handbrake turn

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Noun[edit]

handbrake turn (plural handbrake turns)

  1. (automotive) An automobile driving manoeuvre where the driver starts turning the vehicle and then pulls on the handbrake to make the rear tyres lose adhesion and thus cause the back of the vehicle to slide around (in the direction of the turn).
  2. (figuratively) A abrupt change of opinion.
    • 2003, Andrew Rawnsley, "Washed out, not washed up," The Observer, December 21 2003, [1]:
      The Tony Blair who told his party conference that he has no reverse gear has performed a screaming handbrake turn for a man he once described as an 'absolute disaster'.
    • 2005, Steve Crawshaw, Easier Fatherland: Germany in the Twenty-First Century, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 0826463207, pg. 126:
      The argument that we cannot take part because of our history no longer holds true. This volte-face - a political handbrake turn, compared with the policies that Schröder's predecessor as SPD (Social Democrats) leader had stood for - was made simpler by the fact that the shift in German public opinion was as dramatic as the politicians' change of heart.
    • 2005, The 2005 pre-Budget report : second report of Session 2005-06, 2006, Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Treasury Committee, ISBN 0215027078, pg. 36:
      Can I turn now to your handbrake turn on SIPPs, where you have prohibited all investment in residential property.
    • 2006, Gary Oliver, "Eurovision," in Power, Corruption and Pies, Vol. 2, WSC Books Limited, ISBN 0954013484, pg. 120:
      Nevertheless, Rangers, hitherto wary of compromising any Champions League involvement, have now performed a handbrake turn and come out in support of such an arrangement.
    • 2008, Kevin Connolly , "Clinton set for West Virginia win," BBC News, 13 May 2008, [2]
      It might make her look a bit ridiculous (she never criticised the delegate system when she thought she was going to win), but then Mrs Clinton seems to have what one of her supporters called the "testicular fortitude" to carry off that kind of handbrake turn.

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