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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Rubbing our noses in it

There is such a thing as a gracious loser, so Michael Heseltine is absolutely right when he accuses the UK Government of seeking to “rub the noses of Remainers in their defeat”, after the prime minister announced events to commemorate the UK’s departure from the EU this coming Friday at 11pm.

Downing Street have commissioned three million special 50p coins bearing the words “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”. These will enter shops, banks and restaurants from Friday with a further seven million coming into circulation by the end of the year. Union Jack flags will also line Parliament Square and the Mall on Friday and the public will see government buildings in Whitehall lit up in red, white and blue.

The government also wants to encourage, “a commemorative light display” in Downing Street in the run-up to 11pm, the hour that the UK will officially end its 47 year membership of Europe’s club of nations. While a countdown clock will be projected on to it from 10pm. Officials claim that the light display will “symbolise the strength and unity” of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom.

Michael Heseltine however, takes a different view. He told the Observer: “Brexit is the most divisive issue of modern times. Those of us who fought to remain did so sincerely in the interests of our country and subsequent generations who we believe should be influential at the heart of Europe.

“I think it is unwise of the government to rub our noses in it by celebrating our defeat at this hour, whilst talking about unifying the country.”

He said the only comfort was that plans to chime Big Ben to mark the moment the UK leaves had been dropped. “At least we are spared the sound of Big Ben being chimed at our discomfort.” Adapting the quote from John Donne the Tory peer added: “Send not to inquire for whom the bells tolls. It tolls for thee.”

Ed Davey is also right to call out these events as using public money for an inappropriate, divisive event. “The prime minister should be seeking to pull the country together, not gloat with an expensive party on the public purse,” he said.

This triumphalism is no way to pull a country together, instead it will serve to further alienate people. If Boris Johnson were seeking to be the most divisive Prime Minister since Thatcher, he could not have found a better way.
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