In October of 2018, the UK government announced the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which it calls

A major nationwide festival showcasing the UK’s unique strengths in creativity and innovation will be held in 2022.

The announcement by the government and a BBC article on the matter do not mention Brexit.

On the other hand, articles by CNN and the FT and an opinion column in the Guardian do mention it:

CNN: May's plan for a Brexit festival flops on social media:

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to hold a nationwide festival in 2022 to celebrate Britain's scheduled departure from the European Union next year

The FT Theresa May plans celebratory Brexit festival in 2022

The Guardian: Is Theresa May’s plan for a festival of Brexit just an appalling sop to the DUP?

Do any announcements or statements by the UK government mention the festival is Brexit-related?

  • My guess is that headline editors (the Guardian) or even fact checking (CNN) aren't what they used to be. The Guardian article (body) doesn't say the festival was really planned to celebrate Brexit, but rather that it was derided on the social media with Brexit-related memes like " “Parade of empty supermarket shelves”, “flypast of passenger jets unable to leave the country” and “world’s longest lorry queue”. CNN on the other hand ... rolls eyes ... Mar 29, 2019 at 14:08
  • @Fizz it's actually many more news outlets (e.g. Google for "festival of Brexit Britain" with quotation marks). Either some government representatives or MPs put it that way or all the media outlets copied each other. (I'm not ruling out either)
    – JJJ
    Mar 29, 2019 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Tweet by a Labour MP

So I found an MP, David Lammy, who tweeted the following:

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.

The tweet ended with a link to an article by The New European.

Article by The New European

That article starts with the quote below, but it does not mention who spoke or wrote the words in quotation marks:

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.

Other than that, the article does not present any quotes by the government directly linking the festival to Brexit. It does, however, end with the tweet at the beginning of this answer. Well, that's just going in circles.(?)

Luckily, the article gives us another lead:

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

The Express quoting Jacob Rees-Mogg

There is this article by the Express, dated January 21st 2018 (whereas the other articles are all dated September 2018 or later) and it contains the following quotes on Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is a senior Conservative MP and vocal Brexiteer but not in the government (emphasis is mine):

North East Somerset Tory MP Mr Rees-Mogg said: “A Festival of Brexit would be excellent. There should be a huge celebration and 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.”

  • So it looks like the actual government proposal (which was geared toward Northern Ireland possibly as a favor to DUP) got conflated with the proposal of Rees-Mogg. Mar 29, 2019 at 16:16
  • @Fizz possibly, but since Jacob Rees-Mogg's quotes are dated over 6 months prior to the government's announcement they should have seen it coming. Perhaps they did it on purpose, or they didn't due proper prior research.
    – JJJ
    Mar 29, 2019 at 16:23

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