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Is it even remotely possible Eurovision caused Brexit?

WHETHER you love it or loathe it, The Eurovision Song Contest is just around the corner again. The 62nd instalment of the competition is taking place in Kiev this year following Ukraine’s victory in Sweden the previous year

Winning it 5 times , coming 2nd 15 times and finishing 3rd 3 times, the United Kingdom, like its relationship with Europe in general has had a mixed time with Eurovision. Those 5 wins have been offset somewhat by 3 last place finishes.

Britain has entered Eurovision every year since 1959 and, because of the money that they put into the spectacle, make it to the grand final every year. However since the UK victory in 1997, the country has been on a barren spell for the past two decades seeing some of its worst results in this time.

So a simple question can be asked.

Did Eurovision cause Brexit?

This was the question put to John Kennedy O’Connor. The man who wrote the book ‘The “Eurovision Song Contest”: The Official History’. Could it possibly be that the rest of Europe’s reaction to the performances of Jemini, Bonnie Tyler and Josh Dubovie ended up with the triggering of Article 50?

“I’m not saying that anyone was in the voting booth and said ‘Those bastards at Eurovision! I’m gonna pay them back!’ but I think it played into the psyche.” O’Connor says “I predicted last year before the Brexit referendum that if Britain got yet another kicking in Eurovision that the British people would subliminally, or maybe overtly, would turn around and say ‘see, everybody hates us!’ and I think it played a part in Brexit.”

If the 2016 entry to Eurovision was the do-or-die entry for Britain’s membership of the European Union then this is when it died. The kicking that John O’Connor was worried about was duly handed out to the UK and their entry, Joe and Jake’s song, “You’re Not Alone”. The song finished 3rd from bottom with only 62 points. Could it be that the UK’s poor run of Eurovision form elicited a backlash from the Great British public at the ballot box on June 23rd?

“I think Eurovision has had a very detrimental effect on the way that the British see Europe and their relationship with Europe. I don’t think anyone would admit that but I think it has played a role subliminally in the British attitude towards Europe.”

“They just think they lose because everybody hates us and we are the pariahs of Europe. It is completely untrue.”

“When we were in Sweden last year everyone was saying ‘please don’t leave the EU, please don’t leave the EU’ so this idea that everybody hates the British is a British thing. It doesn’t exist. It comes from people like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.”

The British being hated on the continent is a myth according to O’Connor. When it comes to Britain’s poor results, it is down to something much simpler, not living up to high expectations.

“They just think they lose because everybody hates us and we are the pariahs of Europe. It is completely untrue.”

“The British as a nation are supremely arrogant when it comes to pop music.” he explains “With good reason. British pop music, after American, dominates the world, and it always has. I think for the first decade or so of Eurovision the British couldn’t understand why they didn’t win every year.”

“I do believe when It comes to Eurovision the British have to try harder than anyone else. The British do have such a reputation when it comes to pop music. This is the country that created the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Blur, Oasis, Dusty Springfield, you name it.”

“It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anybody, that likes the contest or follows the contest, that the British entries are shit.”

This mix of not living up to expectations and sending subpar entries has led to the rut that UK finds itself in. While acts like Loreen and Mans Zelmerlow from Sweden have taken the competition by storm, the UK entries, even the ones that didn’t finish last, have sent the competition to sleep.

“The reason the UK entries are doing so badly is because they are very poor but I don’t think this has occurred to anybody.” O’Connor continues “I saw an interview a few years ago when Engelbert Humperdinck had come, I think, last (He came 25th out of 26th) and everybody was saying ‘Oh how could they do this!? He’s such an amazing singer!’”

“I’m thinking ‘Did you watch the show? Did you see who won? and then you see this 76-year-old, decrepit old man staggering around the stage and you can’t grasp why you didn’t win?’”

“But the reason we didn’t win must be because everyone hates us.”

“And you send Bonnie Tyler. One of the worst things I’ve seen. I think that is the worst performance by a British artist in the history of Eurovision. Gemini were better than her. And yet the next day everyone going ‘Poor Bonnie, everyone hates us’

“No, everyone hates what you’re doing.”

“I had a very unpleasant confrontation with the BBC a few years ago. After Electro-Velvet came, virtually, last I saw the person that runs the UK entry who was in floods of tears.

“At first I was sympathetic but then said ‘What did you expect?’ and she said ‘we put in so much effort this year.’ To which I said ‘you’ve gotta be friggin’ kidding me. What effort is there in choosing a primary school teacher?’ the reply was ‘Did you not see the video?’

“What the hell has the video got to do with the Eurovision song contest?”

“But she didn’t get it. She had no idea why I wasn’t saying ‘you poor thing you were robbed’”

It becomes clear that, to John Kennedy O’Connor, a lack of knowledge about how to compete at eurovision and a feeling of persecution as a result of the poor showings at the main event could have possibly contributed towards Britons feeling shunned by their european counterparts.

However for O’Connor, the vote to leave the EU was maybe down to simpler, in more ways than one, reasons

“I remember watching Question Time and a woman said ‘I voted Brexit because I was fed up of having straight bananas’ and I thought if you are that stupid then why not say ‘I voted Brexit because we should have won Eurovision’?”

“People voted for the most ridiculous reasons. Nobody corrected her, nobody said that story was just made up by the Daily Mail”

“These people probably think we’ve pulled out of Eurovision. They’ll be shocked we’re still in it.”

Britain will be competing again at Eurovision this year with Lucie Jones performing “Never Give Up On You”. In 2016 the tagline for the competition was ‘Come Together”. Rather ironic that it preceded the UK deciding it had had enough of being part of the EU. This year it’s “Celebrating Diversity”,it remains to be seen if the UK will show some divergence from the past 20 years and put out a decent act that will get some much needed love from our continental neighbours.