Politics

'There's grim pickings when listing what makes Britain great today'


It is the last thing any country with a scintilla of self-awareness would contemplate in the current climate.

But this is Johnson’s Britain so let’s ditch that criterion and welcome the update on the Festival of Brexit, which was proposed by Theresa May in 2018 “to showcase what makes our country great today”.

We may be failing to defeat an economy-smashing pandemic, losing free access to our biggest trading market and ripping up international laws, but we still want to show the world what an exciting future Britain has.

By reminding ourselves of patriotic festivals in 1851 and 1951. Oh dear. As Jim Bowen said to all losers on Bullseye: “Let’s have a look at what you could’ve won.”

This week organisers announced £100,000 grants to successful pitches, and I’m proposing an opening ceremony that celebrates where we are in history.

The Olympic Games in 2012 showcased Britain at its best

I’ve studied Danny Boyle’s 2012 Olympics extravaganza which celebrated the likes of the NHS, the Jarrow March, the Sex Pistols and the Windrush Generation so that I can do the opposite. Because that “Marxist tripe” as one right-winger put it is not the version of history Johnson’s cronies want for the 2022 Great Borexhibition. No, this is their vision…

To set the festival behind the White Cliffs of Dover, in one of the many giant no-deal lorry parks, and open with Nigel Farage reading lines from Kipling’s poem The White Man’s Burden.

Paying tribute to the glorious Victorian era, Jacob Rees-Mogg will recreate the chimney sweep roof scene from Mary Poppins with unemployed school leavers, while on a specially built beach, Mark Francois will re-stage D-Day with hundreds of Nazi extras perishing at his Territorial Army-trained hands.

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We’ll celebrate the slave trade under a “Rich Georgian Lives Matter” banner, our invention of the concentration camp during the Boer War and the Amritsar Massacre.

We’ll have a virtual tour round Britain’s once-proud cities, where you can interact with families queuing at food banks, marvel at the boarded-up shops and the homeless hordes sleeping in the doorways and peruse libraries turned into Wetherspoons pubs.

Food stalls will sell similar fare to the 1951 exhibition, not as a kitsch tribute but because in two years we’ll all be back on rations.

There will be imperial measures of scrumpy on tap and Liz Truss will run a Buy British Cheese stall, bellowing “that is a disgrace” if you ask for Camembert.

We’ll see a drive-past of Triumph motorbikes and Morris Minors, and marching kids holding Meccano toys and eating Spangles. Musically there will be a Vera Lynn hologram, Mike Read belting out UK Calypso and Gary Barlow doing a Beatles tribute act with songs like Taxman and You’ve Got To Hide Your Lolly Away. And, of course, we’ll celebrate true British humour, with Jim Davidson doing Chalky White impressions for the black dignitaries.

There will be games such as Pin the Blame on the Migrant, a shooting gallery where you win a free TV licence for hitting Gary Lineker or Emily Maitlis, and Grandma’s Footsteps, where you dress up as Margaret Thatcher and stamp on the poor.

And the big finale will see Donald Trump descend from Air Force One on a throne, tossing out chlorinated chicken as Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock crawl towards him delivering models of NHS hospitals with dollar price tags on.

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I think I’m on to a winner, folks.





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