Tuesday 30 October 2018 8:14 am

DEBATE: As we head towards a cashless society, is there any point to a commemorative Brexit coin?

Follow Callum Price


As we head towards a cashless society, is there any point to a commemorative Brexit coin?

Callum Price, events manager at the Centre for Policy Studies, says YES.

There is no doubt that we are heading towards an increasingly cashless society, but we are far away from the point at which we will no longer have use for coins at all – and the announcement that there will be a 50p coin to commemorate Brexit is a welcome drop of self-confidence.

Commemorative coins are a quintessentially British way to celebrate something, being at the same time quaint and garish, subtle and obtrusive, awkward but well-intentioned. They provide a lasting reminder of important moments in British history, such as the 2012 Olympics and the 60th anniversary of Paddington Bear.

Whatever your view of Brexit, there is no doubt that it is a historical moment worth marking. What better message than “Friendship With All Nations” to underline its positive potential and lay down a marker for the type of independent nation we want to be? In a period of political and constitutional change, a commemorative coin will remind us that, sometimes, change is just what we need.


Marc-Alexander Christ, co-founder of payments company SumUp, says NO.

Wherever you stand on Brexit, there’s no doubt the process is forcing Britain to re-evaluate its role in the global economy. The UK is at a crossroads: innovate and enter a golden age of independence, or hark back to previous eras.

Commemorative coins are all about the latter. Drenched in nostalgia, the Brexit coin will likely be obsolete by the time our grandchildren make purchases – UK Finance predicts that, by 2026, cash will account for only 21 per cent of payments.

The coin is an endangered artefact, and an odd choice to physically represent Brexit. Philip Hammond might as well release a national mix-tape cassette full of Elgar, a VHS of the 1981 Royal Wedding, or public phone boxes draped in the Union Flag.

To commemorate this pivotal moment in history, why not instead release something more befitting the UK’s strengths? Given our blossoming tech scene, perhaps a commemorative bitcoin might be more appropriate. Or “Britcoin”, if you’re feeling particularly patriotic.