Brexit Through the Rift Shop

Brexit Through the Rift Shop

As the UK grapples with its impending “Brexit” from the EU, millions of English citizens liken the nationalistic movement to an invitation to the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

As the dust settles after the first December general election held in eleventy-seven and four-sixteenth years—much like the detritus of a Christmas family reunion nobody ever wanted to have due to rumours of incest within Granddaddy Johnson’s wacky, psychotic family—we dry our tears, dab our syphilitic stinging wounds, and collapse in a heap, hurtling, screaming into the abyss of our shared and much ridiculed existential British psyches. Once again, we are proud to be an empire in which the sun never sets upon the replica Manchester United jerseys worn by war orphans and Chinese, American, and Russian billionaires alike, the former’s lives and families torn apart by unforgiving and brutal civil war, and the latter, self-satisfied and arrogant, casually looking on, washing their hands of any responsibility. Proud oppressors awaiting another crack at the austerity lottery, whilst wanking over Olivia Colman playing the Queen on glossy Netflix propaganda. It’s a wonderful life.

Sign for a polling station peels and wilts in the driving rain early on Election Day. Image: Ben Rogers.

Artists across the country are slowly coming to terms with the devastating results of the Tory landslide. The same Tory party that has decimated arts funding to a shoestring across the board. Banksy’s anti-Brexit mural depicting a man chiseling a star from the European flag was whitewashed by vandals. The artist stated that the “white flag” that replaced it “says it just as well.” Banksy followed this work with poignant images depicting the UK’s homeless crisis, reindeers pulling a homeless man along on a bench. It will be auctioned off and proceeds donated to a homeless charity. The impact of Brexit on homelessness is yet to be determined, but an economic report for Crisis and Homeless Link (Oakley, Thunder, 2018) states that “workplace protections currently enshrined in EU law could be weakened and removed,”[1] “UK nationals returning from the EU could find themselves at risk of homelessness and with limited access to support,”[2] and that “if the economy performs badly in coming years, the risk of homelessness will increase and the amount of money available for homelessness provision could reduce.”[3]

Banksy mural in Dover, UK. Photo by Paul Appleyard and reproduced under Creative Commons.

Musicians have thrown their socially conscious hats into the political den of lions. UK rap artist, Stormzy, has for months been locked in bitter Twitter conflict with major Tory establishment figures such as Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the clown prince himself, Boris Johnson. Coming out in a fierce attack against government ineptitude and the laissez faire response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Stormzy has pulled no punches and taken no prisoners, releasing a single commemorating the tragedy together with other artists.[4]

After Rees-Mogg’s utterly appalling attack on Grenfell survivors and victims in which he stated that the victims should have used “common sense”—essentially blaming them for their own deaths—the rapper responded, calling Mogg “an actual piece of shit.” When Stormzy promoted the Labour Party before the election, Gove bizarrely quoted the rap artist on Twitter in a shocking “blackface” tweet stating “I set trends dem man copy.”[5] This Twitter missive, coming from a “trusted” member of parliament and representative of the people no less, encapsulates the current trend of grubby, racist, and neo-fascist rhetoric. Toxic sentiments spewing from cowards—proud boys(and girls)—hiding behind a screen.

Institutionalised racism is clearly well alive. Stormzy broke his silence saying that Gove “picked the wrong fucking rapper,” and expressed frustration with political figures who urge critical artists to “stay in [their] lane.” In the latest of Stormzy’s fearless political critiques, he visited his old primary school in Croydon, South London following the election landslide and, when asked, told pupils that Johnson was “a very bad man.”

During the holiday season, a grassroots campaign was launched to promote Jarvis Cocker’s 2006 single, “Running the World,” to the top of the UK singles charts. The lyrics pounce on a zeitgeist sentiment:

If you thought things had changed,
Friend you better think again.
Bluntly put, in the fewest of words,
Cunts are still running the world.

