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The Brexit festival: Billy No-Mates plans a party

September 13, 2020

You can call me a killjoy, but in my humble opinion, whoever came up with the idea of a “Brexit festival” is terminally misguided. Whatever is said by supporters and would-be participants who claim that such an event would be non-political, this will plainly not be the case in the perception of the target audience.

What’s more, only the deluded can possibly believe that by 2022, when the festival is scheduled to take place, Britain will have recovered from the double whammy of COVID-19 and the adverse effects of Brexit.

Whatever Boris Johnson and his minions would like to think, the country is still hopelessly divided over Brexit. Some people are quietly mourning the end of our membership of the European Union. Others are stoically resigned to its inevitability. Either way, if the government, which is hardly noted for its competence, screws up on Brexit, latent anger will quickly resurface.

Hardly an auspicious setting for a festival to celebrate all things British. The last time we had such a festival, in 1951, it was notionally to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great Exhibition. It also served as a relief from the grim years of post-war rationing and economic hardship. The Festival of Britain was widely enjoyed and largely free of political controversy.

The Brexit festival will be far from that. Aside from opponents of Brexit, I imagine that there will be plenty of people, burdened by financial measures the government will need to take in order to claw back the billions spent during the pandemic, who will begrudge every penny spent on what they might see as a frivolous Johnsonian brag-fest (even if Boris’s benighted predecessor gave it the go-ahead).

Whether it’s by accident or design, the irony of this “festival” is that it’s due to take place ten years after the 2012 Olympics, when big-wigs, spectators and athletes from around the world were welcomed with a spectacular opening ceremony that portrayed British history and culture without a hint of arrogance.

Yet if things continue on their current path, we shall be treated to a short-term hit of cultural adrenaline in a country with few friends, and a society whose spreading strains of racism and xenophobia are light years from the Olympic ideal.

Assuming COVID doesn’t carry me off first, I have no intention of participating any event that is associated with the spurious independence of my country, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one.

In fact, assuming the plague has abated, I shall probably make sure that I’m in the same place as I was on July 23 2016, when the whole Brexit comedy started to unfold: France. I commemorated the day with a post to this blog called a bore with a sore head. I’m afraid I’m no less of a bore today.

If, however, the £120 million budgeted for this manipulative contrivance were to be donated by way of an apology by hedge fund owners and other shysters who have benefited financially from tearing the country apart, that might be another matter.

But somehow I can’t see that happening.

From → Politics, Social, UK

  1. As an outsider, perhaps I shouldn’t comment, but…
    I was in London during the grand millennial celebration (or the celebration that largely wasn’t?), and given that as prologue, the odds would seem against the greater success of a celebration erected on even shakier ground.

    • Yes, that was a bit of a shaky one, wasn’t it! I agree with you. The chances of any event bringing the country together in the foreseeable seem very low.

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