Theresa May failed to let us in on her post-Brexit festival plans – so I came up with a few suggestions

What about an ‘Easiest Trade Deals In Human History Zone’ where Liam Fox is your guide on a stroll through a disused Sunderland car plant, now retooled for use as the Northeast’s premier bubonic rat sanctuary?


Matthew Norman
Monday 01 October 2018 10:50 BST
Conservative Party Conference: Five things to watch

Are you counting the hours? I certainly am, even though the exact number of hours before Theresa May’s “The Festival” can’t be calculated.

All anyone knows for sure is that at some point in 2022, the country will be enraptured by a celebration of pride in everything that’s wonderful about post-Brexit Britain. And all for a bargain £120m.

Announcing this thrilling news on the eve of what is expected to be a serene Tory conference, the prime minister revved up her imaginary DeLorean to take us back to the future.

“Almost 70 years ago, the Festival of Britain stood as a symbol of change,” she recalled of the 1951 event that cheered a nation fatigued almost beyond endurance by post-war austerity (food, as she curiously forgot to mention, was still heavily rationed). “Britain once again stands on the cusp of a new future as an outward-facing, global trading nation.”

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Oh, but it does though, doesn’t it? It really, really does, as the vibrant optimism coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic leaves not a nanometre’s wiggle room for doubt.

The promised land is still some way off from this heavenly cusp, of course, so the vision of our golden future remains blurry. It could be that May is the Moses of this epic, destined to leave the last stage of the trek to one of the wannabe Joshuas – Boris Johnson, Moggy, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, or whoever – respectfully awaiting her demise.

But even if that is her fate – even if she must perish in the wilderness with the job not quite done – she will live in eternal glory for bequeathing us The Festival.

Along with the launch date, all the details tend towards the vague. This is probably because, with Barnumesque showpersonship in mind, May and her culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, don’t want to ruin the surprises.

Alternatively, it might be because they cooked this up in 43 seconds, on the back of the smallest envelope ever to emerge from the Basildon Bond factory, as a simpleton exercise in distraction.

Either way, everyone will have their own ideas about what it should feature. Here, for what incalculably little it’s worth, are a few of mine.

The Food Shopping Zone: In honour of Britain’s recreation as a Warsaw Pact tribute act, festivalgoers will flock to the largest Tesco in Manchester (twin towns: 1969 Krakow; 1976 Bucharest; and 1983 Sofia) to watch cheery locals spend six hours queueing for a leek. Weekend visitors must bring their ration books if they want to enter the Sunday morning big-prize raffle (first prize: a tin of own brand cock-a-leekie soup a maximum of 138 weeks past its use-by date).

The Medical Zone: With Britain the envy of the world in the field of pioneering pharmaceuticals, why not join a tour of University College Hospital to watch one of London’s three remaining oncologists as they trial a highly promising new approach to curing metastatic melanoma? If the preferred cutting edge treatment is unavailable, due to the lack of cheap eastern European labour for the leech farm harvest, marvel instead at the trailblazing use of bloodletting.

The Heroes of Our Reclaimed Sovereignty Zone: Digitised images of the titans of Brexit at pivotal campaign moments will be projected on to the domed ceiling of the Planetarium in Baker Street. Watch a hologram Johnson at his desk, for instance, staring bemusedly at the split computer screen as he ponders whether to file his Out column or his Remain column to the Telegraph – before shrugging his shoulders and flipping the coin. On power cut days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday), when there is no electricity, late puppeteer Harry Corbett will step in to recreate the legendary scenes with Sooty, Sweep, Soo the panda and his lovable new character, de Pfeffel the Twat.

The Lorry Trail Skeleton Zone: The largest exhibit, this will stretch almost 600 miles from the M20 Folkestone turn-off to Gove’s hometown of Aberdeen. Visitors are advised to take a nosegay. It’s likely that the corpses of all would-be Channel-crossing truck drivers will have completely decomposed by 2022. But why take the risk?

The Easiest Trade Deals In Human History Zone: Liam Fox is your guide on a diverting stroll through a disused Sunderland car plant, now retooled for use as the Northeast’s premier bubonic rat sanctuary. Don’t worry about bites or infection. The good doctor will be on hand with his first aid kit and the reassurance that treating the plague with a soluble baby aspirin is the second easiest thing EVER.

The It’s All The Fault Of The Remoaners And Mark Carney Lecture Zone: Nigel Farage is your genial host for what will undoubtedly be the most authentic Brexit experience of them all. On the hour, every hour, Farage will give a 30-minute keynote address blaming the decline in living standards on the treasonous traitors who betrayed us by treacherously warning that living standards would decline. Not, of course, that it wasn’t worth it. “No pain, no gain,” he will end his Churchillian keynote address, beamed live to giant screens across the land from his grace-and-favour Mar-A-Lago condo. “We’ve got our country back.”

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