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The Brexit Lexicon

December 7, 2017

Politics has always added new words and acronyms to the English language, many of them pinched from other languages.  Dictator, boycott, left-wing, fascist, federalist, quisling, quango, think-tank, commentariat, chav, cabal and Watergate are all examples of words that crop up in books or in the news. Britain’s referendum on the European Union in June 2016 has spawned a new set of words and sayings that weren’t previously in use at all or are old words given new meanings.  In the last 18 months the word Brexit has become the most used political word in Britain and probably across the European Union itself.  Here’s my lexicon of Brexit, to which I’m sure there will be new additions in the months ahead. Maybe I could create one here – a Brexicon, which in fact could have a double meaning!

Brexit – derived from Grexit, coined to describe the risk of Greece crashing out of the Euro currency during the financial crisis from 2009 onwards.  Greece is still in the Euro and new countries have joined it since the word was first used.

Brexit means Brexit – first used by Theresa May in the aftermath of the referendum and David Cameron’s resignation, as she campaigned to replace him.  Now fading from use and the rider of “and we are going to make a success of it” was ditched after the 2017 general election setback for Mrs May.

DExEU – the Department for Exiting the EU, set up by May, who appointed David Davis as its Secretary of State.  He has since lost a couple of ministers, his special adviser and top civil servant.  The department is supposed to be preparing all the paperwork and analyses for Brexit – see also Impact Assessments.

Brexiteers – the cheery, heroic, buccaneering name Brexit campaigners give themselves.  Rude opponents say Brexshitters.  A more polite word would be Brexiter.

Global Britain – the bright new future Brexiters claim lies ahead for Britain, free of the EU and able to make its own trading agreements.  Deals that will be made from the much weaker position of being outside the world’s largest trade bloc.

Jam – an example given of the export opportunities that will be open to Britain outside the EU.  Sadly, it will take a lot of jars of marmalade and lemon curd to make up for lost jobs in the automotive and aviation industries.

Remoaner – name given by Brexiters to Remain supporters who continue to point out the flaws in the arguments put forward by Leave supporters. Also known as Remainiacs.

Regrexit – the name given by Remoaners to Leave voters who now regret their vote, who are having a feeling of Bregret. Perhaps a better one would be Brexitears, which could also be the general feeling of sorrow felt by all Remain supporters.

Snowflake – a word that has blown across the Atlantic, used by right wing politicians and commentators to describe over-sensitive liberals who disagree with them. But I don’t think the hot blast of their rhetoric causes liberal arguments to melt away.

Take Back Control – one of the killer phrases deployed by Vote Leave speakers during the referendum.  Gave the (false) impression that Britain was under the heel of Brussels and couldn’t do anything to stop hordes of Johnny Foreigner from coming here to live, steal our jobs and live off benefits while being health tourists.

Make our own laws – a variant of take back control, giving impression that a majority of British laws were made by the EU, which should have come as a surprise to Leave supporting MPs who must have been wondering what all those House of Commons votes were all about.  Also duped people into thinking Britain had no say in the small number of laws that were actually made in Brussels.

Single Market – a concept barely spoken of outside the Westminster Bubble pre referendum and still hardly understood or deliberately misrepresented (straight bananas, an invention of Boris Johnson) by most commentators.  Put simply, it’s the rules of the market, from component sizes to label descriptions of thousands of products.  The same sort of things you’ll find in any street market licence or for that matter in Magna Carta, so beloved of Brexiters who’ve never read it.

Four Pillars – the fundamental pillars of the Single Market are the four freedoms of movement for goods, services, capital and people. The free movement of people is anathema to Brexiters.

Customs Union – like Single Market, hardly heard of until the last year.  Goods move inside the Customs Union without any import taxes (tariffs) whereas goods from outside, say from the USA, China and Japan have import duties slapped on them.

Norway Model – much talked about in the referendum, when Leave supporters pointed to Norway, a prosperous country that is in the Single Market but not in the EU.  Now denied by Brexiters, who want to leave the Single Market as part of the Brexit means Brexit mantra.

Experts – a much derided group of people who gave warnings (dismissed as scaremongering) about the risks of Brexit.  Michael Gove, a minister once in charge of England’s schools, who fancies himself as an intellectual, famously said that the nation was tired of experts.

