As the United Kingdom exits the European Union, a new ad campaign by French crypto hardware wallet firm Ledger is reviving one of the most divisive pro-Brexit slogans, “Take Back Control,” to ambiguous effect.
An email shared with Cointelegraph on Jan. 30 revealed Ledger’s mock-up of a planned billboard for an installation in London’s Canary Wharf, one of the capital’s prime financial districts.
Ledger’s plans for a digital billboard in London’s Canary Wharf. Shared with Cointelegraph via email
The billboard reads ”Let’s Take Back Control For Real” — a modified version of the 2016 pro-Brexit campaign’s notorious “Take Back Control” slogan, which became an anti-EU rallying cry for a restoration of the nation state’s sovereign control over its policies, borders, and economic policy.
As Ledger presents its campaign, the phrase “take back control for real” implies that the “individual can be empowered with complete financial freedom, where borders are bridged and you are fully in charge of your own funds in a network that everyone can join.”
Yet the original tagline has a particular, charged history in the context of the U.K. referendum and Brexit vote. At the time, it was viewed as a call for the sovereign state's increased intervention in restricting immigration into the country.
U.K. politician and Brexit Party founder Nigel Farage mobilized the slogan for a racialized anti-immigration agenda during the 2016 campaign, as with his notorious "Breaking Point" poster, portraying a deluge of migrants and the tagline "We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders."
Nigel Farage photographed in front of Leave EU’s “Breaking Point” poster. Source: New Statesman archive via Google Images.
The photograph for the poster depicted migrants crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border in 2015, a scene of mostly young males of color. It was later reported to the police on the grounds that it incited racial hatred and breached U.K. race laws.
Cointelegraph reached out to Ledger to clarify its use of the polarizing slogan. In response, a representative for the firm wrote that:
“Regardless of one's political stance, the campaign itself is quite powerful and well-executed. We particularly like its slogan - though we saw how crypto really [gives] control back to the people.”
Ledger also argued that there are “quite a few similar themes” between Brexit and Crypto, although it conceded areas in which they are “at times opposing each other”:
“For example, crypto is all about borderless financial freedom, whereas the Brexit focuses on closing its borders with financial freedom from the EU in mind.”
As to the future of a post-Brexit U.K., Amandine Doat, associate general counsel and head of public policy at Ledger said, “We should hope for convergence and not fragmentation with the U.K. leaving the EU. Alignment of regulation between EU and the U.K. even after the U.K. leaves is crucial to the development of strong Europe presence at global level.”
In contrast to these hopes, yesterday, the eve of Brexit day, Prime Minister Johnson clarified to the public that:
“The manifesto on which the government was elected was very clear that there will be no alignment. We have always been very clear that we are leaving the EU’s customs union and single market and that means that businesses will have to prepare for life outside of these.”