Penny Mordaunt prompts catastrophic cabinet Brexit metaphor pile-up

Written by David Singleton on 6 November 2018 in Diary

The international development secretary told colleagues that Brexit was like a plane journey

Ever since the referendum on 23 June 2016, Brexit metaphors in British politics have been aplenty.

One of the more questionable efforts came from Philip Hammond in 2017. The chancellor told Radio 4 that post-Brexit transitional arrangements were necessary because "when you buy a house, you don't necessarily move all your furniture in on the first day you buy it".

On a similar theme, Tony Blair called Brexit "like agreeing to a house swap without having seen the other house". Meanwhile fellow Remainer Nick Clegg deployed a very British similie to hit back at suggestions that the government had made progress on Brexit. "It’s a bit like staring at a building site and saying we’ve made progress because we’ve made a cup of tea," he said.

Brexiteers have been less forthcoming with memorable Brexit metaphors and similies, although Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has said that a transition period could lead to a "Hotel California scenario, in which we check out but never leave".

But according to a write-up of this morning’s cabinet meeting by the Spectator’s James Forsyth, one senior Brexiteer has now done her best to address this.

"Penny Mordaunt argued that Brexit was like a plane journey and that people wanted to hear from the pilot at the beginning and the end of the journey and they got worried if they heard from the pilot mid-flight to say that they weren’t going to land when they were expected to."

And the Brexit plane journey metaphor did not end there, Forsyth reports.

"David Mundell— the Scottish secretary — shot back that the passengers would be equally alarmed if they heard that the pilot couldn’t land the plane."

Finally, the metaphor crash-landed with a suggestion that if Brexit goes wrong we should all just drink G&T.

"Michael Gove — a famously nervous flier — remarked that he always found a gin and tonic helped if that happened."


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