'The Brits are a funny bunch' - Tony Hadley talks Brexit and his Spandau Ballet exit

In advance of his visit to Killarney this weekend, Tony Hadley talks Brexit and his Spandau Ballet exit with Ed Power

Tony Hadley
Tony Hadley

"I actually voted to leave,” says Tony Hadley. He refers not to his exit from Spandau Ballet in July 2017 but his vote, 12 months prior, in the Brexit referendum.

“David Cameron made a fundamental mistake,” continues the 59 year-old singer, speaking ahead of a headline performance at Forever Younger Winterfest this Saturday . “He went to Europe and was not tough enough.

"All he had to do, really, was get a few concessions. It would have satisfied people. The Brits are a funny bunch. We can be really obtuse. If he’d come back with a few bits of sugar everyone would have said, ‘fair enough’.”

Hadley swears he’ll never tell why he left the band. The news was certainly a bombshell. Hadley had co-founded Spandau in 1979 with Kemp, Steve Norman and John Keeble. Kemp’s brother Martin later joined on bass and they were quickly enjoying international success with hits such as ‘Gold’, ‘True’ and ‘Through the Barricades’.

They split in 1990 but reunited to considerable acclaim in 2009 and released a well-received comeback LP, Once More. And then,in 2017, came Hadley’s fateful tweet.

“I’ve never said why I left,” insists Hadley. “It was a very specific reason. Something that greatly affected me and the people around me. What they did wasn’t pleasant. That was why I resigned. When you think of all the stuff we’ve been through as a band — we’ve had our ups and our downs.

"To get to the point where I resigned… you can see it was quite substantial.”

As British politics plunges into the seventh circle of hysteria ahead of general election polling day, Hadley stands apart from his fellow pop stars. He’s that rare right-leaning entertainer willing to publicly own up to his views.

“My politics is a kind of one nation conservatism,” he says. “I believe everyone is equal. We have to look after people. But we have to generate money as well. That’s a fact of life .We try to live in this utopian world.

It doesn’t always work. You do have to look after people who are struggling, who have health issues.

“We have to do everything we can to make sure they are looked after. In a sense, I call myself a ‘conservative communist’. Everyone is equal. But we have to generate money.”

Hadley is as fed up of Brexit as everyone else and hopes for a swift and sensible deal to secure the UK’s departure from the EU. He is clear that this doesn’t mean Britain is decoupling from Europe or that the sky will fall in.

“It’s a tricky one isn’t it?The connections between the UK and Europe have always been there regardless of the EU. Just in terms of trade, transfer of people. It’s been said, ‘oh we’re going to need a visa to to go Europe.’ No one has ever needed a visa to go to Europe or for Europeans to go to the UK.

I’m hoping and praying we come to a sensible arrangement, including movement of people, which I don’t have a problem with. I hope we come to a good middle ground where we can all agree and put this behind us and move forward.

He’s moving forward too. In 2018 he put out a new solo album, Talking to the Moon. He’ll be playing tracks from it in Killarney, alongside Spandau Ballet favourites.

'The Brits are a funny bunch' - Tony Hadley talks Brexit and his Spandau Ballet exit

“I’ll be doing ‘Gold’, ‘Through the Barricades’ … I still sing the classic hits. It’s always good to give people what they want. People have a lot of mileage with those songs because they’ve so many memories.”

Spandau Ballet initially tried to slog on without their frontman. In June of last year, they unveiled a new singer in 30-year-old Ross William Wild, who had performed alongside Martin Kemp in West End musical Million Dollar Quartet. A flurry of showcase gigs across Europe followed.

But the new line-up never went any further. On ITV’s This Morning last May, Martin Kemp revealed that Spandau would not play again until Hadley rejoined.

A lesser individual might have allowed themselves a moment of schadenfreude. Yet Hadley insists he takes no pleasure in his former comrades’s difficulties.

“Ross William Wild, I wished him the best,” says Hadley.

“I did think, ‘Watch your back — I hope you’re okay’. By all accounts the first he knew he wasn’t in the band was on television. ‘We’re not doing any Spandau until Tony rejoins’. I thought, ‘whaaat?’”

Hadley is speaking to the Examiner en route to an appearance on ITV with television chef James Martin.

His morning was devoted to watching a catch-up of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Hadley and his family are addicted to Ant and Dec in the jungle.

As well they might be, with the singer having himself participated in 2015.

“It was really a brilliant experience, he says.

“I’d been on jungle treks before, to Costa Rica. I know the jungle. It’s stunning. Having no phones no email, no communication… it was pretty cool. One thing that gets to you is that there’s no beer, no sugar, nothing like that. But after a while you feel fine. It’s a beautiful place to be.”

Hopefully he’ll have the same thoughts about his visit to Killarney this weekend.

- Forever Young Winterfest takes place at INEC Killarney, Friday and Saturday. Tony Hadley headlines Saturday; other acts include Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, The Christians, and Altered Images

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