ON Friday, as we say goodbye to Europe, three million shiny new Brexit 50p coins will be released into circulation.


These coins are just one of a series of rather low-key “celebratory” measures as the UK Government launches itself into the Empire 2.0 years and are inscribed with the ironic motto “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”.

Ironic indeed.

The Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has been quite breathless in his excitement at the release of the commemorative 50p, hailing a new chapter in British history, moving forward with confidence and unleashing the great potential of this fresh dawn ... blah, blah, blah.

All of this verbosity as he ties himself up in knots trying to make up his mind on alignment versus divergence for UK companies post-Brexit.

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Maybe he should remember what he said back in 2016 when he seemed to think that “leaving the EU would lead to a decade of lost prosperity and millions of jobs at risk”. That was when he was still a big fan of the single market, despite his scepticism on the overall European project. Hey, but at least this 50p make up for that danger to our economy! It would seem that Javid does not consider his own job as one of the millions at risk!

Many Remainers are more than miffed by the inscription on this new coin. It symbolises all that is wrong with this petty project of splendid isolation, sold through misinformation and misdirection to the voting public.

The phrase on the coin takes its inspiration from the words of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who believed that “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations” was an essential principle for his administration.

I imagine that Jefferson would be spinning in his grave at the living antithesis of his credo that is the Trump gang of ideologues and chancers; in the UK we have our own tousled terror to worry about, trampling over decades of solidarity with our European neighbours and all in the name of “getting Brexit done”.

So, let us have a look at these three claims of “peace, prosperity and friendship”. These cons on the coin make even the campaign boasts on that bus pale into insignificance.

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Because, in the real world, when it comes to “peace” we may have a few worries on our hands. Even the UK Government’s own analysis has recognised the security risk that Brexit poses, with the threat to intelligence sharing with the EU a vital concern. And now Johnson et al. have a big headache about Huawei, 5G and security issues through their desperation to land future trade deals with China and the US. So which of his big pals will Boris choose to offend?

As for “prosperity”, try telling that to Scottish employees, businesses and SMEs as the truly catastrophic impact of Brexit kicks in, or to those voters in the former “red-wall” regions of the North of England, where a sneaky reallocation of council funds will see poverty-stricken areas losing millions of pounds to the more plush and plump shire counties.

Working families struggling to make ends meet, or the elderly, disabled and sick who are told they’re miraculously fit for work (or have their benefits slashed) won’t be the ones enjoying this mythical prosperity either. This new Brexit dawn is strictly for the few, not the many.

Finally, “friendship”, in some ways the most galling of all of the three claims. This does not extend to victims of the hostile immigration policy designed by former PM Theresa May, and enthusiastically up-dated by the heartless Priti Patel; not for the Windrush citizens or the poor refugee children abandoned and lost to their families in the UK by Johnson’s cruel and deeply immoral rewritten Withdrawal Agreement. In Brexit Britain, the hand of friendship is a very cold shoulder for EU nationals, living in fear for their future life; if your face or accent doesn’t fit, beware.

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But all is not lost. Even as the UK’s political leadership seems intent on transforming the country into a xenophobic, narrow, humourless shadow of its former self, there are still echoes of hope and defiance amongst the wreckage.

#fiftypeesforrefugees has been trending on Twitter this week, with many ordinary people deciding to donate these new Brexit 50p coins to charities, organisations and groups who still value the country’s great tradition of welcome and sanctuary.

It looks like it was Katie MacLean, Aberdeenshire Council’s refugee resettlement co-ordinator, who came up with this wonderful hashtag to express the true values of the coin’s sentiment, with people giving this silly capitalist and old-fashioned stunt short shrift by choosing to donate their 50ps to groups such as the Scottish Refugee Council, Safe Passage UK, Choose Love and Refuweegee, to name but a few.

It is these groups who truly represent real human values – not the bunch of charlatans at No 10.

It’s small rebellious acts like this that are symbolic of hope in a time of worry and division. While many Brexiteers may be selfishly saving their 50ps as a treasured souvenir of their moment of glory, many more people will be giving them away to those that most need our help and support. I can’t help thinking they won’t be worth much before long anyway, as the pound plummets and the disaster capitalists laugh behind their hands at all the gullible Leave coin collectors.

But in the meantime, it’s a small but welcome grassroots act of defiance against the nonsense and nostalgia emanating from the corridors of power.

More of this, and let us turn a sad goodbye into an optimistic à bientôt.