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An A to Zebra guide on how to speak Brexit:
CRAIG BROWN reveals what May actually means by 'let's get on with it' and 'strong and stable'

AGREEMENT: Always ‘broad’ and/or ‘far-reaching’.

AND: In learning to speak May, it is worth remembering that two words are always better than one, particularly when they mean the same. Hence: strong and stable, fair and open, deep and comprehensive, unique and unprecedented, rights and obligations, attentions and efforts, co-operation and partnership, bold and creative, confident and forward-looking, ups and downs, ins and outs, Little and Large, Morecambe and Wise, dumb and dumber, Callard and Bowser, over and out.

AS I SAID: Whenever you begin a speech, preface it with the phrase, ‘As I said’, eg, ‘As I said in Munich, what I said in Florence was what I said in Lisbon, which is what I said in Munich.’

AGREEMENT: Always ‘broad’ and/or ‘far-reaching’.

AND: In learning to speak May, it is worth remembering that two words are always better than one, particularly when they mean the same. Hence: strong and stable, fair and open, deep and comprehensive, unique and unprecedented, rights and obligations, attentions and efforts, co-operation and partnership, bold and creative, confident and forward-looking, ups and downs, ins and outs, Little and Large, Morecambe and Wise, dumb and dumber, Callard and Bowser, over and out.

AS I SAID: Whenever you begin a speech, preface it with the phrase, ‘As I said’, eg, ‘As I said in Munich, what I said in Florence was what I said in Lisbon, which is what I said in Munich.’

CHERRY-PICKING: Cherries are not to be picked, though why not, nobody knows.

CHOICES: Always ‘tough’ and/or ‘hard’.

COMMITMENTS: Always ‘binding’. ‘We will make a strong and binding commitment up to that time when we start insisting that no such commitment was ever made.’

COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM OF MUTUAL RECOGNITION: Similar to a mutual system of comprehensive recognition, but wholly different from a recognised system of mutual comprehension.

CONFIDENT: Just the word to employ when you are feeling doubtful. In May-speak, the use of ‘confident’ is a sure sign of hesitation. ‘I have never been more confident. Well, hardly ever. I’ve hardly ever been more confident. Well, not confident, exactly. I wouldn’t go that far. I’ve hardly ever been, well, you know what it’s like.’

DEALS: Always ‘wide-ranging’ and/or ‘mutually beneficial’.

DECISIONS: Decisions determine agreements. And agreements determine decisions. And that is why we remain determined.

DIALOGUE: Always ‘ongoing’.

DIFFERENCE: points of: Never worth worrying about. ‘I am confident that any points of difference will be resolved in the days ahead.’ See also: Ironed Out.

ENDING: The opposite of ongoing, though, looked at from another angle, exactly the same. ‘We should think of it as not so much an ending as a beginning.’

EXISTING MODELS: Will not work. For example, the Norway model, where we would stay in the single market. Or the Canadian model, which would mean access to each other’s markets.

Or the Swedish model, which would be topless.

Or the Airfix model, which would be held together with glue and made to hang from the ceiling.

More than ever, we are determined to create the wax model, which is full of pins and delivers sharp pains to those who cross us.

FACTS: Always ‘hard’. We all need to face up to some hard facts. Let’s face facts. Life is going to be different. But better. Or better-ish. Or not much worse, if we’re lucky. Thank goodness for Liam Fox!

FOUNDATION: Where is the foundation? The foundation is often to be found beneath the cornerstone.

FORGE: The only way to forge a bold, new, positive future in the world is to study the great forgers of the past. Let’s be clear about this. If we have a future, it must be forged.

FRAMEWORK: A framework is important if you want to get round a table. Because a table without a framework will collapse.

FUTURE: Always ‘within our grasp’ and/or ‘waiting to be seized’.

GOAL: Always ‘shared’, no matter what. ‘As in football, both teams have a shared goal.’

HOW WE GET THERE: But how do we get there? By forging ahead. No-one ever got anywhere by going backwards.

