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Film / Brexit The Uncivil War

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A 2019 drama by James Graham, focusing on the role of Dominic Cummings, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, in the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.


Brexit: The Uncivil War features examples of

  • Aside Glance: After the Leave vote wins, Cummings glances directly into the camera.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: How the Leave side wins, constantly making outlandish claims and then moving on while the Stay side spins its wheels proving them wrong.
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  • Blatant Lies: Most notably the infamous "£350m a week" written on the side of the big red bus, as well as claiming that Turkey would be joining the EU.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Cummings begins the film looking and speaking directly to the audience.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Cummings is prone to scribbling his notes on walls and locking himself in a closet to sit on a cardboard box when working.
  • Canada, Eh?: People assume that the AggregateIQ CEO is American, but he objects and says he's Canadian. The company is, indeed, based in British Columbia.
  • The Ditz: Leave spokesmen Michael Gove and Boris Johnson are portrayed as comically stupid. In a press interview, Gove stammers his way through responses to basic questions until Johnson provides a distraction. For his own part, Johnson can't help but start blabbing about all the inaccuracies in his campaign's statements about Turkey when caught off guard.
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  • End of an Age: Oliver tells Cummings that he's unleashed a new era in the way political campaigns are run, which he sees as for the worse.
  • Flyover Country: A key part of Cummings' strategy is targeting Britain's equivalent of flyover country, the poorest working-class neighborhoods that are all but ignored by other political campaigns. The Leave leaders personally visit the dying village of Jaywick to interview the locals.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: Craig Oliver complains that the television studios are giving Leave's rambling nobodies equal footing with Remain's esteemed professionals.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Some on the Leave side have this reaction when their victory becomes clear.
  • Lack of Empathy: On the eve of the vote things in the Remain focus group heat up, with an elderly woman supporting Leave attempting to explain her troubles and reasons for supporting the issue, only for a glued-to-her-phone Millennial sitting beside her to dismiss her concerns by callously declaring that she'd "already lived [her] life" and, thus, should have little to say on the matter. Cue a complete emotional breakdown by the elderly woman as she elaborates on her grievances, and a realization from the Remain coordinators that they're very possibly in serious trouble.
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  • The Man Behind the Man: Robert Mercer is noted to have provided substantial contributions to the Leave vote as well as to the election of Donald Trump in the U.S.
  • Never My Fault: Cummings washes his hands of the colossal mess that Brexit has become after spearheading its passage.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Discussed. Cummings notes how people have a rose-colored impression of how things used to be, so he paints the narrative of leaving the EU not as a new change, but as a return to the way things used to be. This is fully realized when he changes the slogan from "take control" to "take back control."
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Leave campaign.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the first scenes features Matthew Elliot quoting "Avengers, assemble!" Douglas Carswell admits that he doesn't get the reference.
    • Craig Oliver disputes the reputation of Dominick Cummings as a brilliant sage, saying "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty... fucking asshole."
  • Villain Protagonist: The film is written by a left-wing Europhile, centering on the actions of right-wing Eurosceptics.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: A lot of the drama is between Vote Leave and Leave.EU for primacy as the official campaign in the referendum. On the Remain side, the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are rather reluctant to work together.
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