UK to melt down thousands of commemorative 50p coins after Brexit delay

In this photo taken on Oct 23, 2019, the EU flag and Union flag-themed umbrellas fly outside the Houses of Parliament in London. The production of millions of Brexit coins was paused last week when it became clear there would be a delay.
In this photo taken on Oct 23, 2019, the EU flag and Union flag-themed umbrellas fly outside the Houses of Parliament in London. The production of millions of Brexit coins was paused last week when it became clear there would be a delay.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG, AFP) - Thousands of 50-pence coins minted to commemorate Brexit on Oct 31 will be melted down after Prime Minister Boris Johnson accepted an extension from the European Union, two people familiar with the matter said.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid had announced plans for millions of coins engraved with the date Johnson pledged to leave the bloc, but production was paused last week when it became clear there would be a delay.

"We have paused production of the Brexit coin, and will take a final decision in due course," a Treasury ministry statement said last Friday (Oct 25).

The coins were already being minted so they could be put into circulation as soon as the UK left the EU.

On Monday, Johnson accepted the EU's offer of a three-month extension to Jan 31, and the decision was taken for all the coins to be melted down, according to the people, who asked not to be identified. One of them said hundreds of thousands of the coins had been minted already.

A spokesman for the Treasury said the UK will still produce a coin to mark its departure from the EU - whenever that takes place.

Javid's predecessor, Philip Hammond, had also planned to mint a more limited number of the 50-pence coins to mark the original Brexit date of March 29.