Festival of Brexit Britain organiser says event will bring ‘joy, hope and happiness’

Pro-Brexit protesters in Westminster. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Pro-Brexit protesters in Westminster. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The director of the event dubbed the 'festival of Brexit Britain' has claimed he will prove cynics wrong about the celebrations.

The nationwide event - expected to cost taxpayers £120 million - intends to bring the nation together by showcasing British creativity and bring "joy, hope and happiness".

First announced by Theresa May, Boris Johnson's government has confirmed it is preparing to go ahead with the plans for 2022.

Now in his first interview, the director of Festival 2022, Martin Green has said he is preparing to prove the cynics wrong with his intention to make it a genuine celebration for all.

He told the Observer: "There is obviously a big narrative going on around healing and coming together. There is no doubt that money has been made available because this country is exiting the European Union, there is no getting away from that.

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"There is also no doubt that we have been through a particularly divisive time in the discourse of our daily lives, and as we go forward, let's see how the great creativity and ingenuity of the UK can help refind that common ground.

"On a very basic level, we are probably due a bit of joy and hope and happiness, and art is really good at that."

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But Green has denied that the event will be a "festival of Brexit" or will be based on the nationalism and patriotism that surrounds Britain's departure from the EU.

"It's a nice line and it makes you look, but I'd argue if you dig down … what on earth would that be about?"

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"It is absolutely expected that there is a degree of cynicism at the start of every major project... I'm lucky in that I've got form in this."

He has also confirmed that the government will be kept away from the creative decisions, telling the newspaper: "We are in charge of the curation of the festival. We will sign off the decisions, working with the devolved nations."

Over the weekend the festival was ridiculed again as reality sunk in that the event is still going ahead.

Matt Haig tweeted: "So the Festival of Brexit will cost the British taxpayer over 40 TIMES more than Harry and Meghan do a year. But instead of attracting overseas visitors, it will put them off and make everything a bit more shit."

Michael Dougan said: "I look forward to celebrating the grotesque triumph of charlatans, the alienation of millions of migrant citizens, the mass removal of rights and protections and the squandering of international influence through the medium of creative dance..."

"49,000,000 British people who didn't vote for Brexit, would likely feel a 'Festival of Brexit' incredibly divisive and a huge waste of money. I for one would boycott it and all organisations who supported it," wrote Andrew Varney.

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