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The Brexit 50p: how has one coin caused so much controversy?


Name: The Brexit 50p.

Age: Unveiled this weekend.

Slogan: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.”

Is that really on a coin? I can assure you it is. You’ll have it in your pocket soon.

It isn’t a joke? No. Sajid Javid is presenting Boris Johnson with one this week, before they go into full nationwide circulation.

Well, I won’t be using them. Let me guess – you voted remain.

I did, and the thought of having to pay for goods with a coin that stands in direct opposition to my core beliefs fills me with incredible anger. You’re not alone. Several high-profile remainers have pledged not to use the coin.

Oh really? Yes. On Sunday, Alastair Campbell tweeted: “I for one shall be asking shopkeepers for ‘two 20p pieces and a 10’ if they offer me a 50p coin pretending that Brexit is about ‘peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ given it puts all three at risk.”

And if they refuse his request? He tweeted a video of Brian Cox saying repeatedly ‘fuck off’ directly to camera, and said: “I will be channeling this man.”

That’s right Alastair! Fight the power! Yes, by angrily swearing at a procession of confused minimum-wage retail workers.

Who else is boycotting them? Philip Pullman – but only on the basis that he believes they are grammatically incorrect. “The ‘Brexit’ 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people,” he tweeted on Sunday. He believes it should read: “Peace, prosperity, and friendship with all nations.”

Is he right? Well, Guardian house style does not use the Oxford comma in straightforward lists unless it helps the reader. Compare: “I blame this Brexit mess on my grandparents, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage” with: “I blame this Brexit mess on my grandparents, Boris Johnson, and Nigel Farage.”

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Wow, that first one is quite the image! Anyway, we’ve got much bigger fish to fry now.

Like what? Like, oh, I don’t know, that ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ seems like an odd phrase to put on our loose change after leaving the European Union, given that it was basically the entire point of the EU as a concept in the first place.

The font is a bit funny, isn’t it? I think I had a similar one on my word processor in about 1995. A bloke who went to my school has a full back tattoo of all of his children’s names in the same font.

So you won’t be using the new Brexit 50p coin? I absolutely will not.

Because you’re ideologically opposed to its message? No, because contactless payment exists now. What sort of caveperson still uses coins?

Do say: “Let’s mark our exit from Europe with a beautiful commemorative 50p coin.”

Don’t say: “Because once we’ve actually left, they’ll be worth about 32p.”





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