Figures of Speech HOME

Home | 2018

Brexit: statements to remember

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2018-07-14 10:02.

Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump held a press conference at Chequers yesterday, Friday 13 July 2018.

May gave carefully scripted, almost identical responses to two questions, the contents of which, amid the rest of the nonsense, made me sit up and take notice: did she really say those things?

I listened to the YouTube video of the press conference. Yes she did. Before going to the trouble of transcribing her comments, I found that Politico was offering a transcript of the press conference. Politico states that the transcript was provided by the British Embassy in Washington. Here are the two sections in question:

The British Embassy transcript

There will be no limit to the possibility of us doing trade deals around the world once we leave the EU. This is an agreement that delivers on the Brexit vote in 2016 and delivers what is in the forefront of people’s mind. We will ensure free movement comes to an end, as does the jurisdiction of the ECJ and sending vast sums of money to the EU. We will ensure we can have an independent trade policy and do deals around the world

[…]

On the deal we have put on the table, the agreement, as I said earlier, this does deliver on the vote of the British people to leave the EU. We will be leaving the EU, and we will be leaving on March 29, 2019. As we leave, we will be delivering what the people voted for. We will ensure we have an independent trade policy. That is what the British people voted for and it’s what we will be delivering.

What the transcript left out

Reading this anodyne text, I struggled to find the parts of her statements that had so shocked me – not surprising really, because they weren't there. The use of the word 'transcript' to describe this text is mendacious – but we should be used to that by now.

Here it is, annotated with what she really said according to the best transcript of all – the video recording. In the following, red text marks the things she said that were not transcribed, grey text things she did not say:

Theresa May responding to a question about a soft Brexit

There will be no limit to the possibility of us doing trade deals around the rest of the world once we leave the EuropeanUnion on the basis of the agreement that was made here at Chequers and that I put forward to the European Union. And just to be clear, This that is an agreement that delivers on the Brexit vote that we had in 2016 here in the UK and that delivers what is I believe was in the forefront of people’s minds when they were voting to leave the European Union. So at the end of these negotiations We we will ensure that free movement will come comes to an end, as does the the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice here in the UK will come to an end, the and sending of vast sums of money every year to the EU will come to an end. We will come out of the Common Agricultural Policy, we will come out of the Common Fisheries Policy . and We we will ensure by not being in the Customs Union that we are able to we can have an independent trade policy and do those trade deals around the world…

36:30-37:35

Theresa May responding to a second question about a soft Brexit

On the deal we have put on the table, the agreement we have put on the table, as I said earlier in response to Laura's first question, this does deliver on the vote of the British people. The British people voted to leave the European Union. And I heard the turn of phrase that the President used earlier, but let me be very clear about this: We will be leaving the European Union, and we will be are leaving on March 29, 2019 29 March 2019. As we leave the European Union, we will be delivering on what the people voted for : an end to free movement, an end to sending vast amounts of money to the European Union every year, an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice here in the United Kingdom, coming out of the Common Fisheries Policy, coming out of the Common Agricultural Policy, and ensuring . We will ensure by coming out of the Customs Union that we can have an independent trade policy that enables us to negotiate trade deals with the United States and with other countries around the rest of the world. That is what the British people voted for and it’s that is what we will be delivering. We will deliver it in a way that protects jobs and livelihoods and meets our commitments to the border in between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

48:56-50:00

Conspiracy theorists might like to consider what was left out of the 'transcript': all the specifics such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy among other things. All the things the Brexiteer would have heard and approved of. These omissions are not the sign of a transcriber cutting corners, they are the sign of an editor massaging the text into the desired non-committal form.

What May really said

The readers of this website are quite capable of analysing May-speak on their own, but they will be as impressed as I was at the technique for deception and dissembling on display: such a firm date! But all the conditions attached by 'as we leave', which the simple listener takes as 'at the moment we leave'. That is not what she said at all. She gave a repeated list of all the things that Brexiteers want, but no commitment to deliver them.

The intention is clear: Brexiteers listening to radios, watching television or watching the YouTube video will have the phrases they want to hear drizzled over them. The lawyers reading this text will have a completely different impression.