The British Museum has acquired two anti-Brexit banknotes claiming to be from the “Bank of Brexit lies” for its permanent collection. The banknotes feature the faces of newly appointed prime minister Boris Johnson and the new leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. The Johnson design reads, “I promise not to pay the [National Health Service] the sum of £350m pounds,” while the Rees-Mogg version says, “I promise to pay myself more than you,” with the satirical Latin motto “Arrogantus Toffo Posterium” appearing underneath. The £350 Million sum alludes to Johnson’s heavily criticized claim—plastered on the side of his infamous Brexit campaign bus—“We send the EU £350m a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.” Rees-Mogg, appointed by Johnson, also favors a hard-line Brexit.
“There’s a long tradition of making parody banknotes for the purposes of spreading a political message or advertising a particular viewpoint, and these fit into that genre,” Tom Hockenhull, the British Museum’s curator of modern money, told the The Guardian.
The banknotes were created by Bath for Europe, a group campaigning to stop Britain from leaving the European Union. The group bills itself as “one of the most active local U.K. campaign organizations,” organizing monthly rallies and marches and supporting pro-EU political candidates. Dick Daniel, a founding member of the group who designed the notes, told The Guardian thousands of copies of the banknotes have been distributed at anti-Brexit rallies. Images of the bills are also available to download free of charge from the group’s website.
In creating the banknotes, Daniel said he sought to “play on the promises they made, the distortions and lies of the Brexit campaign, and to make something very visual.”
The anti-Brexit banknotes join another bit of comedic currency recently acquired by the British Museum. Earlier this year, the museum acquired Di-Faced Tenner (2004), a work by Banksy featuring a picture of Princess Diana and bearing the words “Banksy of England.”