“Running the World” encapsulates what a great many sane thinking British people are feeling in the beleaguered present. The good fight rages on.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s victory lap of the North-East resembled the dead-eyed Night King coming to gloat after his Tory-Blue fire-breathing dragon of the “Get Brexit Done” campaign decimated the traditionally Labour-held red wall of the Shite’s Watch. It seemed that even retreating into a fridge full of milk when confronted by interviewers reasonably asking for some sort of clarity on Boris’s policies, couldn’t deter the already half-zombified proletariat voters. It would only be embarrassing if the vast majority of British people had the capacity to feel such a basic, necessary emotion anymore.

Mobility walkers and used crockery sit outside a junk shop, tragic reminders of the Tory’s devastating austerity policies. Image: Ben Rogers.

But let us move on to the man hailed as the Picasso of far-right thought in the modern, regressive Western World, Nigel Farage, the dark prince of pomposity. A man driven to the brink by his own failures. An awkward cross between the bulbous, cartoonish 4Chan-favourite far-right poster boy, Pepe the Frog (eyes heavy with contempt for the farmers and working class whose best interests he claims are at heart) and a deranged Muppet. The heckling Statler in pinstripe suit, shouting and baying like one of Orwell’s pigs in the EU parliament: the stereotypically crass Little Englander. Farage has stood for election to the House of Commons seven times, with complete and resounding failure every time. His political career is analogous to that of a frat boy trying desperately to sneak a peek into the girls’ locker room, only to have his dick slapped hard. For this slight, Farage became the true architect of the Brexit campaign, the Sauron to Cameron’s simpering Frodo Baggins, finally finding his glory hole.

So what does the future hold for this über salesman of snake oil? Why of course, he will be used as a political shill for his good mate Donald Trump in his 2020 re-election campaign. Wheeled out at rallies like a deranged Dutch darts player with a glass of real ale to hand, he will dance the political Gangnam with grand mal fervour in front of a permanently baffled MAGA audience, they themselves baffling and unfathomable to the lucid onlooker. Numb incredulity pushed beyond return. Throwing pledges and empty rhetoric like stray darts that land way south of the board.

And what of the rumours that the British National Health Service (NHS) will be on the table for sale to the US in future trade talks? The madness of such a bizarrely stark deal beckons supernaturally from the dark recesses—perfectly formed fecal matter squeezed out of Mike Pence’s born again, bleached, and perfectly puckered Christian arsehole. This fecal kraken of a trade deal will rape the NHS as we know it, paving the way for US drugs firms and corporations to inordinately raise costs for treatment and medicines to extortionate vast sums from patients. But for the Trumps, Pences, Johnsons, and Farages of this world, it’ll simply amount to just another dead hooker cover up.

Expert in their slander, they shall reap their demonic reward and all of our mortal souls shall further spiral down the toilet of populist rhetoric. Banksy had planned to update his anti-Brexit mural on “Brexit day” to show a crumpled flag on the ground. It seems he won’t have the chance to do so after the vandal’s buff, much like the vandals in the Houses of Parliament have whitewashed the remnants of social justice. The obliteration of basic human values that the UK has clung onto since Churchill was voted out for a modern and progressive Labour government in the “Spirit of 1945” elections. The result was sweeping reforms to bring employment, education and healthcare for all, not just a select few.

Welcome to the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Enjoy what you voted for, you stinking, snivelling, useful idiots.

[1] Matthew Oakley and Jamie Thunder, “Homelessness and the Impact of Brexit: Tackling the Challenges and Grasping the Opportunities,” A WPI Economics Report for Crisis and Homeless Link, 2018, p. 21.
[2] Oakley and Thunder, “Homelessness,” p. 28.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Their single is available on YouTube. “Artists for Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water,” posted by AFGVEVO, June 21, 2017.
[5] Kehinde Andrews, “‘Twitter Blackface’: Why Michael Gove’s Stormzy Comments are so Egregious,” The Guardian, November 26, 2019.

Filed Under: Editorials


Ben Rogers is an actor and musician, originally from the West Country of England, in the county of Dorset. He has divided his time between New Orleans, New York and the UK.

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