Brexit ‘will begin with a whimper, not a bang’

Brexit will begin with “a whimper, not a bang”, an MP has said, with no official ceremonies planned for exit day on March 29.

No street parties, EU flag-lowering ceremonies or bongs from Big Ben have been planned, the Government has confirmed to the SNP’s Patrick Grady.

The news came after Theresa May abandoned her refusal to countenance any delay to Brexit with confirmation that she will hold a vote for a “short” extension if votes on her deal and no deal fail.

Despite the Prime Minister’s claim of healing the divisions caused by the EU referendum, Mr Grady said the only people likely to be celebrating on departure day were European Reform Group (ERG) members, the arch-Brexiteers led by Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“It seems if Brexit does actually happen on March 29 this year, it will be a with a whimper, not a bang,” said Mr Grady.

“There will be very little to celebrate when or if Brexit day finally arrives, but the news that there are no flag-lowering or any other official ceremonies planned will perhaps disappoint Brexiteers who are convinced a glorious new era of splendid isolation awaits the UK.

“There may be some champagne supped by elite members of the ERG, but I doubt there will be parties or rejoicing on the streets of towns and cities across the UK if the country crashes out with no deal, or even a version of the woeful deal negotiated by the PM.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg (The Spectator/PA)

Responding to a series of parliamentary questions, culture minister Michael Ellis ruled out funding for communities to hold Brexit festivals, street parties or other events.

“There are no plans to make funding available for such events,” he said.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed there are no plans for MPs to mark Brexit in the Commons on March 29 or 30.

She said: “There are currently no plans for the House to sit on either March 29 or 30. Any changes to the sitting hours of the House would need to be agreed by the House in the usual way.”

POLITICS Brexit
(PA Graphics)

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington confirmed Parliament’s famous bell Big Ben would not be ringing, as it does for the new year and other special occasions.

“There are currently no arrangements for Big Ben to chime to mark the UK’s departure from the EU,” he said.

Mr Lidington also confirmed there were no plans for any ceremony involving the lowering of EU flags in or around Parliament Square

He said: “We have no plans to seek to lower the EU flag on leaving the European Union, as it is already the case that the EU flag is not flown in Westminster or Whitehall.”

The only official plans to mark the occasion appear to be the creation of a new 50p coin by the Royal Mint.

Patrick Grady
Patrick Grady (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Grady said: “Perhaps the real reason there are no plans for March 29 is because the Tory Government have known for some time that the date is completely unrealistic.

“The House of Commons has already ruled out no deal, and the Prime Minister has now conceded that it will need to have a formal opportunity to extend Article 50.

“Any extension period should include a People’s Vote so that now the true cost of Brexit is clear, people can choose to keep the deal we already have by remaining a member of the EU.”

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