearly isn't where I went to recently.

"I began to fully understand too, for the first time, why people voted for Brexit.

"Barnsley sits there and it's vulnerable, and what it deserves, and what these areas didn't get, was an adequate replacement for the pits."

Sir Michael described the area and its neighbours in the north as "dying on their feet", adding: "They need something to aspire to make it better for them to live there.

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"There's a problem, a gap - The Civic would be part of the rebuilding if we are to regenerate these societies.

"Arts, music, particularly, is very important to our lives. Without music, without entertainment, where are we?"

The Grade II-listed building has been part of the town since 1877.

A modern extension was opened in 2009, but a third of the historic building is unoccupied and its traditional front entrance and foyer is disconnected from the rest of the building.