UK House of Commons leader issues ‘style guide’ to staff

LONDON, Britain's Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg

London,  UK House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has issued a “style guide” to staff members in his new office asking them to stop using words such as “hopefully”, “very” “lot” and “got”. They should use only imperial measurements and refer to non-titled men as “esquire”, he said.

Rees-Mogg’s aides sent out the list shortly after his appointment by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Among the words and phrases considered unacceptable were: “very”, “due to” and “ongoing”, as well as “equal”, “yourself” and “unacceptable”. They also barred the use of “lot”, “got” and “I am pleased to learn”.

In a call for accuracy contained in his list, the aides were told: “Check your work.” Other directions included a call for a double space after full stops and no comma after the word “and”, the UK media reported.

According to Rees-Mogg’s team, staff should avoid “too many ‘is'” in their writing, and he would neither “note/understand your concerns”, nor would he welcome calls to “invest (in schools, etc)”. The phrase “no longer fit for purpose” had been deemed no longer fit, they said.

The move sparked comments on social media on Friday including reactions from fellow MPs — Chris Bryant and Angela Rayner (both Labour Party).

“I confess I like a double space after a full stop. Not bothered about M.P. rather than MP or Esq, as I’m not the son of a knight. I like the Oxford comma. I measure food in kilos,” tweeted Bryant.

“Who will have the courage to tell JRM that we don’t order kids up chimneys these days, Dixon of Dock Green wasn’t a real policeman or the Penny Farthing isn’t ones choice of bicycle anymore?” tweeted Rayner.

The guidance was drawn up by Rees-Mogg’s North East Somerset constituency team some years ago. It has been shared with officials in his new office, the Press Association reported.

Lynne Murphy, professor of linguistics at the University of Sussex, said Rees-Mogg’s style guide did not necessarily relate to grammatical rules or other language rules, but seemed more aimed “at preserving his antique vibe”.

Several commentators accused the Tory MP of trying to distract from substantive issues.

“There was a time when the Tories had to throw a dead cat on the table to deflect attention. From now on all it will take is a Jacob Rees-Mogg punctuation guide,” tweeted Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges.