Revisiting Munira Mirza's Take on Brexit

by SHOWstudio on 4 February 2022

Following the news of the mass exodus of the Prime Minister's closest aides, we look back on a panel discussion we hosted on Brexit featuring Boris Johnson's ex-head of policy Munira Mirza.

Following the news of the mass exodus of the Prime Minister's closest aides, we look back on a panel discussion we hosted on Brexit featuring Boris Johnson's ex-head of policy Munira Mirza.

The past 24 hours have proved to be none other than a total whirlwind in Government. Although the heat has been rising for some time in Downing Street amid the party gate scandal, the latest news that four senior aides have resigned - with Munira Mirza first to hand in her resignation - don't point towards the brightest of futures in parliament for Boris Johnson nor currently anyone else nestled in Downing Street. But firstly, who is the controversial Munira Mirza, and why is everyone balling over at her sudden letter of resignation?

Working for Johnson for just shy of 15 years, Mirza has been referred to as 'Boris' brain' many times over. Born in 1978 to parents who had come to the UK from Pakistan, Ms Mirza went to a comprehensive school before studying English at Oxford University. Initially hired by Policy Exchange, the modernising Tory think tank, Mirza worked her way up to Downing Street, beginning as an adviser in the arts, before becoming deputy mayor of education and culture. So far, so good. Yet her assertive climb to the top hasn't been without its setbacks. Always quick to defend Johnson, in 2018, accusations of Islamophobia hurried in after Mr Johnson said Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letter boxes". How did Mirza react? Well, by penning a questionable article in support of Johnson's comment, contesting the idea that challenges faced by black and minority ethnic people in the UK result from structural racism. Interesting.

Controversy always seemed to follow Mirza from closely behind, something our audience witnessed in 2017 when she featured on our Brexit: The Impact on the Fashion Industry panel discussion chaired by Lou Stoppard. Despite every panellist in agreement about the uncertainty the fashion industry faced, Mirza, standing as a mirror for parliament's lacklustre attitude towards the creative industries, seemingly overlooked the fear and worry expressed that day, instead noting that the government does care, deeply. 'I think there are similarities (between government and fashion), even though ministers may not have a special knowledge of the fashion industry, they understand extremely well from what I have experienced how international so many supply chains are.' In the same heated debate, Mirza also took the opportunity to defend Brexiteers by stating a need to want out of the EU has nothing to do with xenophobia. 'Sometimes what happens in the creative industries, in the echo chamber that we are in, is that a lot of people very quickly reduce reasons for leaving to being about xenophobia and retreating from the world. About an estimated 1m people from ethnic minority backgrounds voted to leave the EU. From their perspective, the EU is not the be-all and end-all of internationalism.'

Choosing to resign over Jonson's horrific blaming of Keir Starmer regarding Jimmy Saville, the resounding tone of Mirza's letter offers food for thought concerning Johnson's future as PM.

'Even now, I hope you find it in yourself to apologise for a grave error of judgement made under huge pressure. I appreciate that our political culture is not forgiving when people say sorry, but regardless, it is the right thing to do. It is not too late for you but, I'm sorry to say, it is too late for me.

Yours sincerely,


Panel Discussion: 'Brexit: The Impact on the Fashion Industry', SHOWstudio, 2017.



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