The lighter side of Brexit – why we staged our April 1st satire

“The town that wants its own Brexit” was of course a spoof story, but the people are real enough. For Dick Vos read Richard Vos, Liberal Democrat party organiser for Stratford- upon-Avon. Jack Prince, in case you didn’t guess, is myself. We are members of Stratford4Europe, one of the more active and dynamic of the regional pro-European groups.

What we were aiming to do was to inject a bit of humour into the Brexit debate, which has got somewhat bogged down in sterile circular arguments. Humour can cut through the ice where intellectual arguments fail. It can also be therapeutic. Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. So in healing the wounds of a deeply divided nation, it should have some value.

We have certainly found that is true in the case of the Brexit café, a local initiative pioneered by Sophie West which has brought together Remainers and Leavers for friendly discussions. Whilst not comedy, this relies on good humour. At the national level there are initiatives such as the ‘Number 10 Vigil’ – live songs and entertainment featuring a lookalike Boris Johnson, which is no longer confined to Downing Street but has been travelling around the country on the Brexit Truth Bus.

Satire is often the best way to make serious points. For example, the folly of the First World War was poignantly highlighted by the film “Oh! What a Lovely War”, and with no loss of respect for the great fallen. Similarly “The town that wants its own Brexit” highlights the constraints of parochial thinking, with no loss of respect for Leavers.

Obviously, there is always the risk of offending people with a different sense of humour or none at all. A well known example is those who get arrested at airports for trying to make jokes about terrorism. But is any issue so sacrosanct that it is beyond the reach of parody? Probably not. Even the crucifixion was not exempt from being tackled by the Monty Python team, with their unforgettable advice to always look on the bright side of life. By comparison, Brexit should be a piece of cake!

All the same, mindful that politics is always a touchy subject, we checked the script to make sure it would resonate with people irrespective of how they voted. On obtaining almost universal positive reaction, we went ahead with the project.

The mock protest turned out to be great fun. Passers-by joined in the general merriment and helped with our photo-shoot. Stratford felt like the right place for an April fool’s initiative, the Jester statue near Shakespeare’s birthplace being inscribed with lines such as these:

The fool doth think he is wise. But the wise man knows himself to be a fool

(As you like it).

* John King is a retired doctor and Remain campaigner.

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3 Comments

  • Steve Trevethan 1st Apr '18 - 3:20pm

    Thank you for such a jolly relevant jape!

  • Peter Martin 2nd Apr '18 - 8:06am

    I did see a suggestion, yesterday, on one of the Leave sites that the EU had come up with a cunning plan to keep Europe together and prevent the UK from separating.

    Simply, all countries would apply simultaneously to join the UK. It would be hard for any UK Government to refuse. Then, hey presto, we’d have freedom of movement throughout Europe, we’d have a common currency, a single market, a single Parliament, a single taxation system, Common agricultural and fishing policies etc etc. Everything the EU is working for, and with all the work already done!

    TBH I think yesterday’s date might have had something to do with it, but you’d have to agree it would work in principle. So why not?

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