Tricky economicy words – used by Gove to describe difficulties put forward by ministers (or experts) trying to navigate the Brexit negotiations.  Seen by some as a pitch for the job of Chancellor, held by Phillip Hammond, a Remoaner.

Liberal Elite – experts and any well-educated people who disagree with Brexiters.  Mainly found in expensive houses in north London, Bristol and other university cities.

The Will of the People – cited by dictators through the ages to use the force of numbers to cow any of the elite who were not on their side. In 1932 Mussolini wrote in his Doctrine of Fascism that liberalism was now redundant as the “state has become the expression of the conscience and will of the people.“Used by Brexiters to imply that the 52%:48% win for Leave in the referendum was a crushing victory that should silence dissent forever.

Enemy of the People – another phrase beloved by dictators but used in November 2016 by the Daily Mail to describe British judges who ruled that Parliament should vote on the triggering of the Brexit negotiations. Similarly, campaigners against Brexit have been labelled traitors and saboteurs.

Soft Brexit – leaving the EU but staying in the Single Market and Customs Union.  Killed off by Theresa May in her Lancaster House speech when she confirmed her government would take Britain out of all vestiges of EU membership.  This position was formerly dubbed Hard Brexit.

Red, white and blue Brexit – used by the Conservative party to imply Brexit is patriotic. Not heard much these days.

Jobs first Brexit – an oxymoron used by the Labour party to pretend the position of their leadership is different to Theresa May.

Exit from Brexit – a campaign slogan of the Liberal Democrats, who want the public to have a referendum on the Brexit deal, a “first referendum on the facts”, definitely not a “second” referendum…

Ulster says NO! A favourite phrase of Democratic Unionist Party founder Ian Paisley.  Since June 2017 Theresa May has headed a minority government, propped up by the DUP.  The DUP are little different to UKIP (who’ve had new three leaders since the referendum) in terms of their hatred of the EU but inconveniently for them Northern Ireland voted Remain.

The Irish Border Question – last a serious issue in British politics in 1921, when Northern Ireland was created but with a common travel areas across all Irish and British islands.  This arrangement remained unaffected when the UK and the Republic of Ireland joined the EU together in 1973.  If Brexit happens, with Britain outside the Single Market and Customs Union, then the Irish Border will be the modern equivalent of the Schleswig Holstein Question, the intractable diplomatic problem of the 19th century.

Regulatory Divergence – the drifting apart of UK and EU trade laws and regulations.  The DUP oppose any special arrangement for keeping Northern Ireland close to EU rules as a solution to the Irish Border question.

Regulatory Alignment – a possible solution to the Irish border, if the UK agrees to hug close to current and future EU single market and customs union rules.  This would be similar to Switzerland, where they practice Autonomer Nachvollzug, the automatic translation of EU law into Swiss domestic law while pretending to be independent of the EU.  It certainly can’t translate as taking back control and would infuriate Brexiters.

Vassal State – a phrase coined by Brexiters who fear Britain will end up complying with EU regulations in order to get a good trade deal and to square the Northern Ireland question.  The Tories once campaigned on the slogan, “In Europe, not run by Europe.” The slogan will have to be reversed now – “Out of Europe but run by Europe.”

Brexodus – in previous times of high taxes known as a brain drain.  Now it’s not higher taxes but reduced opportunities that are likely to lead to a talent flight to the EU.  The country is obviously going to lose EU regulatory authorities (eg in banking and pharmaceuticals) but professional advisers based in London are also setting up offices in other EU financial centres.  Also used to describe the denuding of the NHS, universities and hi-tec industries of the EU citizens who used their freedom of movement to work in the UK.

Brextino – someone who is officially a Brexit supporter but is trying to minimise the damage.  Describes most of May’s cabinet.  A variant of the US term Rino – used by the right wing Tea Party to describe moderates who are Republican in name only.

Twitter bots – thousands of Twitter accounts that were not operated by thousands of individuals.  Allegedly used by Leave campaigners and possibly by dark forces from Russia to move opinion.  Russian money is also believed to have financed pro Leave adverts on other social media platforms.

