After months of Brexit discussions, I am tired. My tolerance for political chit-chat has been ground down, and it’s hard to muster the energy to engage with post-Brexit trade tariffs, let alone do anything about them. What is essentially a disastrous vote to allow the slow, intricate change of trade laws from the 1970s, has now become the top news story for about a year and a half, and my God, do I wish we could go back to celebs dying or an octopus correctly predicting the World Cup.
While even the best of us have succumbed to political apathy over Brexit, a restaurant in East London is refusing to give in so lightly. Pizzeria Apollo, a Neapolitan-style pizzeria in Stoke Newington, is offering a 25 percent discount to anyone who writes a letter to their MP, asking for a second referendum.
“We just thought, 'Why not?'” Matt Kenny, co-owner of the restaurant, tells me over the phone. “If it results in people writing to their MPs, then that's great. That's really the point and we're more than happy to give 25 percent off a pizza.”
The restaurant, situated in Diane Abbott's Labour constituency, opened in 2015 after Matt and brother Ollie became tired of travelling miles to get decent, wood-fired pizza in London.
“We opened four years ago, before there was quite as much pizza as there was now,” laughs Matt. “There weren't like a million Franco Mancas everywhere.”
While the brothers have clearly found their calling in bringing decent pizza to the people of Stoke Newington (a goal that has certainly been achieved: there are four wood-fired pizzerias in the area now, including a Franco Manca right next to Apollo), they are now turning their attention to something more time-sensitive: the cluster fuck that is Brexit.
“As a business, we have been waiting a very long time for some kind of clarity on Brexit, because the prices of ingredients are going to go up, which means the prices on the menu are going to go up,” explains Matt. “Half our staff are British and local from London, and the other half are from Italy. It's fucked at the moment, right? Totally fucked. And it's potentially going to get worse for business, so we thought: ‘Fuck it,’ this is what we think should happen.”
So this week, they introduced the offer, hoping to fight against the terrifying prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
“I mean, Brexit is just trade regulations, right?” says Matt. “I know there's a sort nationalistic thing, a lot of flag-waving, but it's just trade regs, you know? And they're all about to get thrown out of the window. So now, a People’s Vote would be great. Anything that the Labour party suggests would be good.”
He pauses. “Nothing Theresa May says is relevant to Pizza Apollo.” Take that, Prime Minister.
Never one to turn down a opportunity for left-wing politics and discounted food, I pen a real letter to my MP, Harriet Harman, before visiting Pizzaria Apollo for lunch. Each table is adorned with small, brown leaflets with the words “BREXIT SCHMEXIT / 25 PERCENT OFF PIZZA” as well as cards for people to leave feedback on. Ollie hands me one someone filled out last night. In pencil, it reads: “It has incentivised me to write a letter I was planning on writing for a while.” That's...something?
But not all responses are guaranteed to be as positive. At a time when Remain MPs like Anna Souby have faced verbal harassment from Leave campaigners outside Parliament, I wonder what kind of reaction Apollo has received.
“I wasn't really expecting to get this much interest to be honest, but it's kind of good that we have,” says Matt. “Yesterday, we were a bit worried about Brexiteers making a real fuss about it.”
“It only started yesterday, I don't know if anyone is going to bother to write,” he continues. “We'll see.”
Maybe a slice of cheap sage and speck pizza is all this country needs to prevent the worst political decision of all time