Commemorative coins head for Brexit meltdown after latest delay
Posted October 29, 2019 10:13 a.m. EDT
CNN — A commemorative coin produced to celebrate the UK's planned October 31 departure from the European Union is the latest high-profile government initiative to fall victim to yet another Brexit delay.
Britain's finance ministry confirmed Tuesday that unreleased 50 pence pieces (worth about 63 cents) bearing the inscription "peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" and the date October 31, 2019, will be "recycled" after the EU exit deadline was delayed to January 31, 2020.
According to the Royal Mint's website, recycled coins are shredded and melted in large furnaces before being solidified for future use.
Weighing eight grams with a standard diameter of 27.3 millimeters, the special coins were first proposed by former Chancellor Philip Hammond, who planned a limited edition of around 10,000 coins that would be sold to collectors, according to the UK's PA news agency.
This month, British newspaper The Telegraph reported that 3 million coins bearing the date would be minted by the end of October, and a further 7 million were slated for production, as ordered by Treasury chief Sajid Javid.
Even as the coins inscribed with the wrong Brexit date currently make their way to the furnace, officials say the Brexit coin will live to see another day.
"We will still produce a coin to mark our departure from the European Union," a Treasury spokesman said.
The spokesman added that the cost of designing and producing the coins was met by the Royal Mint out of its own revenues and "at no cost to the taxpayer." But he would not comment on the cost of producing the coins, citing "commercially sensitive information."
'Dead in a ditch'
The coin is just one of a number of Brexit initiatives that have had to be rolled back this week after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially accepted the EU's offer of an extension -- after saying previously he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than ask for one.
The UK Cabinet Office also confirmed to CNN Tuesday that it has paused its "Get Ready For Brexit" advertising campaign.
Reported to cost £100 million ($129 million), the campaign was designed to raise awareness on the necessary preparations for businesses and individuals in the event of a Brexit deal or a no-deal Brexit.
Another initiative, known as "Operation Brock," was stood down, the UK Department for Transport said on Tuesday.
The program was designed to keep portions of the M20 motorway open only to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in the event of disruption to services across the English Channel in the event of a disorderly break with Europe.
The UK government also confirmed Tuesday that its no-deal Brexit contingency plan, known as "Operation Yellowhammer," has also been suspended.
In September, the government released the Yellowhammer planning document, which warned of medicine shortages, severe delays at the Dover-Calais crossing and an increase in food prices.
Downing Street, however, added on Tuesday that "preparations for a no-deal Brexit continue."