Brexit Bingo: 10 phrases we love to hate

From a People’s Vote to WTO rules, here are 10 phrases you will want to banish once Brexit is over

1. Soft Brexit

As cosy and as inoffensive as a cuddly toy, a soft Brexit does sound most appealing – I half want to reach out and hug it. Regardless of how you voted, everyone should take a leaf out of the remainers’ book and stick soft in front of everything. Soft morning, soft meeting, soft jog, soft phone call, soft argument – there’s nothing this word can’t improve.

2. The backstop

No, not a bus stop (although that would probably be a more workable alternative). When it comes to the backstop, nobody has the foggiest idea about what to do. Should we leave it in? Should we take it out? Should we shake it all about? Who knows. I can’t work out whether it sounds more like an American football position (one where you’re likely to get seriously injured) or a really uncomfortable bar stool. What’s certain is we can expect a lot more hokey kokey on all sides of the debate before we know what is actually going to happen across the Irish sea.

3. People’s Vote

As heard at a dinner party near you. The People’s Vote campaign has succeeded in spreading this slogan far and wide. ‘People’ has quite a narrow definition, it turns out: if you’re elderly or you live in Sunderland, it’s debatable whether you fully qualify – consult your nearest remainer to find out. Most advocates of a second referendum think it might be best for everyone if you sit this one out and focus on your funeral arrangements or your universal credit payments. After all, you didn’t really know what you were doing the first time you were asked, did you?

4. WTO rules

WTO is dangerously close to WTF, which some would say is apt given the state of indecision currently gripping parliament. You know it’s time to leave a party if The World Trade Organisation gets wheeled into the conversation. It’s less a case of ‘you had me at hello’ and more a case of ‘you lost me at WTO’ – use it at your peril.

5. Cliff-edge Brexit

If we ‘crash out under WTO rules’ there’s no knowing what might happen: Prince Philip might surrender his driving license; Boris Johnson might chop off his mop – stranger things have been seen. It’s a bit like telling someone DON’T THINK ABOUT PINK ELEPHANTS. The more MPs warn us about a cliff-edge Brexit, the more we all want to drive the car towards the cliff. Mad, I know, but also peculiarly British.

6. This Deal or No Deal

Little did Noel Edmonds realise his hit game show would shape our future relationship with Europe. Remainers say No Deal is like picking one of Noel’s boxes with no clue as to what’s inside. Brexiteers argue it’s a chance to hit the jackpot. Or you can just quit while you’re ahead like James Dyson and take your money elsewhere. The choice is yours (or Parliament’s, heaven help us).

7. I accept the referendum result but I voted remain

Remainers who accept the referendum result feel they have to signal their virtue immediately whenever they utter the B word by underlining their allegiance to Remain. Fraternize with the other side at your peril: the damage to your reputation could be off the scale.  It’s akin to killing kittens or supporting Germany in the World Cup.

8. Queues at Calais

My heart did go out to last week’s radio 4 interviewee who had her holiday ferry cancelled to make way for a medical stockpile shipment. But I confess my sympathy waned a little when she compared this minor disruption to being put on a war footing – the like of which we have not seen since WWII. If these ferry cancellations escalate, all hell could break lose: no more carting boot-fulls of Bordeaux across the blissfully open border. Instead we’ll have to make do with Wensleydale cheese and English sparkling. It’s tantamount to butter rationing.

9. The best deal for the country

The prime minister’s latest mantra hasn’t convinced MPs to back her deal. It sounds a bit like a nurse trying to persuade a child to swallow their foul-tasting medicine. Where’s Mary Poppins and her spoonful of sugar when you need her?

10. An independent trading nation

Leavers seem to envisage our exit from the EU as being like that moment Nicole Kidman got her divorce papers through from Tom Cruise and screamed ‘yes!’. We will be independent! We’ll trade with the world! A true global player! But, judging by what’s currently on the table, we’ll probably be haggling like a divorcing couple for some time yet.


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