‘You called me nebulous’: Heated exchange between May and Juncker goes viral
Cameras filmed the stern conversation at the start of a European Commission summit on Brexit, starting a deluge of jokes online.
Theresa May and European Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker were filmed having a heated exchange in Brussels on Friday morning, leading to a torrent of online speculation as to what the pair were discussing.
Mr Juncker placed his arm on Mrs May’s elbow in an apparent bid to placate the Prime Minister as she took him to task at the start of the European Council Summit on Brexit.
“This doesn’t exactly look like an exchange of pleasantries between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker as the Brexit summit gets underway,” wrote journalist Philip Sime, sharing the video on Twitter.
Twitter users quickly went to work guessing what the pair were discussing.
May "Let me be clear. I want the EU to agree to disagree with what it agreed to agree to in November even though I agreed to it"— George Court (@courty1793) December 14, 2018
May: "Let me be clear. I want the EU to agree to disagree with what it agreed to agree with me in November even though I agreed to it"
"No, that's not what I put on my Christmas list, you gave me the same thing last year." https://t.co/zgjCpVLoKT— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) December 14, 2018
'Theresa, for the last time. Die Hard *is* a Christmas movie.' https://t.co/s1PgJDIxU5— Tom McArthur (@TomMcArthur) December 14, 2018
I’m a professional lip reader and she’s saying “it’s too early for a round of Jäger Bombs, Jean-Claude.” And then he says “fpshspghssfgppshshshs”— Ollie (@Olle7Ho) December 14, 2018
Others were quick to compliment the cinematic camerawork of whoever filmed the conversation.
The camera is moving as if Scorsese is directing. https://t.co/fHZubAnKKV— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) December 14, 2018
Stanley Kubrick is alive and well & operating a steadycam for BBC News https://t.co/gev70Tuj8G— Ally Fogg (@AllyFogg) December 14, 2018
Lovely to see the old Top of the Pops cameramen have found work, though...— Marvellous Mark Monro (@MMMonro) December 14, 2018
Lipreading experts eventually deduced that Mrs May was confronting Mr Juncker over comments he made on Thursday evening in which he called the UK’s position “nebulous and imprecise”.
NEW - Two expert lipreaders tell 5 News that Theresa May accuses Jean-Claude Juncker of describing her as nebulous.— Channel 5 News (@5_News) December 14, 2018
This is how the conversation went, according to the lipreaders: pic.twitter.com/IuP99fJiXG
The Oxford Dictionary website defines “nebulous” as “in the form of a cloud or haze; hazy” or “(of a concept) vague or ill-defined”.
This clarification did not stop the jokes.
a new sitcom called Absolutely Nebulous pic.twitter.com/EoAQE03Lnz— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) December 14, 2018
Did you insinuate I was nebulous on the Plymouth Herald comments section? https://t.co/3dPHFO618t— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) December 14, 2018
Literally “nebulous” is the kindest, most diplomatic word you could possibly use about the current state of British political debate— Martini Seltzermayr (@mseltzermayr) December 14, 2018
In fact, interest in the word “nebulous” rocketed on Friday afternoon, according to the Google Trends team.
Search interest in "nebulous" has spiked in the UK today. pic.twitter.com/mqwUlELOTh— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) December 14, 2018
But as one Twitter user pointed out, if Mrs May believes being called “nebulous” is a horrifying insult then she better not look at her mentions on Twitter.
If May thinks, “Nebulous” is an insult, she’s best off not reading her Twitter-feed.— Mary Francis (@maryeffrancis) December 14, 2018