Either. Or. (An express guide to syntax)

“A MEMBER of Labour’s leadership has revealed new plans to keep Britain in the EU for an extra two years” shrieked the hysterical sub heading of David Maddox’s deliberately disingenuous piece in the Daily Express yesterday.

Apparently, I have let slip a secret plan to keep “UK in EU even longer”.


Well, Mr. Maddox is vastly overestimating my power and influence. After all it is Theresa May’s Conservative government which, nominally at least, is in power. They are the ones who need a plan – secret or otherwise – but seem too confused by their own civil war to think about what the country actually needs.

Secondly, the claims made by his article are knowingly misrepresentative. He has quoted out of context the final few words of a paragraph in a technical piece I wrote about legislation (and I thank him for his interest, when even my most EU-obsessed friends may not give this the same level of scrutiny as him!) and turned this into a call to arms:

In his latest statement, Mr Corbett wrote on his website: “Extend the UK’s EU membership for the transitional period… setting a later date for departure”.

Here is what I actually wrote (be warned – it is far less sensational that Mr. Maddox suggests!) including the very important italicised words – which were in the original piece:

Unless the lawyers find an intricate and innovative solution to all such problems, this poses a major difficulty. It can only be solved in one of two ways: either negotiate some 750 three-way agreements between the EU, the UK and the third countries concerned to extend the status quo for the transition period (or longer), bearing in mind that there are just 13 months left to negotiate (and often ratify in national parliaments) such agreements, or extend the UK’s EU membership for the transitional period.”

Clearly, I have laid out a legal problem and said that potential solutions are either one thing or the other. Mr Maddox has misled his readers by making it look like I said ‘Extend!’

Perhaps Mr Maddox secretly wants an extension of our EU membership. After all, more and more people do. But given that this is the Daily Express, I doubt it. He simply wants to mislead … or misread.

In another life, were he a  Danish royal correspondent, Hamlet would be a lot shorter (perhaps some would thank him!) as the Prince would now say ‘Not to be!’ and jump off the battlements of Elsinore!

As it stands, it seems that either David Maddox is wilfully misrepresenting me, or he can’t understand complex sentences.

Either way, as political correspondent of the Daily Express, we can only hope he can improve and will learn to use quotations more accurately in the future.

Or not.



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