Tory MPs have expressed their disappointment after it was announced that an event initially dubbed the ‘Festival of Brexit’ will now be called ‘Unboxed’ in a bid to be ‘open, original and optimistic’.
The festival, which will be funded by the government with £120 million from taxpayers’ money, was coined in 2018 as a celebration of UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
But according to The Telegraph, organisers are now intending to distance themselves from Brexit, whilst preparing for the first festival edition in 2022, to the disappointment of a handful of Tories.
Brexiteer Craig Mackinlay, Tory MP for South Thanet, told the newspaper: “What could have been a great celebration of global Britain post-Brexit has now been Whitehall sanitised down into something anodyne and meaningless – it is a great opportunity missed.”
And David Jones, MP for Clwyd West, said he was “shocked” that Brexit will not get a mention under the national celebration banner.
“Brexit is the rebirth of the UK as an independent nation. It is something that we should be celebrating and this is a huge opportunity to do so,” he told The Telegraph.
He added: “I very much hope that reference to Brexit will be made in future. A lot of colleagues will wish to take this up with new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.”
Martin Green, Unboxed’s chief creative officer, said Unboxed is an “unprecedented” opportunity for people to “come together across the UK and beyond and take part in awe-inspiring projects that speak to who we are and explore the ideas that will define our futures.”
‘Educational programmes’ and ‘opportunities’
The event, which was commissioned under former prime minister Theresa May in 2018, has been supported and funded by prime minister Boris Johnson and will take place “from the Outer Hebrides to Dover, and from Omagh to Swansea, right across the UK” between March and October next year.
According to The Guardian, the festival will offer thousands of children the chance to take part in “educational programmes” and will create “opportunities for emerging talent”.
Dame Vikki Heywood, the chair of the Unboxed board, said: “The programme will support economic recovery in the UK by reanimating towns and cities and expanding our connectivity through new online communities. As the programme unfolds, it will both entertain us and inspire us to imagine what the future might hold.”
Reactions did not delay to appear in light of these news.
One Twitter user joked the government will “issue temporary visas to EU residents to staff the Festival of Brexit”, bringing a reminder of Brexit’s impact of labour shortages across supply chains.
And university professor, Dr Matthew Fraser, said: “Unbelievable. This concept is totally absurd.”
Related: Law professor warns UK of ‘serious suffering’ from Johnson’s hard Brexit