Opinion: Sadiq Khan’s EU-themed fireworks display was distasteful

London Eye NYE

The London Eye illuminated as the EU flag. Image: PA

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

talkRADIO’s associate digital editor Samantha King responds to the Mayor of London’s decision to make the city’s flagship New Year’s Eve fireworks display EU-themed. These are her views and not talkRADIO’s.

New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection, forgetting the words to Auld Lang Syne and indulging in a glass of something bubbly as the clock strikes midnight.

New Year’s Eve is not the time to push a political agenda.

I am, of course, referring to this year’s flagship New Year’s Eve fireworks display in London, which featured the London Eye illuminated as the EU flag and an 11-minute soundtrack featuring songs such as We Are Your Friends, Stay and Don't Leave Me Alone.


'A pro-Europe message'

The blatant anti-Brexit display was a taxpayer-funded one, costing the public £2.3 million, with the overall cost of the display estimated to be around £3.5 million.

When Sadiq Khan announced the display would be EU-themed, he claimed it would be a part of the city’s London Is Open campaign, which promotes diversity and unity in the capital. It would appear diversity of opinion is not included.

Fifty-two per cent of the UK voted to leave in the EU referendum, including some Londoners. By airing his pro-EU views on such a massive scale, Khan very publicly snubbed the views of people and communities who had a differing opinion to his. This celebration was not for them.

Perhaps most concerning is the potential implications of Khan’s rogue political display on our future relationship with Europe.

Throughout the turbulent Brexit negotiations, the EU 27 have criticised the UK for not being united.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, recently told a German newspaper that the United Kingdom needed to “get your act together”.

With the Prime Minister pushing for Brexit and London’s Mayor pushing back, we certainly don’t look like a country with our act together from the outside looking in.

With Brexit day fast approaching, the fireworks display should have been a precious moment to forget a turbulent year in politics. Better luck next year…