While it doesn’t dominate the news to the extent that it once did, we are still dealing with the legacy of the awful decisions it inspired British politicians to take.

Feel free to copy and paste this introduction for an article about Covid, but today we’re talking Brexit

You might find this hard to believe, but the ‘Festival of Brexit has turned out to be a major flop. 

So you’re saying there were major promises made without sufficient planning, and it’s turned out to be a massive waste of time and money?

Yes. The Festival of Brexit is also known as Big Massive Unsubtle Metaphor In The Park.

Was it actually called ‘the Festival of Brexit’? It seems like the kind of thing that would have some vague, meaningless name created by a PR group at 4.57pm on a Friday. 

It was called Unboxed.

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How did Unboxed come about?

Like ‘how would Montgomery Burns look dancing to Abba?’ and ‘as Home Secretary, who introduced the Hostile Environment Policy and said Britain could deport first and hear appeals later?’, the answer is Theresa May. 

In 2018, Prime Minister May unveiled a programme of art, science and technology projects on the back of the Brexit referendum. 

Was it a success?

You’re asking if something launched by Theresa May was a success?

Good point. How bad was it?

Costing £120 million, it’s reached a combined audience of 18 million against a projected audience of 66 million. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has called it an “irresponsible use of public money” and a “recipe for failure”, and Unboxed is now being investigated by the National Audit Office. 

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Presumably the whole thing started with grander ambitions. 

Dubbed the ‘Festival of Brexit’ by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who later became Brexit Secretary, Unboxed was billed as a ‘celebration of creativity across all four nations of the United Kingdom’. 

Would a better celebration of creativity not be enabling British musicians to travel throughout Europe without drowning in paperwork and red tape, being subjected to significant delays and deeming tours financially unviable due to additional costs such as carnet documents and extended hotel stays?

You would think, but according to civil society campaign group Best for Britain, the number of UK artists booked for festivals in the summer of 2022 was down 45% compared to the period between 2017 and 2019. 


Because of the aforementioned paperwork, red tape, delays and increased costs.

And why are British musicians encountering those issues?

Because of Brexit.

Remind me, where were we celebrating our creativity?

At the Festival of Brexit.