Impact Assessments – common practice for any legal change by government, I signed off several when a minister.  David Davis told Parliament a year ago that DExEU was working on 57 of them, with a high degree of detail.  He said a month ago MPs couldn’t see them as they would undermine negotiations.  Now he says they don’t exist and if they did their value would be “near zero”.  Brexit is therefore officially a leap in the dark. Davis has faced calls for his resignation for misleading Parliament, a Dexit for Davis?

Trade Deals – arrangements between countries to reduce taxes and harmonise rules so as to increase trade.  Since 1973 the EU has negotiated these on behalf of Britain. Member states cannot negotiate their own separate deals.  When we leave the EU we will have no trade agreements in place and will have to renegotiate all the agreements currently held as an EU member.  This is in addition to a new agreement we will need with the EU itself and any deals that the EU has not yet agreed, for instance with China or the USA. Leaving the EU without a trade deal with it would be falling over the cliff edge.

WTO rules – the default rules of the World Trade Organisation, used in the absence of negotiated deals.  If Britain crashes out of the EU on Brexit Day without at least a deal with the EU itself, then we will be reliant on WTO rules for all of our international trade until new deals are signed.  This will mean tariffs and so higher prices on all goods.

Brexit Day – 29th March 2019, the second anniversary of the start of the negotiations, the backstop date set in Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.  I suspect various new words will be invented for this day.  No doubt Brexiters will refer to it as Independence Day.  As a Remoaner, I suggest Brexageddon, as it will be the end of a pointless conflict, leading to the end of the world as we know it.

 

ADDENDUM

These are new words and phrases that have emerged (or I missed!) since I wrote this article.

February 2018 update:

Transitional Period – the triggering of Article 50 started the 2 year clock for exit, ticking down to 29th March 2019.  The government has spent so much time making its mind up (with no answer at the time of writing) about what it wants from the negotiations that it accepts a period of transition will needed before the final break with all EU institutions and rules.  They wanted another two years but Michel Barnier has confirmed (February 2018) that the backstop date will be no later than 31st December 2020.

Stab in the back – a variant of Enemies of the People, straight out of the language of the 1930s, as Brexiters lash out at those they think are working to undermine their project.  Preparing the ground for a Great Betrayal if Brexit collapses, with everyone to blame but themselves.

Vichy State – a more extreme expression of Vassal State, used by Brexiters to describe the potential Transitional Period to be a betrayal of Leave voters if EU rules remain in force beyond 29th March 2019. Mainly used by that most unlikely of Brexit poster-boys, Jacob Rees Mogg.

Brexcosis – coined by Boris Johnson in his Valentine’s Day overture speech to Remainers, describing the (undue) anxiety of them about the consequences of Brexit.  A Remainer might throw the word back, saying Brexcosis should be diagnosed more accurately as a form of self-delusion common among Brexiters, believing against mounting evidence that the grass will always be greener the other side of Brexit Day. In time as the whole project crashes around them Brexiters will suffer severe Brexcosis, a depression brought on by the realisation that their dreams were an illusion.

March 2018 update:

Cherry picking – the accusation of EU negotiators that British ministers are trying to pick out the bits they like about the EU (frictionless trade) and discarding the bits they don’t like, such as the jurisdiction of the European Court over trade and market rules.  On 7th March 2018 the President of the Council of Ministers, Donald Tusk, said that there could be “no pick and mix” deal.

Cake – politicians have always accused other people (including in private moments the voters) of wanting to “have their cake and eat it” but it’s now crept into the language of our fellow Europeans. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has made it clear that the cake trolley is unavailable. After the recent series of speeches by cabinet ministers, attempting to clarify Britain’s Brexit position, Donald Tusk said with some exasperation that the politics of cake was still alive. Perhaps the tendency will become known as cakeism and if the whole thing becomes scandalous, cakegate.

Unicorns – beautiful mythical creatures, rather like the advantages awaiting post Brexit Britain, according to my fellow Remainers.

Brextremists – the true believers in the Brexit project. About 40 Tory MPs are currently holding Theresa May’s government to ransom. Every now and then one of them will repeat the nonsense that the EU needs us more than we need them and that we should walk away from the negotiations. Many of them would prefer a no deal scenario, free of all ties to the EU.

