On 5th March the Lord Privy Seal, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, made a statement on the UK’s future economic partnership with the European Union. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, responded with a concern about the language used:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement, which seems to express a realism in some areas that many people have been articulating for the last year. It is just surprising that it has come so late. What worries me is the language, and I would be grateful if I could have a response to this. In the section on agrifood and fisheries in the Prime Minister’s speech on Friday, we read:
“I fully expect that our standards will remain at least as high as the EU’s. But it will be particularly important to secure flexibility here to ensure we can make the most of the opportunities presented by our withdrawal from the EU for our farmers and exporters”.
Which is it to be? “Flexibility” implies that standards could go down as well as up. If that phrase is in, the language is fairly woolly. I “fully expect” that I will be a millionaire by the time I am 65; I doubt it, though—my full expectations do not necessarily accord with reality. Could we please have some reflection on the language? It still seems dominated by assertion and aspiration rather than the sort of hard-nosed detail we need.