Drowning, not waving: the unauthorised flag display in Penzance plunges town into fresh Brexit controversy

Posted By on 3rd January 2021

By Julia Penhaligon A “whodunit” mystery is unfolding in Penzance over the hoisting of 18 Union Jack flags along the town’s seafront promenade, to “celebrate” Britain’s final separation from the…


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  1. The Mayor of Penzance was right to declare her opposition to this stunt.

    Brexit is a divisive issue, and will become more so unless its supporters moderate their language and reign in some of their extremists. There was no need for any of this. There’ve been two referenda on EU membership in Norway, but the winning anti-EU faction did *not* taunt their opponents with cries of ‘You Lost, Get Over It’. They didn’t tell them that they’d got to stop expressing their legitimate opinions, and they certainly did *not* say that anybody disagreeing with them should emigrate. Let’s remember – the Brexit campaign was accompanied by a rising tied of fear, hatred, intimidation, and violence – including the assassination of an MP. As this crisis deepens, we’re all going to need one another’s support. It’s both wrong and foolish to mock and intimidate those who disagree with you.

    Whoever perpetrated this stunt knew they were in the wrong. They didn’t go to the Council and ask for permission. No – they sneaked out like thieves at dead of night. And one flag wasn’t enough – they had to put up enough bunting to fill Market Jew Street. Now, there are several problems with that flag. It doesn’t represent Cornwall or Wales. A lot of people have become indifferent to it. The hard Right and other extremists have misappropriated it for their loathsome ideologies. A growing number of people have therefore come to reject it. This sneaky stunt, designed to mock and intimidate, can only make that number grow.

    Some people have suggested that several flags should be flown. This is a very constructive suggestion, and I hope that the Council will cosider it. As well as *that* flag, we also need the St. Piran’s Cross of Cornwall. And yes, we need the lovely European flag, conceived as a symbol of peace and hope in the aftermath of war – years before the conception of what we now call the European Union.

    We are currently being hit by several crises. Some of them are natural, such as climate change and disease. Some are artificial, such as austerity, Brexit, and the Central Government’s corrupt and incompetent handling of the pandemic. We need one another’s help and solidairy more than ever. Some excellent people have been organizing initiatives to keep us all safe, healthy, and nourished. *They* are the people whose example we should follow, not cowards who sneak out like thieves in the night.

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