Lexits – the true believers In Brexit on the left of politics, who have spent 30 or 40 years in opposition to Britain’s membership of the EU.  They typically refer to the EU as a capitalists’ club and claim it is an obstacle to full blooded socialism.

The definite article – has become important in discussing tariff free trade.  We are current members of The Customs Union.  The government made it clear in Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech in early 2017 that they wish to leave the customs union but still want instead a “comprehensive free trade agreement.” Labour’s position is that they would leave the customs union but want to join a customs union, which currently doesn’t exist. The Liberal Democrats want us to stay in the customs union, the entity that does actually exist.

Rule taker – Britain is currently one of the rule makers, with an EU Commissioner and ministers at council meetings and MEPs in the European Parliament.  The nightmare for Brextremists is that during any transitional period and beyond we shadow EU rules in order to preserve market access rights and low or zero tariffs.  We would be rule takers, rather like Norway.

April 2018 update

Blue passports – I got my first passport in 1992, in order to go inter-railing around Europe. It was the first year that British and other EU nationals could travel behind the former Iron Curtain without a series of visas, a first step to the likes of Poland and Czechoslovakia (as it then was) joining the EU.  I remember being disappointed that this freedom to travel unhindered across multiple borders meant that I got no national stamps in my passport. The passport was burgundy red.  One of the more ludicrous campaign pledges of the Vote Leave campaign was that leaving the EU would mean a return of the “iconic” blue British passport. The colour of the cover of a passport was more important to them than the travel rights the document conferred.  Last month the Home Office announced that the new blue passports would be made by a French-Dutch company.  Competition and best value rules meant that a British firm would lose the contact.  Cue howls of protest from Brexiters, conveniently forgetting that they were supposed to be in favour of free trade.  Ironically the EU never stipulated the colour of the passport.  It could easily have been blue…

Implementation Period – the preferred term of the government for what everyone else calls the Transitional Period. The pretence is that this is the period, down to 31st December 2020, that Brexit will be implemented when in fact EU rules will remain in place for the whole of that time.  Theresa May wasted so much time (including calling an unnecessary election) that the period, whatever it’s called, is effectively an extension of the two year Article 50 period.

Schadenfreude – the warm feeling of satisfaction about the troubles of your rivals and opponents.  Remainers feel this whenever another penny drops for Leavers that their Brexit dreams were just an illusion. I saw a discussion about this on Facebook, suggesting a new word to show the double satisfaction of using a German word to describe the pain of British Brexiters.  The suggestion was schadendoublefreude or the more linguistically accurate schadendoppelfreude.

May 2018 update

Gammon – foodstuffs feature on a frequent basis in the new language of Brexit. Gammon is a pejorative term for middle aged to elderly white men who enjoy a rant about Europe, foreigners, immigration, etc. Gammons are usually overweight men, with a tendency to go red in the face while having an angry outburst. It’s most recent application has been to male audience members in the BBC’s Question Time, which every time I watch it (not often these days) is packed full of vocal gammons. But the insult appears to have much earlier origins, appearing in French humour about Englishmen in the 1960s. A less friendly version of “les roast boeufs” or “les rosbifs.”

Max fac – nothing to do with makeup (though a lot of airbrushing of facts occurs in Brexit debates) but an abbreviation of “maximum facilitation”, the preferred solution of cabinet Brexiters to the Irish Border Question when Britain is outside the Customs Union.  It places a lot of trust in cross border traders to self-declare their customs dues and is an alternative to the Customs Partnership promoted by the Prime Minister.  The EU have made it clear that both ideas are unlikely to work. The credibility of max fac was torpedoed by the head of HM Revenue & Customs who estimated it would cost businesses up to £20billion a year.

June 2018 update

Backstop date – we will (probably) be leaving the political and decision making structures of the EU on 29th March 2019.  As no one expects a final separation deal to have been completed and implemented by then there will be a Transition Period until 31st December 2020 during which the current freedoms of the union will remain and Britain will continue to make contributions to EU funds.  Such is the pessimism that a solution to the Irish Border Question will be found even by this date it is now accepted that EU customs duties will have to be collected by Britain until a workable solution can be found to the taxing of the significant movement of goods from the Irish Republic both to Northern Ireland and the Welsh ports. The Brexit enthusiasts in the cabinet were worried that this arrangement could continue indefinitely so Theresa May has conceded a backstop date of 31st December 2021.  Don’t be surprised if a new phrase has to be invented for another extension as the reality dawns that leaving the Customs Union while preserving an invisible Irish border is impossible.

