'We voted Remain in Liverpool, so why shouldn’t we have the European flag flying.'
As the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 gets underway in Liverpool today, there’s a plot being hatched by Remainers to hijack the contest and turn it into an ‘anti-Brexit propaganda coup.’ At least that’s what the Daily Mail would have us believe.
‘Remainers plot to hijack the Eurovision Song Contest final by handing out tens of thousands of EU flags for the audience to wave in a bid to turn event into ‘anti-Brexit propaganda coup’ was the headline in the pro-Leave newspaper this week.
The article, which could easily be mistaken for a spoof, reports that the pro-EU Liverpool for Europe group has secured 75,000 EU flags for the final, which will be aired live by the BBC and TV channels across the world. It says that the organisation hopes to mirror the scenes at the Last Night of the Proms event at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2021.
The report quotes an activist, who confirmed the protest is being coordinated with the Liverpool for Europe group and several other organisations. ‘We’ve been urging people to wave EU flags outside the arena at the semi-final events, but on Saturday, when the audience will be at its biggest, we are going to get as many flags inside as possible,” the activist told the Mail.
Adopting a more hostile tone, the article goes on to refer to ‘hard-left campaigners,’ who are apparently planning to ‘continue anti-Israel protests outside and inside the Liverpool Arena venue.’
Needless to say, the story wasn’t short of ridicule online.
“They are getting ever more desperate,” wrote one bemused reader.
“The Daily Heil love a good moan about Remainers, don’t they have something more significant to write about like the truth,” asked another.
Liverpool had voted to remain in the EU by a majority of 58.1 percent in the 2016 referendum. At the time of the vote, Paul Brant, a senior Liverpool councillor, had told the Liverpool Echo that he was proud of Liverpool’s emphatic vote to remain. “This international port City has always been outward looking and was built on trade. The sectarian approach of right-wing UKIP has been rejected here.”
In response to the Mail’s ‘Remainers plan to hijack the Eurovision Song Contest’ story, one reader alluded to the fact that Liverpool is a staunchly pro-EU city:
“We voted Remain in Liverpool, so why shouldn’t we have the European flag flying,” they said.
Another reader was puzzled about how the report managed to describe people who are trying to support oppressed Palestinians as ‘hard left.’
Predictably, the pro-Brexit tabloid The Express ran with the same story. Their report claims that Eurovision 2023 is ‘set to be disrupted this weekend by anti-Brexit campaigners who want to put a stop to the competition.’
With the Mail and the Express failing to provide any real information about the protests and what has been going on in Liverpool this week, Left Foot Forward spoke to Peter Benson, from Liverpool for Europe and Thank EU for the Music, a group that campaigns for music without borders and to highlight the impact Brexit and the loss of freedom of movement has had on musicians.
Benson described the day they had handed out flags and stickers in Liverpool as incredible, saying the enthusiasm and support for their message was phenomenal. People were queuing up to get flags, running after them and taking selfies with the campaigners. One police officer even stuck a pro-EU badge on his arm. “The support from the community was mind-blowing,” said Benson.
As for the Daily Mail and Express’s report of the protests, Benson said he had never read such ‘lies and slander.’
“These newspapers write a story to fit their own agenda and forget about the facts,” he told LFF.
A far cry from the image of ‘hijackers’ determined to turn the Eurovision into an ‘anti-Brexit propaganda coup,’ the pro-Europe campaigners are celebrating the Eurovision and sending out a positive message that music unites us and should have no borders.
“I think our message of support for musicians everywhere in Europe was made very visible,” said Peter Benson.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
Image credit: Peter Benson, Liverpool for Europe
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