Brexit 50p coins should be 'melted down' again to avoid division, argues former civil servant

PUBLISHED: 08:34 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:34 14 January 2020

The original design for the special 50p coin marking Brexit. Photograph: HM Treasury/Twitter.

The original design for the special 50p coin marking Brexit. Photograph: HM Treasury/Twitter.

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The latest batch of commemorative 50p coins to mark Brexit should be melted down for a third time because they mark 'division not unity', a former civil servant has claimed.

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A rethink was urged by Lord Butler of Brockwell, who said they would "not promote reconciliation or commend us to our neighbours in the EU".

His warning came as peers debated the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which paves the way for Brexit on January 31.

Following a meeting of royal advisers known as the Privy Council in December, the Queen ordered the minting of the new "gold, silver and cupro-nickel coins" featuring the updated exit deadline of January 31.

They will feature the phrase: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations."

Around a million of the special coins to mark the previous Brexit day of October 31 had to be "recycled" after Boris Johnson was forced to seek an extension by parliament.

The government refused to say how much it cost to produce the defunct currency, saying it was "commercially sensitive".

A thousand trial coins had also been struck to mark the first exit date of March 29, subsequently missed by Theresa May.

Speaking during the bill's second reading in the upper chamber, Lord Butler said: "It's reported that having melted down two previous versions, the government plans to issue a commemorative coin on January 31st to mark our departure from the EU.

"January 31st will indeed be an important day in our national history. It's a day that a large proportion of the population, perhaps the majority of the population, will understandably celebrate.

"But we have to remember that nearly half will not.

"The issue of a commemorative coin will commemorate division not unity.

"It will not promote reconciliation or commend us to our neighbours in the EU.

"It will be welcome if, even at the cost of melting down yet another version, the government were to think again."

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