Theresa May proposes £120m festival to celebrate Brexit

PUBLISHED: 15:41 30 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:46 01 October 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the Conservative party annual conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the Conservative party annual conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The prime minister has announced plans for a "festival of Brexit Britain" in a bid to quieten discontent from MPs at the start of Tory party conference.

The bizarre proposal - which is already earmarked to cost £120m – 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.

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The prime minister has said the event would take place as the country goes through a period of “national renewal” as the UK looks to a future outside of the European Union.

May has claimed that the festival would showcase the best of the UK’s talent in business, technology, arts and sport, and hopes events will take place in every region, even those that voted against Brexit.

The Tories are hoping the 2022 event will also take place ahead of the next scheduled general election – although it is thought an election could take place much sooner.

Commenting on the plans Theresa May said: “Almost 70 years ago the Festival of Britain stood as a symbol of change. Britain once again stands on the cusp of a new future as an outward facing global trading nation.

“And, just as millions of Britons celebrated their nation’s great achievements in 1951, we want to showcase what makes our country great today.

“We want to capture that spirit for a new generation, celebrate our nation’s diversity and talent and mark this moment of national renewal with a once-in-a-generation celebration.”

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The idea was originally put forward by leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said earlier this year that it would be a “huge celebration”.

He explained: “In the spirit of friendship of our European neighbours, upon leaving we should drink lots of champagne to say that though we may be leaving the European Union, we don’t dislike Europe.”

The government is rather optimistically hoping that the 2022 celebrations would lead to a repeat of the boost the country gained from the 2012 London Olympics through construction, tourism and trade.

The plan to celebrate Brexit Britain at a cost of £120 million has led to disbelief from all sides on social media.

David Lammy, the Labour MP and anti-Brexit campaigner, tweeted: “Theresa May’s £120 million “Festival of Brexit Britain” is historically illiterate. The Labour government’s 1951 Festival of Britain marked a new era of growth and international cooperation. The opposite of where this Tory government is taking us.”

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