Tom Peck, The Independent
News then, of the “Festival of Brexit”, first announced in 2018 by Theresa May, who didn’t vote for it. It’s got a new name, for a start, which is “Unboxed: Creativity in the UK”. The word Brexit has been got rid of.
You can see why it had to go, given that the government has had to ask actual creative people to work on it, not one of whom voted for it, and whose industries are already struggling to recover from the damage done by it. (with the exception of The Who lead singer Roger Daltrey, who now likes to do TV interviews about how great but actually bad Brexit is, with all its eminently foreseeable consequences that he didn’t foresee.)
Unboxed, which is already giving off a real Millennium Dome vibe, is going to feature neon-light cube farms placed on cliff edges, augmented reality hiking trails that show just how big — but also how small — the solar system is, and a repurposed North Sea oil rig in Weston-super-Mare which will, we are told, “celebrate British weather” — as if Brexit weren’t enough to celebrate all on its own. Of course, there is that lingering doubt that the real Brexit festival is the one we’ve been living in all this time. It’s already been said, many times before, that Brexit is the national version of one of those car park based “Winter Wonderland” attractions, where you lined up in the mud for three hours to meet a p***** Santa, being threatened all the while by Staffordshire bull terrier “reindeer” wearing plastic antlers. But there’s nothing you can do about it now, so best to just consider of it less as your actual country, your actual life, which has gone to actual s***, and more a kind immersive theatre experience.
Where the people that brought you, “there will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside”, now go on the weird TV channel they launched for themselves to say that, alright, alright, no there won’t be any turkey this Christmas, or any toys, but actually — actually, actually, actually — Christmas isn’t about the little things, like food, or presents, it’s about, erm, it’s about erm, it’s about. Look, these are the sunlit uplands alright so stop whining and try and enjoy it. All this, surely, is beside the point anyway, now that we know the real festival of Brexit has already happened. It was happening every weekend, actually, all through the hot leave summer of 2016, on the 14th floor of a non-descript office block near Vauxhall, which was the Vote Leave HQ.
In his latest perfectly normal blogpost, Dominic Cummings has described the scene at Vote Leave HQ, back in those heady days as being entirely symptomatic of “what winning political campaigns look like”.
“There are,” he types, “hot women and beer and pizza and music in the office on Friday and Saturday night because the place is bursting with energy.” I mean, look, maybe, he’s right. I personally only went to Vote Leave HQ perhaps six times back then. And it must have been my bad luck that I missed out on all the debauched bacchanalia, attending only for a speech by Chris Grayling, and on that morning on 24 June 2016, where Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were apparently celebrating but were wearing the kind of ashen-faced look that is usually described as having “remained expressionless when the jury returned their verdict”.
Maybe it did all go off the chain when the cameras were switched off and the snappers went home, and they all took their red T-shirts off and went absolutely wild in the full suits they were all wearing under them. And it’s probably all just coincidence that it sounds a little bit like Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room back in 2004, where, having not quite managed to make any actual girls talk to him, instead built a website through which you could at least rate their looks.
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It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit
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