The Guardian

Led By Donkeys: ‘There is a political power in laughing at these people’

On billboards, beaches, buildings, and Twitter, four activist friends have wittily exposed the hypocrisies of Brexit politics. As they publish a book about their campaign, they reflect on their rollercoaster year• Read an extract from Led By Donkeys’ book here
Led By Donkeys, left to right: Ben Stewart, James Sadri, Oliver Knowles and Will Rose. Photograph: Phil Fisk/The Observer

The campaigning group Led By Donkeys is always on the lookout for what it calls “thermonuclear hypocrisy” in politics, and specifically on Brexit. So when, in August, its founders belatedly came across an article that Michael Gove had written for the Daily Mail in March 2019, they felt they had hit the jackpot. In it, Gove, who is now chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster – or more prosaically, the man charged with making Brexit happen, deal or no deal – had noted: “We didn’t vote to leave without a deal. That wasn’t the message of the campaign I helped lead.”

“It was like, ‘Hang on a second: that should be the iceberg to the government’s no-deal Titanic,’” exclaims 45-year-old Ben Stewart, one of the four founders of Led By Donkeys. “The leader of the campaign, the person charged with no-deal planning has said there is no mandate for this. And now they are claiming a mandate for it. So I felt and we all felt: we need to make that quote famous.”

Led By Donkeys, which came into existence only in January, had already had considerable success, and a lot of fun, reminding politicians of words they have said, written or tweeted, and probably wished they hadn’t. The project started with blowing up tweets – from the likes of David Cameron and Leave tub-thumpers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage – and slapping them on billboards in the dead of night. But the group quickly became more ambitious and its work has appeared everywhere from a 40m x 20m banner at the People’s Vote demonstration in London in March to . Their targets are overwhelmingly on the right of the political spectrum, though Jeremy Corbyn was mocked with a that had his Twitter handle but was otherwise left blank, so that people could write on to it what they would like the Labour leader to say on the issue.

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