Controversial Brexit Museum launches drive for donations

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Controversial Brexit Museum launches drive for donations
In this file photo taken on March 02, 2021 Pedestrians walk along a near-deserted street in the City of London on March 2,2021, as 20 Fenchurch Street, commonly known as the 'Walkie Talkie' looms in the background. AFP Photo.

LONDON (AFP).- A group of British campaigners have launched a drive for donations of money and exhibits for a Museum of Brexit as the controversial project has gained charitable status, a spokesman told AFP on Monday.

The plan to create the museum was first raised by Brexiteers soon after the 2016 referendum which resulted in a vote in favour of leaving the EU.

In 2018 organisers asked people to donate relevant items to collection points around the country.

The museum has now been granted charitable status, meaning it will be regulated by the Charity Commission and donations can be marked up against tax, spokesman Gawain Towler said.

The plan to open a physical museum is no longer a "pipe dream," since an unnamed supporter has promised a "reasonable donation" that means the organisers can look for premises to purchase, added Towler, a former spokesman for the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party (UKIP).

The announcement prompted an angry reaction on social media, with opponents posting images of Brexit's negative impact including lorries queued up waiting to cross the Channel and empty supermarket shelves.

"This feels a bit like opening a Blitz Museum in 1941," tweeted writer and comedian Katy Brand.

An online poll by the Daily Telegraph right-wing broadsheet found that almost 70 percent of those who responded would not visit such a museum.

The organisers hope to find premises in "red-wall Midlands," the blue-collar regions of central England where many backed Brexit, Towler said.

"What we want to do is get ourselves up and running in a very modest way," he explained, with plans to raise around £700,000 (nearly 1 million dollars) for costs such as hiring a professional curator.

Towler said it was unlikely the museum would open this year.

Brexit figurehead Nigel Farage "supports the concept" but has no role in the museum's planning, he said.

The museum will focus on what Towler calls a movement of "the little people" in the 1970s and 80s when "less than one percent of the population believed it was possible."

Nonetheless Farage will be included, and "I will probably ask him for one of his pinstriped suits," he said.

The quest is on for documents such as flyers for pub meetings, Towler said.

"Those things are generally sitting in a cardboard box in someone's garage."

So far most donations are documents such as letters, flyers and posters, he said.

The museum organisers are also "certainly collecting" items from opponents of Brexit, he said.

But he argued that the museum does not have to be balanced because the campaign for European integration is closely documented elsewhere.

"The focus is on the side that won," said Towler.

The museum hopes to offer resources to researchers and become "more like a presidential library", he said.

He acknowledged widespread opposition to the plan.

"The anger is visceral still."

© Agence France-Presse

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