Naked Politics Blogger
Despite the fact that we’re slowly approaching Parliament’s summer recess, UK politics seems to be showing no sign of slowing down: David Davis has resigned, Boris Johnson has resigned, the latest Brexit White Paper has been put before Parliament and rumours around a Tory leadership contest continue to whirl.
Nevertheless, all the above political machination and theatre hasn’t prevented the country from being gripped this week by a debate around that most famously contentious of subjects… balloons!
When the Government announced that the President of the United States would be making a state visit to the United Kingdom, a crowd-funding campaign soon began to float a blimp around Parliament depicting the President in a nappy. After approval from the Greater London Authority, the blimp made its appearance earlier today.
Some were supportive; former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, tweeted…
Others took a less favourable view of the protest; former leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, said…
In a country with a proud tradition of satire, such a divide on this matter seems strange.
Unfortunately, the context of Brexit in this dilemma cannot be ignored.
When challenging the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, over the decision to permit the blimp, broadcaster Piers Morgan pointed out that “As we come through Brexit, we are going to need a good trade deal with America.”
This sentiment was also expressed by a spokesman for the Republican Party on Channel 4 News recently, and it is a sentiment that goes some way in explaining why the issue has been so divisive.
Since the Brexit vote, the country seems to have been gripped by fear concerning our future trade relationships and who our closest partner(s) might be. The Government committed in its manifesto (see page 35) to leave the EU’s single market and customs union. So, away from the bloc, many have turned to America for the answer.
Whilst Brexit may mean that we have to rely on our Atlantic trading partners a little more, such a reliance shouldn’t amount to grovelling. Lest we forget that we are a country with our own proud history and tradition, one of which being the aforementioned tradition of satire.
The President may hold the key to future prosperity for the United Kingdom, but he is also one of the globe’s most powerful leaders. If such a statesman were to have thrown a temper tantrum over such a mild and peaceful form of protest, it would have proven the blimp’s depiction of him to be an accurate one.
Fortunately, the President himself expressed that he was “fine” with the protest – and so he should be! In the future, let’s hope that this worry over upsetting controversial leaders subsides, and instead that we allow freedom of speech – one of this country’s most fundamental beliefs – to prevail, as we navigate our way through post-Brexit waters.