Aide-mémoire

4th anniversary of the EU Referendum

Exercise 4. Read the following text aloud. How far will *you* get?

‘The idea that Britain would be apocalyptically off the cliff edge if we left the EU is silly.’ ‘The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards.’ ‘Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market.’ ‘There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.’ ‘The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.’ ‘Brexit means Brexit ~ and we’re going to make a success of it.’ ‘The money saved from leaving the EU will result in the NHS getting £350m a week.’ ‘There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside.’ ‘The best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox, and indeed to bring this country together, would be, I think, to get Brexit done.’

Pravda

Hello! I’m the Russia Report. You might remember me from newspaper articles such as ‘Where’s the Russia Report?’, ‘UK Parliament Presses Johnson to Release the Russia Report’, and ‘The Government’s Refusal to Release the Russian Interference Report is Part of a Worrying Pattern of Obstruction’.

Hazy on the details? Understandable. A fair bit’s happened since the ‘Intelligence and Security Committee’ asked the PM to sign me off eight months ago. Which was the exact moment I got kicked into the long grass.

The Big Question is what evidence I contain of Russian interference in UK politics (not least that Referendum). Might be a little, might be a lot, but as things stand, you’re not gonna know.

I’m partial to the truth, myself. As one of my favourite Russian proverbs says: ‘better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie’. Well it is, isn’t it?

H/T The Simpsons

Crap App

Thompson and Carter v Hancock, Old Bailey, November 2026 —

Prosecuting Counsel: Your Honour, today we will examine decisions made by the Defendant while Minister for Health in 2020. These relate to the UK contact tracing app, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

It is our contention that the Defendant — motivated by ideology and cronyism — knowingly opted out of the Google-Apple model and EU procurement schemes so that he could award contracts worth millions to companies such as Dyson, VMware and Zuhlke Engineering. Their attempts to reinvent the technological wheel ended in predictable failure and delays — and led to many avoidable deaths from Covid-19.

Drawing on R v Prentice, Adomako and Holloway [1994] QB 302, we will show how the Defendant breached his duty of care to the citizens of the UK, causing deaths in circumstances that amount to a criminal act or omission.

In sum: we argue that the Defendant is guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.

Prexit

Club statement, 17 June 2020 —

We can confirm that Sunderton United is leaving the Premier League at the end of this season to compete as a sovereign club on the global stage. The decision will enable us to take back control by dispensing with undesirable rules and red tape (especially VAR).

We are in the process of securing top-flight international fixtures in the emerging American and Asian markets. Expert negotiator Les Truss has already initiated talks on our behalf, and we anticipate a number of highly lucrative deals by the beginning of next season.

Supporters have voiced concerns about the speed of our departure and the loss of millions of pounds in revenue at this exceptionally turbulent time. We are confident, however, that a “clean Prexit” will open a glorious new chapter in Sunderton United’s history.

We will of course ensure, in as yet unspecified ways, that our supporters continue to enjoy an unrivalled footballing experience.

Pariah States

Elevator pitch, UK Women in Innovation Awards

Hi everyone – I’m Anna and I run a startup called Safe Travels. It’s an app for young people planning to work or travel abroad in the wake of the pandemic, and aims to help them make confident, informed decisions in these uncertain times.

So, in a nutshell: the app allows users to compare and contrast how well countries have responded to COVID-19. The main measure is excess deaths (more reliable than government figures, which sometimes exclude data sets like care homes). But users can also compare the speed with which lockdown was implemented, the effectiveness of the Test & Trace system, and the gender, political stance and risk attitude of leaders.

The results can be viewed in tabular or map form, and are colour-coded from yellow (the countries doing best) through to black (the pariah states).

My plan if Safe Travels takes off? To move to New Zealand.

What Are The Odds?

Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingency Committee Meeting, July 2019

PM: Morning, everyone. Look, I do hope nobody minds, but I’ve decided to abolish this committee with immediate effect. It’s rather superfluous and we need all hands on deck for Our Glorious Brexit.

