The reaction of some Remainers to the release of the new 50p piece echoes the fixation of Brexiteers with Big Ben’s bongs, says Brexit Party official GAWAIN TOWLER.
In case you hadn’t noticed, panto season isn’t quite over. Widow Twankey may have departed the Hackney Empire and Christopher Biggins is under wraps for another 12 months, but absurdity remains centre stage across the land, in the shape of the recent antics of partisans of both the Remain and Leave tribes.
Around the world, sage men and women of discernment and learning must have been looking at their morning journals in recent days only to see before them what they must have assumed was the UK’s final descent into Brexit lunacy.
First we had the saga of Big Ben’s bongs, and whether we would hear them at 11pm on Friday. It was embarrassing. Yes, I will celebrate our departure from the EU this week, while acknowledging others do not want to. Yes, I would encourage others to celebrate it in whatever manner they see fit, while also acknowledging others may not want to. And, OK, yes, I did bung £10 into the fund myself to hear the bell chime…
But the ensuing row, and the energy and excitement it generated among many on my side of the Brexit battlelines, was overblown and overheated. No one came out of it well – and some of us came out of it poorer.
Now, however, that particular strain of Brexit Derangement Syndrome has been topped, I think, by the extraordinary response to this week’s introduction of the Brexit 50 pence piece by those in the Remain trenches. Seriously chaps, what on earth are you going on about?
Do you not see what the ordinary inhabitants of these and other lands think of you? Serious people, grown-up people – some of whom have even graced the pages of this newspaper – have lost any sense of perspective over this item.
Out in the Twitterverse the pull of a full moon is strongest (note to self… Twitter is not real life – repeat 50 times on waking and before bed). There you will find people saying they will slap shop assistants who have the temerity to hand over such coins in their change, others that they will decline or deface the currency, others that they will throw them away, or bury them, to keep them out of circulation. Philip Pullman, showed his oh so clever grasp of the language by suggesting that the wording (a frankly sub-standard kiddie-read version of Ben Franklin) should be “boycotted by all literate people” because of the lack of an Oxford comma… You see, us Brexiteers are poor, old and stupid.
Seriously chaps, stop. Your outrage – just like that of the bong obsessives – does not look good. It looks daft. I went to my local this evening, a pub on the Old Kent Road, and the customers were laughing at the reactions. Is that really the impact you are after?
It’s only a coin, just like it’s only a bell. I understand that it is only those on the fringes that get really exercised about these issues, but I know from experience that these sorts of reactions don’t help you to get taken seriously.
I know what it is like to be campaigning against the status quo and the prevailing political weather. (When I first became involved in the campaign to get the UK out of the EU, it was polling at 2%). I respect your position. I respect the conviction it takes to stick at it. And I wish you well, if not success. My advice is not to let the other side define you as daft. It hurts your cause.
Often, we Eurosceptics were belittled, undermined, ridiculed. Sometimes, we made mistakes to allow this to happen. But I honestly can’t remember us falling into such a vast elephant trap as some Remainers have over the 50p piece this week.
Incidentally, that £270,000 raised by those who wanted to hear the Big Ben bongs is to be offered to Help for Heroes instead. If you really don’t want those 50p pieces, I am sure the charity would be happy to accept them.
– Gawain Towler has worked as the Brexit Party’s head of media