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A Brexit delay could leave 10 million commemorative coins spinning

A one pound coin lies on a Union Flag in Loughborough, Britain May 3, 2017.
REUTERS/Darren Staples
Patriotic metal.
By Adam Rasmi
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The UK’s Treasury plans to commemorate Brexit by minting millions of 50 pence ($0.61) coins. But like many of the Conservative government’s recent moves, there is a major flaw: the imprint date will be the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, even though the chance of departing the EU then—or possibly at all—has shrunk considerably.

The government told The Telegraph that three million coins will be ready by the end of this month, with an additional seven million to follow early next year. The new 50p coins, approved yesterday (pdf) by the Queen, will be inscribed: “Friendship with all nations.”

Former finance minister Philip Hammond announced plans for the new 50p coin in October last year, each a collector’s item costing £10 and with 10,000 in circulation. The decision to expand circulation by such a quantity appears yet another sign of prime minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to an Oct. 31 Brexit.

News about the millions of new 50p coins comes days after Royal Mint, which makes and distributes coins in the UK, responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The government-owned company said a trial batch of about 1,000 coins has been manufactured so far, but that none have been minted.

Though the Brexit date is currently set for Oct. 31, Johnson is required by law to request a delay until Jan. 31 if he cannot secure a new divorce agreement at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18. A majority of British MPs are opposed to a departure from the EU without such a deal in place.

The new coin had been scheduled for the original Brexit date of March 31, before the departure was delayed repeatedly. Back in 1973, a variant of the 50p coin—worth more than £6 today when adjusting for inflation—marked the UK becoming a member of the European Economic Community, a precursor to the EU.

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