The Washington Post reports on how Barack Obama’s use of the British word “queue” has led to speculation his speech was scripted by the UK government:
President Obama was in London on Friday, where he delivered a passionate plea to Britain to vote to remain in the European Union in an upcoming referendum.
The American leader’s intervention in the country’s fierce “Brexit” row has proven remarkably divisive in London, with some politicians attacking him for being “anti-British” and others suggesting that Obama’s part-Kenyan heritage led to an “ancestral dislike of the British empire.”
Obama was apparently not fazed. During a joint news conference with Britain’s David Cameron on Friday afternoon, he offered a stern warning of the potential consequences for the transatlantic relationship should Britain leave the E.U. However, it wasn’t just Obama’s warnings that gained attention among the Brits – it was a subtle stylistic shift in the way he worded those warnings.
“I think it’s fair to say maybe some point down the line, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is on negotiating with the E.U.,” Obama told reporters. “The U.K. is going to be at the back of the queue.”
Obama was simply repeating a warning made before by U.S. officials: that the U.S. is not interested in bilateral trade deals with individual countries, and that they would focus instead on deals with larger organizations like the E.U. However, the president’s choice of words when making this point left many gobsmacked. The president of the United States had used the word “queue,” typically used by Brits, rather than “line,” considered the proper term in American English.
Some Brits quickly grew suspicious – was Obama pandering to his audience with this Britishism? Or was this a secret sign that someone British had been helping him craft his speech?