The word “pettifogging” was used in a House of Commons exchange today about the new blocking rules – but what does that mean?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new restrictions on England were “pettifogging” but not “malicious” in response to criticism from a Conservative colleague.
Conservative ex-minister Sir Desmond Swayne, a critic of the government’s lockdown plans, told the Commons: “Why are pettifogging malice pettifogging into these regulations despite the attack on freedom and livelihood?”
In response, Mr. Johnson said, “Pettifogging, yes. Malicious, no. The intent – and I will take the hit here – is to stop the virus, protect the NHS, and save lives. “
The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines pettifogging as “rules or details (which) are too small and not important enough to look out for”.
The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary says, “Pay too much attention to unimportant details; related to unimportant things.”
Earlier on, former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Will he at least ensure that statutory sick pay is increased to £ 320 a week, that universal credit is not cut, and that personal tenancy protection continues after the end of? This lock and, above all, that it ensures that every child in every school and every student has the opportunity to learn online? “
The Prime Minister replied, “I thank the right honorable gentleman who seems to be recapitulating what his real honorable colleague (Sir Keir Starmer) has already asked me as if he was still doing his old job.”