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‘All I want for Christmas is EU’

Vidya Ram | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on December 22, 2017
The season of mirth: The humour of Brexit-themed cards are popular this Xmas. Photo credit: www.ihearteu.co.uk

The season of mirth: The humour of Brexit-themed cards are popular this Xmas. Photo credit: www.ihearteu.co.uk

On the cards: Brexit-related cards are plentiful, whether in the shops or online. Photo credit: www.notonthehighstreet.com

On the cards: Brexit-related cards are plentiful, whether in the shops or online. Photo credit: www.notonthehighstreet.com

Shake tree: A T-shirt that pronounces the ‘End of the world’ thanks to Trump and Brexit (in that order). Photo credit: www.spreadshirt.co.uk

Shake tree: A T-shirt that pronounces the ‘End of the world’ thanks to Trump and Brexit (in that order). Photo credit: www.spreadshirt.co.uk

Brexit has had a firm presence in everything from cards to entertainment for a second year running

With Brexit on the news 24/7, you may have assumed that Britons would have had their fill of it in the run-up to Christmas and New Year. However, in a country where cheeky memes and take-offs of popular “mottos” have a steady audience, (the pre-World War II propaganda slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ has been repeatedly rehashed and rejigged for selling confectionery to attacking government policy), Brexit has had a firm presence in everything from cards to entertainment for a second year running.

Brexit-related cards are plentiful — whether in the shops or online. ‘Merry Brexit and a Rubbish New Year’, wishes one available at Paperchase, a popular stationery chain, while a website selling goods related entirely to the exiting process — ihearteu.co.uk — has a number playing on popular Christmas songs. Example? ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year to cancel Brexit’, and ‘All I want for Christmas is EU’ (the latter playing on the similarly titled ‘All I Want for Christmas is you’).

There’s of course a good share of Christmas clothing, such as T-shirts, warning ‘It’s all fun and games till Santa finds out you voted Leave’ and another with a Christmas tree rating the progression of awful things. The tree is topped by Donald Trump, followed by Brexit, and the end of the world.

That Brexit could also change Christmas dinners in the UK is something that tickled the funny bones last year and this as well. The centrepiece of this strain are the Brussels sprouts, which is a popular Yuletide meal item. It has lent space for cards bemoaning (or celebrating) the exit of the city at the heart of the EU. (‘How will Christmas be different after Brexit? No Brussels’, says one.) Farmers in the UK, however, have warned that there may not be enough of the edible buds to pass around the table from now on, thanks to a shortage of seasonal workers from Europe. No pickers, no Brussels sprouts.

Brexit also dominated a Christmas competition — contributed to and voted on by the public — to write the best joke for a Christmas cracker (the crackers pulled apart at dining tables typically carry a slapstick joke) run by a British television station. “Why was Theresa May sacked as nativity manager?” The answer: “She couldn’t run a stable government,” referring to the cabinet infighting and about turns over the direction of Brexit policy.

Pantomimes — a popular form of comic theatre entertainment (often parodies of well-known fairy tales) — have also proven ripe for similar jokes given the backstabbing and dealing involved in it (Pantomimes, heavy on audience participation, are known for the lines “He’s Behind You!!” and “Oh no it isn’t”, and “Oh yes it is!”). The Times reported on a raft of shows that had Brexit-related digs. Asked if she was going to leave or remain, Rapunzel, in one of the shows, responds. “Albert, I’m sick of this conversation. Only an idiot would remain.” In a version of Cinderella, Prince Charming’s valet is an Italian full of angst about his future in the country post-Brexit.

The contributions coming from the public, reflect the high levels of emotion around the exit process, and some of the issues it has raised, including the potential to hamper the peace process in Ireland (where the issue of how to avoid a hard border once Britain leaves the single market and customs union remains unresolved). ‘Stop the cavalry’, a well-known Christmas song written by English musician Jona Lewrie in 1980, has been recast as ‘Drop the DUP’, referring to the right-wing Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland who are now propping up the British government, and who came close to scuppering the deal that Britain attempted to strike with Europe over the Irish border). “Will there even be a dole-post Christmas,” sings the creator of the parody, which has gone viral online.

Christmas has also taken a nasty twist in some cases: a Conservative MP in Scotland (the country voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU) tweeted a picture of a Christmas card in which he is labelled ‘Judas’ (because he had voted against the government in legislation going through Parliament) and wishing him a ‘Brexit Christmas’ while others have indicated they have received similar cards.

In a country where preparations for Christmas start well in advance (some shops begin to sell wares several months prior), the impact of Brexit on the economy is continually trudged over in the newspapers, particularly around the issue of inflation. Soaring prices have been a challenge with the weakening of the sterling pound, and newspapers warned that turkeys might be 16 per cent more expensive this year.

While most goods online were targeted at the Remain camp, there were a few exceptions. One user of Gumtree was desperate to sell an “uncherished” number plate that (when twisted round a bit) was the “ultimate Brexit registration number”. XI7 BRE is on sale for £750 (approx ₹65,000). Having been threatened with no Xmas dinner by his partner if this “number goes on one of our cars”, Mark Hoyle added that the proceeds will go to a charity that feeds the homeless.

Published on December 22, 2017
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