Hotel California Brexit – the backstop date is meant to calm the fears of Brexiters that we might never fully leave the EU. But they have a lingering doubt that we will never manage to extricate ourselves from the almost 50 years worth of institutional entanglements. The Brexiter nightmare is that we never actually check out of Europe, quoting the last two lines of the Eagles song Hotel California – “You can check out any time you like…But you can never leave!

Brexit dividend – perhaps the most infamous Brexiter claim in the 2016 Referendum was that £350 million a week would be freed up for the NHS if we left the EU. The claim was questioned by Remainers during the campaign (but never properly debunked by the BBC) and is now totally discredited. But Theresa May has now brought it back from the dead and given it a new name – the Brexit dividend, while announcing extra funding for the NHS. The announcement has been ridiculed by economists, with the Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies pointing out that Brexit is expected to weaken tax revenues by £15billion a year, or about £300m a week.  Add to that the fact that Britain will be continuing its EU payments during the Transition Period and that we will probably remain in some institutions (or set up more costly British replicas) then there is a Brexit loss, not a dividend for many years to come.

Meaningful vote (1) – the government has guarded jealously its power to negotiate treaties and has resisted giving Parliament much of a say in the final terms of the Brexit deal.  Theresa May has said that No Deal is better than a bad deal. But she doesn’t want Parliament to have the ability to send her back to the negotiating table if it doesn’t like the outcome of her discussions.  A meaningful vote would give MPs the power to reject both a bad deal and a no deal outcome.  In June 2018 the Commons and Lords played Parliamentary “ping-pong” over amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, with Peers twice voting to insert a meaningful vote.  In the end on 20th June 2018 there were insufficient rebellious Tory MPs to counteract the Brexit supporting Labour MPs who voted with the government. The upshot was that MPs would be able to vote against Mrs May’s eventual deal but not set the terms for a revised deal or reject the path to a no deal.

Peoples Vote – there are calls for another referendum, once the exit terms are known.  Originally it was only the Liberal Democrats who supported a “first referendum on the facts” as Vince Cable called it but there are now several Labour MPs in support, as well as the Green Party.  But Corbyn and most Labour MPs are opposed and unless they shift position in the next 6 months there is very little chance of a new referendum being held.

August 2018 update

Brexcrement – multiple uses but best used as an alternative to bullshit for the nonsense spouted by Brexiters.

Pet Shop Boys Question – in West End Girls they ask, “which do you choose, a hard or soft option?” There aren’t many supporters left for a soft Brexit and the Brextremists now give overwhelming backing to the hardest of Brexits, leaving the EU with no bespoke deal and instead relying on WTO rules.  Some dub this a No Deal Brexit or even a Clean Brexit.

Chequers Mate – in July Theresa May thought that she had succeeded in finally uniting her cabinet around a common negotiating position, agreed at an away day at Chequers. The UK would leave both the Single Market and the Customs Union but would agree a Common Rule Book with the EU.  This would replicate existing EU rules and shadow future changes. Within 48 hours the Brexit Secretary David Davis had resigned. Not wishing to be usurped as leader of the hard Brexit wing of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson followed Davis out of the cabinet. Given that there is now a large blocking minority within the Tory Party, Mrs May’s deal is now effectively dead.

Brexit Meanz Brexit – the government is publishing a series of advice notes for businesses and institutions, alerting them to the implications of a No Deal Brexit.  The country will soon run out of many essential items as our just in time supply chains face interruption and delays at the border. Better stock up on everything from insulin to tins of beans.

October 2018 post party conferences update

Remain Dividend – the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller launched a new website – End the Chaos, giving facts about Brexit and the advantages of Remain.  She cited a Remain Dividend – the advantages to the economy and public finances of staying in the EU.  See https://endthechaos.co.uk/ At the Liberal Democrat conference Miller announced she didn’t see herself as a future leader of the party.

