Wednesday 13 December 2017

The campaign's top 10 moments of pure farce

Boris Johnson. Photo: PA
Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

Michael Deacon

10: Boris Johnson launched his campaign with a speech at a warehouse in Kent. Afterwards, he mingled with his audience. "Thank you for coming!" he boomed at one woman. "We have to come," she replied, "we work here."

9: In a bid to win the youth vote, David Cameron told students in Exeter he always watches Glastonbury on television "in front of a warm fire". Glastonbury is in June.

8: His efforts to impress the young took a further blow when a boy at a rally tried to greet him with a fist-bump. The PM gave a bewildered smile and patted him on the knuckles.

7: Britain's Lord Rose's chairmanship of the In campaign was beset with difficulties, not least his inability to remember its name. He told Sky News it was Stay in Britain, then Better in Britain, then Better Stay in Britain. It was actually Britain Stronger in Europe.

6: The majestic high point of Project Fear was the warning by Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary, that Brexit would prevent "our young people" going interrailing.

5: The Leave campaign organised a Brexit pop concert, boasting such luminaries as East 17, an Elvis impersonator and four ex-members of Buck's Fizz. Several acts pulled out when they realised what the concert was in aid of. It was cancelled.

4: Live on television, Michael Gove announced that John Barnes was backing Brexit. This was news to the ex-footballer, who rang in to protest that he was backing Remain. In tribute, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron filmed himself performing Barnes's rap from the 1990 England World Cup song 'World in Motion'. "Catch me if you can, cos I'm an England man," spat Mr Farron, "and what you're looking at is the master plan." (Well, either that or a 46-year-old Lib Dem from Cumbria rapping on a bus.)

3: At Ukip's final press conference, MEP Steven Woolfe read a poem he'd written about the EU. "Freeborn men and women cry," he intoned, voice choked with emotion. "'Why, oh why, oh why, oh why?'"

2: At a cattle market in Lancashire, Boris Johnson auctioned a cow. Perhaps characteristically, his pitch was enthusiastic but thin on detail. "Beautiful specimen.… Contented cow.… This beautiful, beautiful…- what is she? Beautiful cow!"

1: Nigel Farage being chased down the Thames by Bob Geldof flicking V-signs while pro-Brexit fishermen squirted water at pro-EU dinghies and 100 people on a bridge sang 'Rule Britannia'.

Irish Independent

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