Theresa May announced the £120million concept in 2018 which is expected to consist of a large number of events across the country. Boris Johnson says that it would give a significant cultural boost to the UK with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport set to start work commissioning agencies to develop festival material.
The proposal was said to have been inspired by the 1851 Great Exhibition during Queen Victoria’s reign, and also the post-war Festival of Britain in 1951.
Now, a furious campaign led by a veteran Lib Dem politician has called on the UK Government to scrap the festival, which has faced opposition from the SNP over its name.
Highlands MP Jamie Stone claimed the Festival was “sick” especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The MP for Caithness in Northern Scotland launched the petition and claims the UK Government had their priorities wrong claiming families were suffering due to COVID-19.
He said: “Britain’s culture calamity is real thanks to Brexit, yet the taxpayer is being asked to cough up £120million for bread and circuses.
“Frankly, I thought this Brexit festival was sick before a pandemic – but given we’ve got kids starving, carers suffering on a minimum wage and millions of people out of work and locked out of financial support, well, it’s testament to how skewed the Tory moral compass really is.
“I hope people will support my call to cancel this insulting Brexit festival – regardless of how they voted in the referendum – and for the money to be redirected to a COVID-19 recovery fund.”
Nationalists have also claimed the festival would simply boost the prospect of Scottish independence.
“It will be a tremendous showcase for our creativity and innovation, which will not only celebrate our values and identities but will also help attract new inward business and investment.”
The festival’s statement adds: “Taking place in the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the festival will amplify key anniversary celebrations of some of our most beloved institutions.
“In 2022, The BBC will mark its 100th birthday, the Edinburgh International and Fringe Festivals will celebrate their 75th anniversary and Birmingham will welcome 54 Heads of State to the Commonwealth Games.”
Meanwhile, more than 20 artists and theatre companies have also signed an open letter calling for the cancellation of the event.
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