Exotic Spresm – the actual leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, introduced a new phrase into English. It wasn’t meant to come out that way, Cable’s speech had been pre-released to journalists as him saying that for many Brexiters the project was an “erotic spasm”. Unfortunately for Cable the words that actually came out of his mouth were “exotic spresm”, drawing plenty of blank expressions and no applause.  Still, I think the phrase has promise and will no doubt make its way into dictionaries of quotations.  Maybe this Lexicon will lead to a pleasurable feeling of exotic spresm among readers.  I do hope so.

All Options on the table – Labour has fudged its position on Brexit so far by talking of a jobs first Brexit and mentioning their Six Tests for judging the outcome of the negotiations, which seem to vary depending on which Labour MP is describing them.  Their conference introduced a new fudge, to get round the non-support by Corbyn and his circle for a Peoples Vote.  The official line is that if negotiations lead to a No Deal then there should be a general election.  If there is no election then “all options are on the table,” including a referendum.  But John McDonnell and other Corbynistas suggested that any such referendum should be between a deal and no deal, settling the terms of Brexit, rather than over-turning it.  Other Labour MPs insisted Remain must be a referendum option. Labour’s position is still one of constructive ambiguity.

Festival of Brexit – the Conservative conference opened with the news that in 2022 there will be a “Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” – the long title presumably to keep the DUP happy. Theresa May’s suggestion that there will be much to celebrate in post Brexit Britain has been met with much ridicule.  Presumably there will be opportunities to see exhibits of things that used to be made in Britain and to throw sponges at experts in the stocks. A cartoon in the FT showed a helter-skelter ride ending with riders flying off the cliff.

Chuck Chequers – Theresa May’s speech to her conference went off with no hitches, compared to her nightmare performance in 2017.  She didn’t mention her precious Chequers Agreement in her speech.  Few Tory MPs back it and the EU has suggested it’s unworkable.  The biggest cheer of the conference came for former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking in a fringe meeting, when he said the time had come to “chuck Chequers” and Brexit was not something that could be “bodged now and fixed later.”

December 2018 update

Withdrawal Agreement – in November Mrs May concluded negotiations with the EU, producing the Withdrawal Agreement plus a Political Statement.  The Withdrawal Agreement is essentially the terms of the divorce, setting out the process by which the UK will leave the EU.  The Political Statement is an annex to the WA, stating the intention of the parties to negotiate a final trade deal before the end of the Transition Period. The WA is a legal document, including the final payments (in the range £35 to £39billion, with the higher figure being the one most quoted by the media and Brexiters) to be made during the Transition Period from 30th March 2019 to 31st December 2020. During this period the UK will remain in the EU’s economic structures but will not have any political voice – no MEPs, no Commissioner and no attendance at the Council of Ministers. The WA also includes the Northern Ireland Backstop, to cover the eventuality of there being no new trade deal with the EU by the end of the Transition Period. Northern Ireland would remain in the EU Customs Union, with no border within the island of Ireland but with a legal border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This part of the agreement is hated by the DUP, the party Mrs May relies upon for her Commons majority. A Commons defeat for the government led to the publication of the Attorney General’s legal advice to the cabinet, making it clear that the UK government could not unilaterally terminate the backstop.

Contempt of Parliament – the government resisted the publication of the AG Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice, instead publishing a report to Parliament based upon the advice.  When the government was forced to publish the actual advice it was clear that the backstop could be indefinite, at least until a new UK-EU trade deal was agreed, with a frictionless border within Ireland.  A further vote determined that “ministers” were in Contempt of Parliament for this attempt to conceal the true nature of the backstop.  As no such contempt motion had been passed in living memory, the consequences for the unspecified ministers are unclear.  At the time of writing the AG is still in post.

Norway+ – a revived attempt to achieve a Soft Brexit as the danger of a No Deal comes closer. Norway is a member of the Single Market, so has to accept the Four Freedoms and pays substantial sums into the EU coffers for the privilege. The promoters of Norway+ are those MPs wary of a People’s Vote, believing it is an acceptable compromise.  The “plus” comes from additional membership of the Customs Union, solving the Irish Border Question.  In practice it would mean an indefinite extension of the Transition Period.  It is clearly rejected out of hand by the Brextremists in the Conservative Party and the DUP.  It also does not have the support of the leadership of the Labour Party, who still believe they can get their own special deals for access to the single market and a new customs union.

