I came across this news item in the British newspaper The Independent about a row within the ruling Conservative Party following the resignation of a cabinet member who says he objects to major cuts being made in disability payments.
The headline for the story was “David Cameron would welcome a leadership challenge to ‘get rid of the t***s’, says minister” and one passage quoted a minister who is an ally of Cameron:
The minister, who is supporting the “remain campaign”, told the Sunday Times: “He [Cameron] wants to fix the problem. He wants to get rid of the t***s who have caused all the problems. There will be a reckoning.”
So who or what are ‘t***s’? The only words that would fit that I could think of are ‘twits’ and ‘tarts’ but those seem pretty mild. Mainstream British newspapers are far less prudish than US ones and one can find even ‘fuck’ in regular articles, which would cause a huge controversy here. So what is so offensive about this word that it required three letters to be replaced with asterisks? Any British slang experts who can enlighten me?