INTERESTS: Always ‘shared’.

IRONING OUT: To iron out an issue, 1) bring it to the table, 2) underpin it, 3) hammer it out, 4) iron it out.

ISSUES: Always ‘broader’.

IT, LET'S GET ON WITH: A key part of the May language, to be repeated until fluent. ‘But before we get on with it, it’s incumbent on all of us to make some tough choices.

‘And those choices will not only be tough, but also hard.

‘So before we get round the negotiating table, we must say to ourselves, “These choices, tough and hard though they may be, must not prevent us from getting on with it.”

‘But before we get on with it, we must do our level best to face the hard facts and be sure what “it” is. Because then — and only then — will be able to get on with it.’

Kind of country we want to be: ‘The kind of country we want to be is a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy. In fact, just like the one we have at the moment. And that’s why it’s so vitally important to accept change with open arms, because without change we won’t stay the same.’

KNOW, I: What do you know, Theresa? ‘I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best. And I know that sometimes life can be a struggle.’

LIFE: Life after Brexit is going to be different for those who want it to be different, but the same for those who want it to stay the same.

MAKE THIS WORK, LET’S: The more you chant this, the better you’ll feel.

MESSAGE TO EUROPE: ‘Our message to Europe is clear. We know what we want. We understand your principles. We have a shared interest in getting this right. So let’s get on with it.’ (See also ‘It, Let’s Get On With’).

MOMENTS: Usually ‘crucial’, often ‘historic’ and always ‘fast approaching’.

NEGOTIATIONS: Invariably ‘complex’.

ON OUR OWN: ‘If we want to do it on our own, then we have a responsibility to help find a solution. But that is not something we can do on our own. So all Europe must pull together so that we can do it on our own.’

ONE FINAL POINT: ‘Let me make one final point, Andrew. One final point is what I want to make. And to make one final point is what I want. So let me make this one final point. A final point will always be worth making. And that is final.’

One plus one: ‘Following a successful Brexit, we will return to old numbers, so one plus one will officially equal 11.’

OPPORTUNITIES: Always ‘far-reaching’.

OUTCOME: Always ‘best possible’, as in: ‘Delivering the best possible outcome for the kind of country we want to be.’

PARTNERSHIP: Always ‘special’.

The reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts. But what are the hard facts? The hard facts are that we have to face up to reality'             +2

‘The reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts. But what are the hard facts? The hard facts are that we have to face up to reality'

PEOPLE: ‘I want to be straight with people. Because the reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts.’ (See also Facts).

PROGRESS: ‘Real’ or ‘very real’.

PROUD: ‘We are proud to stand up for our values.’ (See also Values).

QUESTION, THE: ‘The question is, how we get there: how we build a bridge from where we are now to where we want to be.’

REALITY: ‘The reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts. But what are the hard facts? The hard facts are that we have to face up to reality. But what is reality? That’s what we must continue to look into.’ (See also Facts).

RELATIONSHIP: This is always ‘new’ or ‘lasting’ or, at its very best, ‘new and lasting’.

‘My colleague Liam Fox has every intention of striking a new and lasting trading relationship with the Isle of Wight, weather permitting.’

SOLUTION: Always ‘lasting’.

STABLE: See Strong.

STRONG: See Stable.

Truth: ‘The truth is, Andrew, that we need a strong and stable solution.’

UNDERPINNING: ‘Our foundations underpin our ambitions, our ambitions underpin our values, our values underpin our partnerships, and our partnerships underpin our foundations.’

Values: See Underpinning.

VISION: Best to have while standing outside Downing Street, in search of something to say. ‘I am here today to set out my bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country.’

World, our place in the: Somewhere we can be confident of.

Who we are and where we want to be: Something that Dr Liam Fox very much hopes to discover in a month or two.

YOUNG PEOPLE: The future.

ZEBRA: It’s not all black and white.

 

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This site was last updated 03/15/18