Annual parliamentary pancake race falls flat over Brexit bad feeling

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While the grievances of the self-styled “yellow vest” protesters outside parliament can seem varied and opaque, it is unlikely that they include pancakes. But it is pancakes – more specifically pancake racing – that has paid the price for their activities.

The annual parliamentary pancake race between MPs, peers and political journalists has been cancelled because of the level of bad feeling connected to Brexit, the charity that organises the event has said.

Rehab, which helps people with disabilities or disadvantages get into work, said the event, scheduled for 5 March, had been called off owing to the “intense level of activity around Westminster arising from the ongoing Brexit debate”.

This has centred around a small group of activists modelling themselves on the French gilets jaunes protesters, some with far-right links, who have in recent weeks barracked and abused MPs and journalists, interrupted TV interviews with chants and blocked Westminster Bridge.

Jonathan Smallman of Rehab said in a letter to MPs who previously took part in the event that it would not be appropriate to stage it “against the background of this activity and the unique debate taking place this year”.

He said: “The decision to cancel the 2019 race has not been taken lightly and I want to take this opportunity to thank those members of the House of Commons who have already committed themselves to supporting and highlighting the work of Rehab and Momentum Skills by agreeing to take part in this popular annual event.”

The race is expected to return in 2020.

The Labour MP Rupa Huq, who took part in the 2018 race, raised the issue in parliament on Friday, asking the Speaker, John Bercow, for advice on who to consult so the event might be able to take place. Bercow responded by saying he believed increased security measures meant it should be able to happen.

In a separate statement, Huq said the cancellation “reflects the lamentable state that our country is in”.

She said: “The toxic nature of Brexit has unleashed an atmosphere that feeds and exacerbates the worst aspects of the adversarial culture in our politics that has poisoned matters. The timing on 5 March so near exit day means potential difficulties are foreseen.”


House of Commons


The far right

European Union


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