THRCC: But Prime Minister, what about our pandemic contingency planning?

PM: Brexit!

THRCC: But sir… A pandemic is one of the most significant civil emergency risks facing the UK. We need thorough and coordinated preparation across all departments and the NHS. Global health experts have been warning for years that there’s a big one on the way.

PM: Brexit!

THRCC: But… a pandemic could cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and cost tens of billions of pounds!

PM: BREXIT.

THRCC: *speechless*

PM: Come on, guys. Cheer up! I mean — seriously — what are the odds?

H/T Monty Python’s ‘Top of the Form’ sketch

Bon Voyage, Nige

Dear Nigel,

Even as a small boy, I wanted to work in radio. Unfortunately for me, I ended up in the production team for your LBC show. That means I’ve had to listen to you drone on for six hours a week over the past three years; one of Dante’s inner circles of hell.

I’d like to say I’m sorry you were axed by the station today, but that would be a lie. I’m actually delighted, as are the twenty-eight colleagues with whom I had a celebratory Zoom call after the news broke. We cracked open some Belgian beer and recalled your 2017 promise to LBC listeners: that if Brexit was a disaster, you’d “go and live abroad”. Please know that we’ll happily see you off when you set sail from Dover to the Fox News studios. We’ll even put up some bunting and wave tiny Union Jacks.

Yours,

Gary

and pretty much everyone else at LBC

You Guv

Dom’s telling you to take no notice coz it’s not a f*cking beauty contest, but he doesn’t have CCHQ shouting down the line at him every bloody day.

You can’t actually work out where you went wrong. The COVID thing? God, it’s so tempting to do a Bolsonaro and pull the stats completely. But then the shit would really hit the fan; there was enough fuss when you dropped the international comparisons back in May. And as for Keir f*cking Starmer, sitting there like a smug rock at PMQs and taking the knee as if he’s one of them. Statues toppling everywhere — they’ll be going after Maggie next!

Dom’s telling you to chill; he’s got a plan; WTO’s the way to go, coz the economy’s wrecked anyway and no one will know the difference.

Well, he’d better be right. Or you, guvnor, are well and truly f*cked.

H/T Orwell

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Extract from CCHQ Communications Manual — Glossary

> ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ (the ‘Annie’)

To make a wildly ambitious, unachievable promise as a means of deflecting from current catastrophic policy failures, e.g. Hancock & Johnson, 20 May: ‘Our world-beating Test and Trace system will be in place by 1 June’.

> Doublespeak (hat tip Orwell)

To assert a policy aim that directly contradicts policy, but in a manner that suggests the former is the logical outcome of the latter (see also: Gaslighting), e.g. Priti Patel, 18 May 2020: ‘We’re ending free movement to open Britain up to the world’.

> U-U-Turn

To announce a policy U-turn immediately after accusing the Opposition of doing a U-turn, thereby cunningly disguising your own U-turn, e.g. Boris Johnson, PMQs 3 June 2020, re proxy voting for so-called ‘shielding’ MPs unable to vote in person.

*This Glossary will be updated regularly as new & improved strategies for dissembling are identified*

Great British Queue

Phone call, Tuesday 2 June. The Rt Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg from his London townhouse [390 yards from Westminster] to his wife at their Somerset pile.

Evening, darling. How are you all?

Splendid — Nanny’s keeping us beautifully busy. So, how did it go?

Not bad. One unfortunate pile-up at the bottom of the Portcullis escalator, but that’ll teach them to use some common sense in future.

Moggy, I don’t mean to criticise, but was it a good idea — given we’re in the middle of a pandemic — to have MPs flock from all over the country to queue en masse for 90 minutes at a time when they could just have voted from home?

We’d be doing democracy an injustice otherwise, darling.

I’m not sure 200 shielding MPs and their constituents would agree with you.

This isn’t the time for jokes, darling.

I’m not joking. And for the next 14 days, Jacob, you needn’t bother coming home.