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It is from this article.

"But what about the money?" I press on. "Going by your declaration, it's going to take 10 years for you to earn the registration fee - let alone to pay it back." Yuriy's not for turning. "It was borrowed," he says. "And anyway, it's worth the risk. I'm doing this to change the lives of every Ukrainian."

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It's a reference to Margaret Thatcher, who once said in a speech

"You turn if you want to; the lady's not for turning."

Not for means not in favour of, as one might say "I'm for equality" to mean they support equality.

The intended clever part of the line was you turn, which was intended as a pun for U-turn, a type of manoeuvre in a car where you turn to point in the opposite direction in a smooth, uninterrupted movement. In UK politics, it means to abruptly change direction in terms of policy. I believe the equivalent term in American politics is "flip-flop". Margaret Thatcher had been urged to reverse a policy, to do a political u-turn, and her speechwriter came up with "you turn if you want to; the lady's not for turning."

In this case, it is a way of indicating that this Yuriy is unwilling to change his plans.

  • Thatcher's usage was itself riffing off The Lady's Not for Burning, a 1948 play by Christopher Fry. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 24 at 17:57
  • I don't think we need follow every reference back to a putative original thought ;) – SamBC Feb 24 at 17:58
  • If it hadn't been for the antecedent, Thatcher's usage would have been universally met with a bemused Huh? What on earth is she on about? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 24 at 18:01
  • Not sure about that. Not sure most people were aware of the play. It's a sentence that makes sense and is grammatical. – SamBC Feb 24 at 18:02
  • I think you'll find that most UK newspapers who might have had reason to suspect their readers wouldn't be aware of the reference would have explicitly flagged it up when originally reporting the speech. It might "make sense", but it would have been a very strange thing to say, even in the context of the other "pun" (u-turn = you turn). Apart from anything else, you'd at least expect this lady, not the lady, when she was referring to herself. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 24 at 18:06

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