Saturday, 16 January 2021



Farewell to the Brexit buzzwords

Brexit march placard

Image: Unsplash

Brexit is done, and so too is the era of questionable clichés. We cherry-pick the very worst.

In February, a leaked memo to Foreign Office staff opened with the following sentence: “Brexit is completed. So do not use the term ‘Brexit’, save as a historical event that took place on 31 January 2020.” Once so beloved and overused by Boris Johnson that it seemed there was a glitch in his programming, it’s now official: Brexit is done. To celebrate, we rounded up the most infuriating words, phrases and clichés that have driven everyone to distraction since the 2016 referendum. 


‘Special partnership’

Any child whose parents described sex as when two adults have a ‘special hug’ will know that this word is most commonly used to sugar coat lies and change the subject. It’s just special – stop asking so many questions. 



Sorry Bojo, but it’ll take more than an internal memo to get rid of this one. First coined in a blogpost by a Remainer (sorry) back in 2012 before the referendum was even a glint in Nigel Farage’s eye, the B-word was hijacked by Leavers (sorry) on the campaign trail. Number 10’s next move will probably be an attempt to have it struck from the Oxford English Dictionary, where it was added in 2016 along with ‘Get your freak on’ and ‘Glam-ma’ (a glamorous grandmother, obviously). 



Having the cake, eating the cake, having the cake and eating the cake – so much cake. This tired old phrase got a new lease of life as Brexit negotiations rumbled on, but can someone please explain why you would ever have a cake and not eat it? 


‘The devil is in the details’

According to the UK media, he’s actually now in Number 10. Hates press freedom, loves a good beanie. 

‘Table’ (verb)

They ‘tabled’ talks, they ‘tabled’ meetings, they even gabbed about ‘tabling’ a motion of no confidence; this was just one of the many grammatically dubious phrases we couldn’t get away from as our democracy steadily imploded, taking journalists’ ability to speak like normal human beings with it. 




When Brexit finally does get done and all our fruit gets stuck at Calais, will we have to come up with a new cliché? 



‘Back to Brussels’ 

The ultimate three-word horror story of 2019, which saw an increasingly knackered Theresa May slog to and fro between Westminster and the European Parliament with various poorly disguised versions of the same deal. We’d love to see the expenses bill for this one. 

European Parliament
Image: Unsplash

‘Took to Twitter’ 

Since the referendum, everyone’s been taking to Twitter. Gone are the simple days of mindless tweeting; Twitter is now a weapon to be used against one’s enemies, or a shield to be taken up to batter away the stream of diatribe. Whether they ‘took to Twitter’ for some good old fashioned trolling or simply engage is some drastically misjudged banter (we’re looking at you Michael Gove), it seemed impossible for politicians to do anything without ‘taking to twitter’. 



It’s thought that Shakespeare invented over 1700 words, so why can’t Donald Tusk have a go at a few? Unsurprisingly, Tusk ‘took to Twitter’ to unleash his shiny new word into a world where the rules are notoriously lax. It found a good home, right next to Donald Trump’s OG nonsense word, ‘covfefe’. 



‘Crisis point’

Just like the boy who cried wolf, there are only so many times this can be said before it loses all meaning. When every day is a ‘crisis point’ yet literally nothing changes, the phrase becomes little more than a desperate plea for something to actually HAPPEN. 



‘The ball is in their court’

The ball is always in their court, even if it might seem to be in yours. If the ball shows any sign of coming into your court, hit it away quickly before anyone notices. The ball is never your responsibility. 



‘The people have spoken’

The people would probably rather you shut up now. 

Brexit march
Images: Unsplash



Most commonly used to belittle totally valid concerns voiced by those scaremongering remoaners behind Project Fear. 


‘Going forward’

Literally nothing ever went forward. 


‘Remains to be seen’

A neat little sign-off favoured by political correspondents from London to Brussels, loosely translated as “fuck knows what will happen next”. 


Want more? Check out some of XCityPlus’s latest content here.