'Brexit is like Boris Johnson’s hair'— the ultimate guide to Brexit through creative analogies

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Boris Johnson, UK's new prime minister. Photo: Henry Nicholls/WPA Pool/Getty

On Tuesday, prime minister Boris Johnson compared Brexit to the 1969 moon landings, suggesting that the technological feats of the historic Apollo 11 mission demonstrated that the problem of frictionless trade at the border in Northern Ireland could be solved.

In December, Hugo Rifkind told us to imagine that 52% of the UK had voted for the government to build a submarine out of cheese.

Johnson and Rifkind are far from the only people to make potted Brexit comparisons.

More than three years after the 2016 referendum, we’ve been graced with dozens of inventive analogies — with politicians, experts and newspaper columnists trying hard to come up with ways to describe the folly of the fated decision.

As Johnson begins his first full day as prime minister, it’s worth looking at some of their attempts:

  • “Brexit is like Boris Johnson’s hair — he’s the only one who doesn’t think it’s a complete disaster.” — footballer Eric Cantona

  • “Brexit is like a soap opera in different chapters and it never finishes” — Angel Gurria, secretary general of the OECD

  • “A no-deal Brexit is like jumping off a cliff without a parachute” — former World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy

  • “Brexit is like a Rubik’s cube — you have 23 minutes to finish and we are at minute 22 and the colours are not there yet and we are still trying to fix it.” — Lamy

  • “Brexit is like taking an egg out of an omelette.” — Lamy

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  • “Brexit is like an Uber that is three years late, with a new untrustworthy driver” — Irish comedian Eleanor Tiernan

  • “Preparing for a no-deal Brexit is like driving towards a wall at 100mph and preparing for it by fastening your seatbelt” — Paul Drechsler, chairman of London First and deputy president of the Confederation of British Industry

  • “A no-deal Brexit is like redecorating your house — it gets an awful lot worse before it gets better.” — former P&O Ferries boss Robert Hardy

  • “Brexit is like a parody version of student politics” — Ken Clarke, former chancellor

  • “Brexit is like toothpaste: You just get it out of the tube, but it's very difficult to get back in again” — Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn

  • “Brexit is like a revolution that's now eating its children” — George Freeman, former minister for life sciences

  • “Brexit is like a brutal breakup in a romcom — except it’s not even funny” — Guardian columnist Zoe Williams

  • “Brexit is like a ride in Disneyland: every bout of soaring optimism is followed by a vertiginous plummet into despair” — journalist Fintan O’Toole

  • “Brexit is like a black hole, sucking in energy, light and matter” — Ian Dunt, editor of Politics.co.uk

  • “Brexit is like preparing a move of your business to Narnia” — Martin McTague of the Federation for Small Business

  • “Brexit is like Shrek: messy, complicated and bad-tempered” — Anand Menon, director of think-tank the UK in a Changing Europe

  • “Brexit is like what teenagers do when they self harm” — sculptor Anish Kapoor

  • “Brexit is like a Homer Simpson nightmare” — former SDLP leader Mark Durkan

  • “Brexit is a bit like waiting for Godot” — Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel

  • “Brexit is a bit like a screaming child” — Matt Bevington, researcher at UK in a Changing Europe

  • “Brexit is like dumping your girlfriend because she’s expensive and high maintenance and then realizing she’s pretty hot” — Ali Sadjady, Change UK candidate.