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7 April 2016

Would the Doctor vote for Britain to leave the EU?

He’s a maverick who knows how to handle an over-mighty federation of monsters.

By Pete May

Most questions in life can be answered by Doctor Who and perhaps wavering EU referendum voters should place their faith in the Time Lord. Where would the Doctor stand on Brexit? Whovians will not be short of guidance.

Those who argue that the Doctor would support Brexit might point out that the Doctor has always had a problem with authority imposed by distant institutions. At the end of the last series Peter Capaldi’s Doctor banished Rassilon, the Lord President of the High Council of Time Lords, from Gallifrey with a cry of “get off my planet!” (though Rassilon had kept him trapped in a confession dial for several billion years, as you do).

The Doctor is a maverick character who originally left Gallifrey in a stolen Tardis, ignoring Time Lord directives not to interfere with alien worlds. Jon Pertwee’s earthbound Doctor was hugely irritated by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart always having to phone Geneva to get permission for UNIT (the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) to act against alien invasions of home counties’ quarries.

He would presumably like euro contributions to be fairer. Tom Baker’s Doctor led a rebellion against tax collectors on Pluto in the The Sun Makers, resulting in the Gatherer being hurled from a roof by a rampaging mob of over-taxed workers.

Matt Smith’s Doctor certainly has experience of an over-mighty federation of monsters. In The Pandorica Opens an alliance of Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians and Judoon imprisoned the Doctor for all time in the inescapable Pandorica. Which makes the EU’s treatment of Greece seem almost fair.

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The Doctor has consistently opposed expanding empires and has strong views on sovereignty; when Davros moved the Earth along with 26 other planets to the Medusa Cascade in The Stolen Earth, David Tennant’s Doctor got pretty damn cross. And having once been married to Elizabeth I in The Day of The Doctor, he might have fairly conservative views about integration with Spain.

But on the “Stronger In” side, Jon Pertwee’s Doctor played a major role in helping Peladon join the Galactic Federation in the 1972 story The Curse of Peladon, made when Britain was debating whether to join the European Economic Community. The Doctor is mistaken for the chairman of a committee (including now peaceful Ice Warriors) assessing Peladon’s application to join the Federation. In this role he thwarts a murderous plot by High Priest Hepesh and Arcturus to keep Peladon out of the Federation and exploit its mineral riches.

The Doctor’s longstanding relationship with UNIT, where he was at one time employed as their chief scientific adviser, suggests he is prepared to cooperate with multinational forces where necessary and favours the imposition of some form of galactic order when faced with weekly invasions of Earth.

One of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor’s lasting concerns was pollution, and having fought off giant maggots created by pollution from Global Chemicals in The Green Death, you feel he would appreciate the need for European-wide regulation of companies run by crazed computers dumping green slime down Welsh mines.

The European Court of Human (and inhuman) Rights would surely get the Doctor’s approval. He is against arbitrary executions and when offered the chance to destroy the Daleks at birth in Genesis of the Daleks, Tom Baker’s Doctor agonised like a Guardian reader, asking “Have I the right?”

The Doctor has also been pretty soft on asylum seekers. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor masterminds the integration of 20 million Zygon refugees into Earth society in The Zygon Invasion. He even manages to halt an Isis-style anti-integration movement with a tremendous speech: “When you’ve killed all the bad guys what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers.” The Doctor has offered Tardis asylum to companions from many different countries and planets simply on the basis of compassion and always without any appropriate paperwork or visas being completed.

Intergalactic regulations and directives also figure strongly in the Doctor’s life. After returning to British TV after an absence of 16 years, Russell T Davies’ first script had Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, “seek audience with the Nestene Consciousness under peaceful contract according to Convention 15 of the Shadow Proclamation”. The Shadow Proclamation was later revealed to be a kind of “outer space police”.

So on balance, given his liberal tendencies, the Doctor would probably favour remaining in a union that had kept the peace in Europe since 1945 – though he would certainly want reforms and less bureaucracy stopping Time Lords meeting their duty of care to humans.

The Doctor is aware of the dangers of naked populism, having seen the Master, posing as Harold Saxon, become UK prime minister on a “master the future” ticket. And perhaps the clinching piece of evidence for the Doctor would be that in Aliens of London a family of Slitheen posed as corpulent politicians by compressing themselves into large human body suits – looking not too dissimilar to chief Outer Boris Johnson.

Pete May’s book Whovian Dad: A Doctor Who Fan’s Travels Through Time and Space is available now as a Kindle Single.

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