MPs' fury as 'Festival of Brexit' rebranded with no mention of leaving the EU

21 October 2021, 17:50 | Updated: 23 October 2021, 07:29

The festival was created as a celebration of the UK's independence from the EU
The festival was created as a celebration of the UK's independence from the EU. Picture: Alamy/59 Productions/The Poetry Society/Stemettes

By Daisy Stephens

The event, dubbed the 'Festival of Brexit', has been officially named 'Unboxed: Creativity in the UK', in an apparent move to distance the celebrations from the UK's departure from the EU.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the planned programme of events, running from March to October 2022, would be a celebration of the "ingenuity, energy, innovation, optimism" of the UK, and branded the festival "fantastic".

"Today, we are launching our fantastic new festival – Unboxed: Creativity in the UK," he said.

"A celebration of UK ingenuity, energy, innovation, optimism and all-round creative genius, it will be unlike anything else that has been seen before.

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"Light shows, sculpture trails and a festival of ideas are just some of the spectacular events that will take place in locations across the UK – alongside work and experiences you can interact with digitally."

He added: "From the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 2022 is going to be a year of celebrating the UK at its best."

The festival, previously known officially under the working title of Festival UK 2022, was originally created to celebrate the UK's future outside the EU.

It will receive £120 million of Government funding.

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Ten projects will take place over the seven month period at different locations across the UK, drawing in creative people "across science, technology, engineering, arts and math", according to Martin Green CBE, the Chief Creative Officer of Unboxed.

"Unboxed represents an unprecedented and timely 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," added Mr Green.

Furious MPs have hit out at the decision to omit any mention of the word 'Brexit', with Tory MP for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay saying it was "a great opportunity missed".

"What could have been a great celebration of global Britain post-Brexit has now been Whitehall sanitised down into something anodyne and meaningless," he told the Telegraph.

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Conservative MP for Clwyd West David Jones also said it was a missed opportunity.

"Brexit is the rebirth of the UK as an independent nation," he told the paper.

"It is something that we should be celebrating and this is a huge opportunity to do so."

He added a number of other MPs would want to 'take it up' with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who said Unboxed was about ensuring everyone had the "opportunity to experience world-leading arts and culture no matter what their background or where they’re from".