Government confirms 'festival of Brexit' despite fears it will alienate Remainers

PUBLISHED: 12:22 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:23 05 November 2019

Festival of Brexit Britain. Image: TNE/Martin Rowson.

Festival of Brexit Britain. Image: TNE/Martin Rowson.

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The government is pressing ahead with its plans for a 'festival of Brexit', despite calls for the plan to be shelved, in fear it will alienate Remain supporters.

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The proposal is said to have been inspired by the 1851 Great Exhibition during Queen Victoria's reign, and also the post-war festival of Britain in 1951.

It was originally put forward by leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said that it would be a "huge celebration" of Britain leaving the EU.

The event, first announced by Theresa May, is expected to cost £120 million.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said it was now approving and appointing a body to deliver the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022.

The government had hoped that the celebrations would lead to a repeat of the boost the country gained from the 2012 London Olympics through construction, tourism and trade.

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But there has been muted reaction from the culture sector, with the Guardian reporting that many fear the event could alienate Remain voters.

One museum executive told the newspaper: "A lot of museums are quite wary of the whole thing. There's also a sense that if it is a festival of Brexit then it turns into an ethical issue. Half of the audiences would be completely hostile to Brexit."

MORE: 'Festival of Brexit Britain' line-up revealed

The news that the government is continuing with the plan has been met with disdain by anti-Brexit politicians.

Layla Moran, the Lib Dem MP, said the government were trying to "distract" the public.

She said: "I'm astounded that the government is going ahead with what is basically a Brexit festival despite everything that is going on. It is a complete waste of money at a time when funding cuts to our schools, hospitals and local services continue despite government announcements to the contrary.

"The Conservatives are trying to distract us with bread and circuses, but it won't work."

Best for Britain, a campaign group fighting Brexit, tweeted: "Imagine a festival so perverse, it celebrates the very thing that causes us to suffer - and in doing so, makes the problem even worse by wasting money where none need be".

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