In an attempt to celebrate Britain’s exit from the European Union on Friday 31 January 2020, the UK Government has unveiled a commemorative ‘Brexit’ 50 pence coin.
The coin was originally due to be released on 31 October 2019, the second re-scheduled date of departure. However, it had to be recycled due to the delay.
Yet the new coin has already come under intense criticism before it has even come into circulation. Sir Philip Pullman, an author, is currently calling for a boycott of the new coin and has since sparked a debate about punctuation as his qualm with the coin lies in the fact it is missing an ‘Oxford comma’.
However, activists across the country are similarly unimpressed with the coin but are finding a better use of it: there is a call unto the public to donate the 50 pence piece, should they come across it, to a refugee charity which is running the hashtag #FiftyPeesForRefugees.
The sentiment itself is pleasant but ironic, considering Britain has disappointed and frustrated the European Union itself
The charity Help Refugees said: “What a great idea. People are donating the Brexit 50p coins they find to groups upholding the UK’s tradition of welcome and sanctuary.”
Fellow campaigners, Refugees at Home, a charity which works with kind-hearted individuals able to assist asylum seekers and refugees in need of safe accommodation, expressed their support of the idea by opening a fundraising page for those who wish to make donations digitally.
Three million of the coins are to be in circulation as of Friday with a further seven million joining them in time.
Chancellor and Master of the Mint, Sajid Javid, said: “Leaving the European Union is a turning point in our history and this coin marks the beginning of this new chapter.”
However, critics such as Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council said: “We can’t have peace, prosperity and friendship in world only. We need action.”
By exercising the right to donate the coin to refugee charities and organisations, many see this as a way they can do some good in a time when it feels difficult to make a difference
Zazai expressed gratitude for the call on social media to donate the 50p coins to the Council and other refugee charities.
The sentiment itself is pleasant but ironic, considering Britain has disappointed and frustrated the European Union itself as well as its European allies throughout the process of Brexit. ‘Friendship with all nations’ is barely applicable when the UK is cutting ties with 27 EU member states.
The Conservative Government’s most recent attack on refugee rights has been targeted at lone and asylum-seeking children, refusing to reunite them with their families in the UK. It continues to lose the vote in the House of Lords with peers supporting the original Dubs amendment that seeks to protect the rights of lone refugee children in the UK. Despite the Lords’ vote, the Government is likely to win this to-and-fro battle due to its large majority.
By exercising the right to donate the coin to refugee charities and organisations, many see this as a way they can do some good in a time when it feels difficult to make a difference.
Indeed, if refugee charities see a spike in donations it can only be a very welcome thing. It would send a clear message to our politicians that despite their willingness to turn their backs on those who need it, many Britons still practice the values of acceptance and kindness even if their Government does not.