A pair of parody banknotes have been added to the British Museum’s collection of fake currency – or “skit notes” – for their historical significance, expressing anti-Brexit sentiments and distrust in Britain’s government elites. The notes, produced by the group Bath for Europe, feature the faces of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the prime minister (though it still feels horribly wrong to see it written down) Boris Johnson.
The Johnson note – styled as a £10 – reads: “I promise not to pay the NHS the sum of £350m pounds.” The Rees-Mogg one – an aptly archaic £50 guinea – says, “I promise to pay myself more than you,” and also bears the fake Latin slogan: “Arrogantus Toffo Posterium.”
Tom Hockenhull, the museum’s curator of modern money, speaks to The Guardian about the significance of the notes and why he included them in the collection. “We collect things because they represent economic, social and political history, and so we want these in the collection,” he says.
“There’s a long tradition of making parody bank notes for the purposes of spreading a political message or advertising a particular viewpoint, and these fit into that genre.”
The idea of the anti-Brexit notes, says Dick Daniel, a founder of Bath for Europe, was to “play on the promises they made, the distortions and lies of the Brexit campaign, and to make something very visual”. Up to 5000 have now been printed and handed out at rallies, and the images are available for download from the group’s site.