Meaningful Vote (2) – once the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised it was presented to Parliament for ratification or rejection in their Meaningful Vote. At the start of the five days scheduled for debate an amendment tabled by former AG (and Remain supporter) Dominic Grieve was passed, allowing MPs a further vote if the WA was rejected and there was a prospect of a No Deal outcome. It effectively gives MPs a veto on a No Deal.  At the start of day 4 of the debate the Prime Minister announced that the debate would be adjourned, as a rejection of the deal was the obvious outcome. No new date has been set for the vote, though the latest it can happen is 21st January 2019.  The European Parliament and the other 27 EU member states need time to agree any new WA.

Brexitometer – a street stall campaign device used by both the Liberal Democrats and People’s Vote campaigners, asking the public to mark on a white board whether they believe Brexit is going well, will be good for the economy and the NHS and whether they support a People’s Vote.

Fucktangular – I came across this new word on Twitter.  It was quoted by an American teacher from an essay by one of her history students, describing a complex situation where all the possible outcomes are bad. It seems to me to be a perfect description of all the permutations of Brexit, apart of course from the default position of staying where we are – Remain.

February 2019 update

Brextinct – the Sun’s verdict on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement after it was rejected by 432 MPs, with only 202 in favour – a record majority against a government of 230. Since her defeat on 15th January Mrs May has been on a fruitless round of talks with EU leaders, trying to find an alternative to her troublesome Northern Ireland Backstop.

Brexiternity – coined by former Labour Europe Minister Denis MacShane to describe the tortuous route to our departure.  It’s also suitable for describing the national debate and division on Europe, likely to go on for many years, whether or not we actually depart on time on 29th March 2019.  MacShane claims to be the inventor of the dreaded B word itself but the Oxford English Dictionary now traces “Brexit” to a 2012 tweet by British Influence’s Peter Wilding.

April 2019 update

Brextension – Theresa May has been forced to ask the European Council for various extensions to the original Brexit timetable, as determined by Article 50.  The time limit for Britain to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement was extended from 29th March to 12th April. If the Withdrawal Agreement failed to be ratified by that date then Britain would leave with No Deal.  If it was ratified then Britain would have until 22nd May (the eve of scheduled elections for the European Parliament) to pass the necessary legislation and then commence the Transitional Period.

Indicative Votes

In the meantime MPs have had two sets of indicative votes, with multiple options.  They rejected all options.  The heaviest defeat was for leaving with No Deal.  The closest vote was for a Customs Union.  The option with the highest support was a Peoples’ Vote, or a Confirmatory Vote as MPs preferred to call it.  MPs had temporarily seized the wheel from Theresa May, failed to drive to any destination, leaving the country somewhat directionless.

Flextension – as MPs had rejected a No Deal exit but failed to agree anything else the Prime Minister was forced to attend another European Council on 10th April to ask for another extension.  She asked for an extension to 30th June and an agreement that Britain would not participate in European elections if the WA was ratified by 22nd May.  Just before midnight EU Council President Donald Tusk announced that an agreement had been made.  Britain would have another extension, until 31st October.  The date could be brought forward if the WA was ratified earlier.  There is an option for Mrs May (if she is still Prime Minister) to ask the next meeting of Council for a further extension.

Sincere Cooperation– as part of the flextension agreement Britain has agreed to abide by the rules of sincere cooperation.  In the summer there will be new MEPs, new Commissioners will be appointed and they will propose a new EU budget.  Britain will have MEPs and a Commissioner and will attend EU Council but might still be on a path to exit.  It is agreed that the British government will not obstruct long term decision making.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2017 5:33 pm

    Where’s your definition of “ The Brussels Bandits” ?

    • December 7, 2017 6:07 pm

      You’re the only person I’ve heard say it!! Bandits don’t normally submit invoices.

      • Paul permalink
        December 9, 2017 4:50 pm

        Or get appointed by democratically elected Governments.

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