Sir Beefy backs a Brexit from the EU and calls for closer trade with the Commonwealth

Billy Bambrough
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'Beefy Walking the Rainbow Nation' - Sir Ian Botham Charity Walk In South Africa
Botham scored 14 centuries and 383 wickets in Test cricket for England, also grabbing 120 catches (Source: Getty)

The campagin for a British exit from the European Union has received the backing of legendary cricketer Sir Ian Botham.

The former England all-rounder, known as Beefy, branded the EU “a racket” that the UK funds with £50m a day. In a scathing attack on Brussels he said money sent to the EU “gets swallowed up by greed and corruption”.

He urged the UK to strike trade deals with the Commonwealth, calling members of the 53 country-strong association Britain’s “natural friends”.

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“In my cricketing career I played alongside teammates and against opposition from all over the world – from India, Australia, the Caribbean.

“It is time to reclaim our basic sovereignty, the power to decide for ourselves. That is why I am going to vote ‘leave’,” he wrote in the Sunday Times.

This week President Barack Obama will fly to the UK and call for the country to vote to stay in the EU on 23 June.

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The outgoing US president is expected to argue that Britain benefits economically from membership of the trading bloc.

Botham’s comments come after London mayor and pro-Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson launched an attack on the government’s pro-EU campaign, calling it “shameful”.