Memorabilia from decades of the debate about Britain’s relationship with Europe will include everything from newspaper cartoons and pro-Brexit condoms to Weatherspoon’s beer mats and one of Nigel Farage’s old suits.
Three locations in ten top Leave-voting areas have been identified as possible sites for the museum, with organisers aiming to model it on the concept of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, Manchester.
Efforts to create a permanent record of the struggle have been on hold for the last wo years during the Brexit battle.
PLEA TO READERS: The front page of the Daily Mail the day before the referendum, Wednesday, June 22. ‘If you believe in Britain vote Leave’
SHOWING HER COLOURS: Margaret Thatcher in her famous flags jumper in 1975, when she backed Remain in the first EU referendum provided a ‘Stay In’ vote
But following the UK’s departure from the European Union in January, organisers are now looking ahead to make the most of items gathered at various collection points across the country.
Gawain Towler, a former Brexit Party spokesman, said: ‘Things have been quiet, partially because we still had to fight for Brexit, and then we’ve had Covid.
‘But as the country starts to wake up and it looks like we are finally approaching the exit door of the 40-year failed experiment, we are in a better position to look to the future without forgetting the past.’
He added that the project ‘exists to remember the little people in pub meetings up and down the country who kept the flame of independence and sovereignty alive during the dark years’.
Senior political figures backing the project include Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor Nigel Lawson and the former Foreign Secretary David Owen.
Donors to the 2016 Leave campaign have been lined up to helpfund the project, is expected to cost in the hundreds of thousands. Organisers will also take contributions from the public but will not accept government funding.
STAR EXHIBITS: Referendum mugs
STAR EXHIBITS: The Wetherspoon manifesto printed on a coaster
Coveted items that organisers would love to get hold of include Margaret Thatcher’s infamous 1975 pro-European ‘flag’ jumper and the pen used to sign the 1957 Treaty of Rome.
The collection aims to be a hub for visitors and academics, showcasing exhibits for the public and housing documents as an archive. It hopes to store the papers of key figures in the Eurosceptic movements such as the ‘whipless wonders’ who fought against the Maastricht Treaty in the early 1990s.
The Museum will focus on three key areas: the 2016 referendum, the post-war relationship between Britain and Europe and the broader context for issues such as the history of free trade and Magna Carta.
TAKING BACK CONTROL: Condoms in packs featuring Leave slogans
Organisers were partly inspired to create it to counter the official narrative of European history at EU backed projects such as the House of European History in Brussels.
Described as a ‘palace to European vanity’, it cost EU taxpayers £136 million and was criticised for failing to deliver an objective account of the European Union.