Guest post: The Brexit countdown in sporting terms
This is a guest post from The London School of English, Nordic Region.
Sports metaphors are commonly used to describe both competitive and political situations. In this article, we take ten sporting expressions and apply them to the Brexit withdrawal process, together with an explanation of their meanings and origins. These terms are also very applicable in business and across a whole range of professional contexts. Crucially, they can really help you to sound more like a native speaker.
1. "Down to the wire"
Example: Brexit negotiations are coming down to the wire.
Meaning: A tense situation, usually in a competition, where the outcome is only clear at or near the end.
Origin: Horse racing - Where a piece of wire was strung across the finish line.
2. "The ball is in someone's court"
Example: The Prime Minister has claimed on many occasions that the ball is firmly in the EU’s court.
Meaning: It’s up to the other side to make the next move, e.g. for the EU to come with counter proposals.
Origin: Tennis – you have to wait for your opponent to respond when the ball is in on their side of the court.
3. "Get a deal over the line"
Example: Many politicians who want to avoid a hard Brexit are becoming desperate to get a deal over the line.
Meaning: To finalise a deal and get it done.
Origin: Rugby - where players get points for a try by grounding the ball on or over the try line.
4. "The gloves have come off"
Example: The gloves have really come off when it comes to discussing failings in political leadership over Brexit.
Meaning: Discussions have turned into (nasty) disputes.
Origin: Boxing - the reference here is to boxers fighting with bare fists, which is more dangerous than fighting with gloves on.
5. "An uneven playing field"
Example: There is evidence that social media was manipulated to create an unlevel playing field in the Brexit referendum campaign.
Meaning: Unfair competition, where one of the competing parties has an advantage at the outset.
Origin: Football – if one side of the playing pitch slopes it creates an unfair advantage.
6. "A hospital pass"
Example: Insisting on renegotiating the backstop agreement was viewed as a hospital pass.
7. "To have someone in one's corner"
8. "To drop the ball"
9. "A low blow"
10. "To be shown the red card"
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