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31 Jan, 2020 14:17

Sweet memento or dartboard substitute? Brexit has spawned tacky merchandise bound to disturb Remainers

Sweet memento or dartboard substitute? Brexit has spawned tacky merchandise bound to disturb Remainers

As Brexit takes effect and the UK leaves the EU tonight, millions might be crying into their pillows, but over 17 million are celebrating – with a range of tea towels, badges and coins rolled out to honour the historic day.

The Royal Mint, the UK government body that supplies the nation’s coinage, announced that three celebratory coins will be up for sale this week. Available in gold and silver, they feature the date 31 January 2020, and the text ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’.

Meanwhile, the Tory Party’s website offers an array of Brexit memorabilia for sale. ‘Got Brexit Done’ magnets, victory mugs, tea towels, and limited edition lapel pins. Tacky or tasteful? Whatever your thoughts, many are relishing every second of the controversial Brexit mania.

Blue badge tourist guide and historian Augusta Harris says such souvenirs are as good a relic in the eyes of history as any. The phenomenon dates back to Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.

Some might see the Brexit coins or tea towels as kitsch, but in 100 years' time they will be a reminder of the social controversy leaving the EU has been. Plus, to many it represents pure victory. It’s been a long road and three years of tumultuous politics to get Brexit through.

The design of the Tory tea towel features an image of an excitable Boris Johnson alongside a Union Jack. Naturally, Brexit critics and Remainers aren’t impressed with such commercialised passion, with mockery thrown about on social media calling it “overpriced tat”, among other things. One Twitter user said: “If it was toilet paper with that picture on, I might be interested,” while another complained with the rephrased classic: “My parents voted for Brexit and all I got was this lousy tea towel.”

The Conservative website, meanwhile, proudly states: “People like you have allowed us to make good on our promises and deliver on the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union. So buy our official lapel pin now to celebrate this amazing accomplishment and our bright future ahead! These represent a momentous new chapter in the UK’s history.” The site then adds that they “make fantastic keepsakes or gifts for friends and family.”

For millions of Remainers, this is a day to crack open a fresh box of tissues. For millions of Leavers, it's more like a crate of champagne – and if a celebratory tea towel isn't enough, a ‘Leave Means Leave’ street party is also taking place in Parliament Square tonight.

For those not wanting to fork out any money of their own, the Royal Mint has announced that three million Brexit coins will enter banks and shops around the UK today, with approximately another seven million going into circulation later this year. Clare Maclennan, director of commemorative coin at the Royal Mint, said: "The Royal Mint has been marking significant events in British history for over 1,000 years, and has a history of commemorating the UK's relationship with the EU through coinage."

But for those who have fought for three years to get Brexit through, perhaps a coin or tea towel isn’t needed today, as the satisfaction of getting the vote past the winning post is all the glory they need.

As for somber and gloomy Remainers, they can now delight in using an image of Boris Johnson to wipe clean their wet and dirty dishes. Or hang it up and use it as a dartboard.