Bollocks to Brexit


"Bollocks to Brexit" is a meme and grassroots campaign slogan used by people opposing Brexit, following the result of a 2016 referendum.

Phrase as appearing on stickers

The slogan received media coverage and legal attention, as well as being used by the Liberal Democrats.[1][2]

Merchandise


The phrase was printed on yellow fluorescent stickers (reading "Bollocks to Brexit – It's not a done deal"), which were prominently circulated and displayed on anti-Brexit marches, including the People's Vote march in London on 23 March 2019.[3][4] The stickers were also handed out at major political party conferences in the UK.[5] The New European, a newspaper supporting Britain remaining in the EU, offered a free "Bollocks to Brexit" mug with a subscription.[6]

A "Bollocks to Brexit" bus, parodying the Vote Leave campaign bus that appeared during the 2016 referendum, toured the UK and Ireland in 2018.[7] The bus made stops in Maidenhead, Uxbridge and Islington, constituencies of Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson, as well as leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn.[8] It was inadvertently shown on television after it appeared in the background of an ITV News broadcast.[9]

Subsequently, three minis were decorated with the slogan "Bollocks to Brexit", and prior to the 2019 United Kingdom general election were driven around the UK with the aim of promoting tactical voting.[10]

In the run-up to the 2019 EU elections, the Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable adopted the phrase as the title of their party manifesto.[11] The party's newly elected MEPs wore the slogan on the back of T-shirts at the opening of the European Parliament.[12]

Controversy


The phrase, and merchandise featuring it, attracted legal attention. In March 2018, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow was criticised by the Conservative MP and Leave Means Leave advocate Andrew Bridgen for appearing to display a "Bollocks to Brexit" sign in his car. Bercow said that the car belonged to his wife Sally and he could not be held directly responsible for her thoughts and opinions.[13] In October 2018, Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers and former Conservative Party donor, was ordered by the local council to take down a large "Bollocks to Brexit" sign on top of a company building in Waterloo, London. Commuters complained that the sign was distracting and irrelevant to the business, but Mullins defended his right to free speech[5] and as of March 2019 the sign remained in place.[14]

In March 2019, a man was detained at Gatwick Airport after he refused to remove a "Bollocks to Brexit" badge upon attempting to board a flight.[15] The same month, a protester on the People's Vote march attached a "Bollocks to Brexit" sticker to the front nameplate of the Department for International Trade office in Whitehall in protest at the department secretary, Liam Fox.[16] A woman was refused entrance to the Adelphi Theatre because she was wearing a "Bollocks to Brexit" badge.[17]

Having commenced on the 'mini tour' to promote tactical voting in the 2019 UK General Election, the driver of one of three minis was stopped by an Essex Police officer in November 2019.[18] The officer insisted that the slogan must be removed from the vehicle.[19]

References


  1. Bush, Stephen (10 May 2019). "Why the Liberal Democrats' 'Bollocks to Brexit' slogan is a stroke of genius". New Statesman.
  2. Stern, Stefan (9 May 2019). "The Lib Dems' 'Bollocks to Brexit' is crass, but it might just work - Stefan Stern". The Guardian.
  3. "Losing the will to Leave – A million march for a People's Vote in London". The New European. 23 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  4. "The anti-Brexit march revealed the polite face of tyranny". The Daily Telegraph. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. "Millionaire refuses to take down 'Bollocks to Brexit' poster". The Guardian. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  6. "The New European Newspaper Subscription". Subscription Save. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  7. "'Bollocks to Brexit' campaigners on whistlestop tour to Dublin". Irish Times. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  8. "'Bollocks to Brexit' bus to tour constituencies of May and Corbyn". The Guardian. 25 November 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  9. "'Bollocks to Brexit' bus photobombs the Six O'Clock News". The New European. 21 December 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  10. "The Mini Tour". Bollocks to Brexit. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  11. "'Brexit: Vince Cable stakes Lib Dems' claim as torch carriers for remain". The Guardian. 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  12. "Lib Dem leadership rivals defend anti-Brexit slogan". BBC News. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  13. "Commons Speaker John Bercow criticised over anti-Brexit car window sticker". The Times. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  14. Charlie Mullins (11 March 2019). "Giant 'Bollocks to Brexit' sign soon to be consigned to history (Just like Brexit itself)!". pimlicoplumbers.com. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  15. "Businessman detained at Gatwick over anti-Brexit badge". BBC News. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  16. "Compare the peaceful march for a Final Say with nasty threats of violence from the Brexit far right". The Independent. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  17. "Theatre apologises for making woman remove anti-Brexit badge". 3 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  18. Mercer, David; Burgess, Sanya (25 November 2019). "Police officer 'orders driver to remove B******* to Brexit car sign'". Sky News. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  19. "Driver 'forced by Essex Police to remove Brexit slogan'". BBC News. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.