London Diary: ‘Brexit’ is a dirty word now

The “Brexit” has acquired a divisive connotation because of the way it was used by Boris Johnson during the 2016 referendum to polarise public opinion portraying opponents of Brexit as anti-national

London Diary: ‘Brexit’ is a dirty word now

Hasan Suroor

‘Brexit’ a dirty word now

It’s now official. At least one state government in the UK has declared the term “Brexit” politically too toxic and banned its use in official correspondence and statements.

The Labour-led Welsh Government has ordered its civil servants not to use Brexit to refer to Britain’s exit from the European Union. The period between February 1 and December 31, 2020 when Britain was in the process of leaving the EU, is to be referred to as the “transition” phase.

The “Brexit” has acquired a divisive connotation because of the way it was used by Boris Johnson and his supporters during the 2016 referendum to polarise public opinion portraying opponents of Brexit as anti-national. It triggered widespread xenophobia leading to immigrants from EU countries being targeted and told to “go home”.

Other terms banned in an updated official style-guide issued by the Welsh Government include “HM government” (Her Majesty’s government) to refer to the Central UK government; “BAME” for members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities; and “able-bodied”. Substitutes recommended are UK government, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, and “non-disabled” respectively. And, oh, “Welsh Assembly” is no longer Welsh Assembly. It’s Welsh Parliament.

The move has been greeted with mockery with some officials accusing the government of behaving like a “Big Brother gone bonkers” by banning words and phrases used every day by ordinary people.

Is this what’s called “losing the plot”? as one official said

Chef in a soup

A Sikh hotel worker has sued a Michelin-starred chef for religious discrimination for telling him to remove his “kada” (metal bracelet) while cooking.

Niranjit Moorah Singh says that Herbert Berger of London’s Café Royal told him to remove the bracelet which had been given to him by his Malaysian grandfather 35 years ago. He told an employment tribunal that in the 20 years he had lived and worked in London, he had never before been asked to remove the bangle, comparing it to asking a Christian to take off a crucifix or a Muslim to remove a hijab.

“Every time Herbert sees me wearing my Sikh bangle . . . he asked me to remove it”, he said. Berger denies it had anything to do with religion; he was simply concerned that the bangle could become “stuck” in a “ladle whilst sauteing the food”.

Cost of counting calories

Finally, there’s something to cheer about for people who simply enjoy eating what they like and not worry themselves to death about how much calories it contains. New research shows that an obsession with counting calories can affect mental health leading to bulimia and other eating disorders.

One in ten people became bulimic while trying to stick to a low-calorie diet, it found. One person told researchers, commissioned by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), that he starved for two days “as punishment for having a binge day”. Another—James Jenkins from East London —complained of “constant mental fatigue” as a result of constantly worrying about his diet.

“Our research reveals that extreme and highly restrictive calorie counting can have a serious impact on people’s mental health. When the behaviour becomes consistently obsessive it can, over time, lead to clinically recognised disorders, such as bulimia or binge eating disorder”, Tamara Willner, a senior nutritionist, told The Times.

The fad for dieting has spawned a flourishing weight-loss industry estimated to be worth £2 billion. While the new findings are certainly good news for foodies, they are unlikely to drive dieting out of fashion any time soon.

Women beware

And talking about research, women beware! Apparently, women operated upon by male surgeons are more likely to die than those treated by female doctors. This seemingly bizarre claim is based on a study of 1.3 million patients. After analysing surgeries ranging from heart bypasses to hip replacements, it found that women were 32 per cent more likely to die, and 15 per cent more likely to have a bad outcome, if a man carried out the procedure.

They were also 20 per cent more likely to stay in hospital longer.

“We are failing some female patients and that some are unnecessarily falling through the cracks with adverse, and sometimes fatal, consequences,” Dr Angela Jerath, co-author of the study claimed to be first of its kind, told The Guardian. The findings, she said, were “concerning” because there should be no sex difference in patient outcomes regardless of the surgeon’s sex. By the way, more than 80 per cent of senior surgeons in Britain are men.

And, lastly, Tony Blair once asked a colleague to suggest a holiday reading list. Which he duly did—only to discover that Blair turned up with two books of his own choice: a copy of the Quran and a commentary on the holy book, the colleague Andrew Adonis has told The New Statesman.

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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