We went to the premiere of ‘BREXIT: The Movie’
It was as silly as it sounds
The referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union is getting closer and closer. Both sides are bombarding the electorate with arguments and slogans trying to convince us theirs is the right way. Boris and Farage are yelling leave; Cameron and Corbyn are shouting stay. The debate is incredibly noisy.
The ‘Out’ camps latest big idea? An official Brexit ‘movie’, which premiered at Leicester Square last night. There was a red carpet; the dress-code was black tie with a British theme; Nigel Farage turned up.
But could it sway two undecided voters? We went along to find out.
We arrived when the ‘glitzy’ premiere was in full swing and its commentators in garrulous humour. We heard gems including “the idea of pooled sovereignty is bollocks”, “the EU isn’t undemocratic it is antidemocratic” and – my favourite – “unelected bureaucrats in Brussels get free Viagra”.
What struck us immediately was quite how busy it was. A huge queue was heaving its way towards the cinema, and there was a substantial crowd of Brexiteers, journalists and curious passers-by massing around the red carpet. We wrestled our way through a suited mob of sceptics to get close to the entrance. The women shone on the red carpet impressing all snap happy journalists unlike the men, who looked like they had only seen the dim light of cabinet meetings and council debates.
Above, ‘big names’ (probably) looked down on the crowd in the square – like royalty observing peasants – while swilling champagne.
A gleaming Jag ploughed its way through the mob of people onto the red carpet to drop off one distinguished guest: former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Nigel Lawson. He was taken right to the front door of the cinema.
We managed to jump the horrendous queue and entered the foyer. The film was financed by 1,800 supporters who raised £100,000 – half of which came from a single hedge fund manager. Inside we found those supporters – many wearing UKIP or Vote Leave badges. They were not shy about their radical views on Europe, nor shy about their radical idea of what constituted an outfit.
The big backers like Ukip’s Nigel Farage, David Davis MP and Labour’s Kate Hoey were all upstairs at the bar or smoking area. We were surrounded by loud drunk men boasting about how the film could “reduce Fortress Europe to rubble” and “expose the EU racket” for what it is. I got a picture with the masked man and asked him about the odd choice of head-wear.
“Well in V for Vendetta there is an uprising where the people of the UK take down a fascist government,” he said. “I want the same thing to happen but with the European Union!”
We took to the smoking area in our quest to find Farage. Everyone was fighting over each other to have a chat and a picture with Britain’s most hated Euro-sceptic, but we were able to offer him a quick cigarette. He was a lot nicer – and shorter – than we had expected. Though he was quickly whisked away by two PAs.
As the movie was set to start, we made our way to our seats – blocked en route by the gang of David Davis, Kate Hoey, Steven Woolfe (Ukip MEP) and Farage. Someone cried raucously, “they have got all the trouble makers in the same place now!”
Farage then toddled into the nearby men’s bathroom. Two other supporters tried to follow but were refused by Nigel’s PA who blocked the door, urging, “you can’t go in, Nigel is inside!”
Director Martin Durkin strolled on stage to immense applause. He gave a short speech under a spotlight revealing that the film that had taken only ten weeks to make, and had used “our power, our money”. Right-o.
We were encouraged to “get drunk and watch it with your mates”. He claimed that over the next month it would be watched by over six million people and that it could sway the referendum in the Leave Campaign’s favour.
The film started with an ominous soundtrack full of overhead shots of London inter-spersed with quotes from leading sceptics. At one point, the room erupted with cheers, screams and deafening applause at the mention of the Magna Carta. There were roars of laughter about certain EU laws and the regulations on pillows and spoons. We didn’t get these joke.
French, Chinese and Italians were stereotyped on screen: the French guy – with beret, moustache, onions and a striped shirt – made the room howl. We sat uneasy in our seats as the film rolled on.
It did, however make some interesting points about how the EU works. Like how there are four presidents of the EU, who, nobody in the UK elected, yet who still decide laws and regulation on citizens’ day to day lives. The film did conveniently miss out the benefits of the EU and the negatives of the UK leaving it.
To be honest, it was more of a movie about British history and how so many countries around the world in the 21st century are doing better than us – giving the UK’s membership of the EU as the reason for its decline, and taking into account few other factors.
There was no real summary or conclusion – though it still brought its audience to a standing ovation. As the sceptics filed out there was a sense of justice in the air from the supporters. Like the EU had been finally exposed for what it was. We were just relieved it had finished.