Wednesday 26 June 2019

How Twitter reacted to a week of Brexit chaos

Despite all the confusion and uncertainty in Westminster, social media users still found humour in an unpredictable week of politics.

It was a tumultuous week for the Prime Minister, among others (Victoria Jones/PA)
It was a tumultuous week for the Prime Minister, among others (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Alastair Reid, Press Association

Christmas may be drawing near but the last week in Westminster has been suspiciously absent of festive spirit, featuring a cancelled Commons vote, furious MPs, a no-confidence bid and heated exchanges in Brussels.

For many on Twitter, though, this week has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday began with the disturbing footage of motion capture actor Andy Serkis donning a grey wig to portray the PM as a version of his obsessive character Gollum from the Lord Of The Rings.

After weeks of failed campaigning to get MPs to back her Brexit deal at a crucial vote in Parliament on Tuesday, speculation had built that Mrs May was going to cancel the vote altogether.

A Number 10 spokesman told the media the vote will be going ahead on Monday morning, then half an hour later insiders told the press it was being cancelled.

As Mrs May announced the cancellation of the vote and dashed off to Europe to try to renegotiate her deal, MPs continued to debate what should happen next in Parliament.

Then, in a moment of chaos, Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle grabbed the five-foot ceremonial mace in the centre of the Commons in protest and tried to leave the hall.

Furious MPs continued to hurl invective at the absent Prime Minister throughout Tuesday, as Mrs May escaped to the continent in an attempt to persuade leading figures in Europe to renegotiate her deal.

With calls for a no confidence vote in the Government echoing around Westminster and whispers about deposing the PM within her own party, Mrs May arrived in Berlin and promptly got stuck in her car.

Reports of mutiny within the Tory party continued to trickle forth throughout Tuesday and by Wednesday the threshold of unhappy MPs had been reached.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench Conservative MPs known as the 1922 Committee, formally announced a confidence vote in May would take place that evening.

Except the letter referred to Sir Graham as the “chairmam”.

The parallels between the Conservative Party going back on their decision to elect May as leader in 2016 and calls for a second referendum were not lost on many.

Others had predictions about the potential candidates should there be a leadership election.

And some brought up the classic tweet from David Cameron in the 2015 general election campaign, in which he promised “stability and strong government” before holding the Brexit vote.

Mr Cameron even came out in support of Mrs May but was promptly told where to go by his political opponents – the £25,000 garden shed the former PM bought as a place to write his memoirs being perhaps the safest option.

Despite the drama, Mrs May eventually won the vote with 200 of the 317 Conservative MPs voting in her favour.

Arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the leading voices to remove May, spent much of Thursday morning protesting the result and was roundly mocked for perceived hypocrisy by gleeful Remain voters.

As Thursday evening rolled around, some in Government tried to get into the festive spirit and forget about the pressures.

Michael Gove, in particular, appeared to be enjoying the festivities as he was filmed dancing Gangnam Style with former Labour minister Ed Balls at what appeared to be the Defra Christmas bash.

As most of the country dragged itself wearily into Friday, Mrs May was shuttled back to Brussels for the unforgiving task of a European Commission summit on Brexit.

Footage quickly circulated of what appeared to be a heated exchange between the Prime Minister and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker as the leaders took their seats.

Lip readers eventually figured out that Mrs May was challenging Mr Juncker over his description of the UK’s position as “nebulous”, but this did nothing to stop the jokes.

Ultimately, European leaders restated their commitment to the original deal, refusing to renegotiate, leaving May back where she began at the start of the week.

With a fresh vote on her Brexit deal due in the new year and all the possible outcomes still on the table, the summit and another exhausting Westminster week drew to a close.

Press Association

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