London Mayor Sadiq Khan has criticised John Cleese after the Fawlty Towers legend said the capital was “not really an English city any more”.
The former Monty Python star tweeted: “Virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it…”
Mr Khan responded: “These comments make John Cleese sound like he’s in character as Basil Fawlty.
“Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength.”
He added: “We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub.”
Cleese’s comments come eight years after the comedian made headlines for similar remarks, saying London felt like a foreign city and that English culture was disappearing.
In his new message on Wednesday, the 79-year-old added: “I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the EU.”
‘The Englishness of my upbringing’
He used a series of further tweets to deny that his comments were about race, saying the character of the capital had changed since he was young.
“I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing, but in some ways I found it calmer, more polite, more humorous, less tabloid, and less money-oriented than the one that is replacing it,” he wrote.
Cleese moved to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean last November. In July, he told BBC Newsnight he was “so disappointed with so much about this country” – particularly the press and the level of debate in the 2016 EU referendum.
There had been “dreadful lies on the right” and “scare tactics” from then-Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne, he said.
His comments sparked a backlash on Twitter.
But he also got support. The official Leave.EU account wrote: “Bravo to British comedy legend and Brexiteer @JohnCleese for speaking up about the state of London.
“The liberal luvvies on Twitter are in meltdown over his refusal to apologise for telling the truth!”
Cleese’s spokesman said there was no further comment.