Actor Sir Patrick Stewart is a prominent figure in The People's Vote, an anti-Brexit organization. Stewart has said that the campaign is "simply requesting that we have another chance to consider what the terms of this divorce are going to be," regarding Brexit, and has also gone so far as to claim two of his most famous characters, Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier, would have voted for Britain to remain in the European Union.
These facts were brought up to UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a Brexit supporter, when he visited The Andrew Marr Show this past Sunday, April 15th.
Johnson tried to reference a beloved piece of fan culture to make his pro-Brexit point.
Though he acknowledged splitting from the EU would not be easy, Johnson evoked Picard's line from the opening credits of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "...to boldly go where no man has gone before."
Whatever nerd-points the Secretary won with this reference, however, where quickly dashed by his next question:
Patrick Stewart, he had something to do with Star Wars didn't he?
No, Mr. Johnson, he did not.Giphy
Not only did Johnson misattribute the line, he also misused it.
In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard and his crew of adventurers and scientists journey to strange new places in the universe, but the theme of the series, and of the line, isn't that one should journey out on one's own into bold new terrains, forsaking all others in search of personal fulfillment. In fact, the full line Johnson quoted reads:
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It's continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations...to boldly go where no one has gone before.
As the full line suggests, Picard was far more interested in contacting and establishing friendly relationships with other governments than he was with blasting into the new frontier alone. In Star Trek, Earth is part of The United Federation of Planets, an intergalactic European Union of sorts, of which Picard was a deeply devoted officer.
And even if the quote made thematic sense, it doesn't make logistical sense.
I know that's a strange phrase, but bear with me: Boris Johnson is suggesting Britain splitting from the European Union is like the Enterprise boldly going where no man has gone before. Except Brain HAS gone there before. In fact, for most of England's existence, the EU wasn't yet formed.
Perhaps Johnson was speaking of the actual act of leaving the EU, which, to be fair, no country has ever attempted. If that is the case, however, some of the line's grandeur seems a little forced. There may be positives on the other side of a break-up, but very few people think of the break-up itself as a grand adventure.
Before trying to make another pop culture reference, Mr. Johnson would do well to remember another classic Star Wars quote:
Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.