in News | 01 OCT 18

Theresa May’s Plan for GBP£120M ‘Festival of Brexit Britain’ Mocked on Social Media

The UK prime minister has revealed plans for celebrations in 2022 ‘to showcase what makes our country great today’

in News | 01 OCT 18

Theresa May, UK prime minister, at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, 2018. Courtesy: Getty Images, Bloomberg; photograph: Chris Ratcliffe

UK prime minister Theresa May has unveiled plans to hold a Festival of Brexit Britain in 2022, in celebration of her country’s departure from the European Union. But the prime minister’s plans, revealed ahead of her Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, has received widespread mockery.

The event, dubbed ‘The Festival’, is reportedly inspired by the 1851 Great Exhibition and 1951’s Festival of Britain; the latter was designed to promote a mood of national reassurance after the devastation of the Second World War and regain support for the ruling Labour party. ‘Almost 70 years ago the Festival of Britain stood as a symbol of change. Britain once again stands on the cusp of a new future as an outward facing trading nation,’ May commented. ‘We want to showcase what makes our country great today.’

May said that the festival would celebrate the country’s talents in business, technology, culture and sport, with events taking place across the UK, in a bid to replicate the investment boost effect of the London Olympics in 2012. The UK government will set aside GBP£120 million to ‘plan the event which is expected to generate billions of pounds for the UK economy.’

The plans for the festival received significant criticism and mockery from social media users, with #FestivalOfBrexitBritain soon trending on Twitter. Labour MP David Lammy called the proposed festival ‘historically illiterate’, tweeting: ‘The Labour government’s 1951 Festival of Britain marked a new era of growth and international cooperation. The opposite of where this Tory government is taking us.’

On Twitter, graphic artist Richard Littler went viral after he posted an updated version of an original 1951 Festival of Britain poster, with Britannia now seen shooting herself in the head. Writer and broadcaster Marcus Chown tweeted: ‘Apparently, when you go to the Festival of Brexit Britain, you’ll be able to refuse to pay the entrance fee and demand unlimited access to all the attractions.’ Other users posted stills from The Wicker Man (1973) and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) to protest the festival.

The Festival of Brexit Britain.
My poster based on the 1951 original.

— Richard Littler (@richard_littler) September 30, 2018

The idea of a Brexit festival was first proposed by Conservative MP and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who called for a ‘huge celebration’ earlier this year. Rees-Mogg said: ‘In the spirit of friendship of our European neighbours, upon leaving we should drink lots of champagne to say that though we may be leaving the European Union, we don’t dislike Europe.’