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.
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.
A vintage hour of British politics, that.— Tom Peck (@tompeck) December 10, 2018
10.45 news leaks that May will pull the vote at 11.30
11.00 Westminster evacuated by fire alarm
11.07 Delayed PM's media briefing begins. Journos told "vote is going ahead as planned."
11.21 Briefing ends.
11.30 Vote cancelled.
Text from Theresa May: “Gonna delay that Brexit vote. Call me paranoid, but I think I might lose it”— Elizabeth Windsor (@Queen_UK) December 10, 2018
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.
Imagine if he picked it up and found out Bercow’s Secret that the real mace was replaced with a chocolate one wrapped in gold foil https://t.co/bzCOMQvj8x— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) December 10, 2018
love the stages of this— joe (@mutablejoe) December 10, 2018
2s: I am a big brave boy
6s: I am v for vendetta
11s: I am he-man lord of greyskull defender of eternia
13s: my plan ends here I have not thought this through any further
17s: I will politely hand it back to a nice lady
19s: I will pretend nothing happened https://t.co/YzNtYfBLhD
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.
Jesus effing Christ on a stolen bike...— C J Thorpe-Tracey ⧖ (@christt) December 11, 2018
has there ever been a more painfully spot on accidental metaphor (never mind Accidental Partridge) than Theresa May getting accidentally locked inside her car, while Angela Merkel waits bemused in the rain? https://t.co/uhMESFbLaq
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.
Wait, so the tories voted for May in 2016, have changed their minds, and want another vote? Seems like a good idea I wonder if we can implement this elsewhere.— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) December 12, 2018
Others had predictions about the potential candidates should there be a leadership election.
‘The likely candidates to replace Theresa May’ pic.twitter.com/SHvycbE2fB— Darran Anderson (@Oniropolis) December 12, 2018
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.
This tweet is more evergreen than our Christmas tree https://t.co/4W0xJc9RqJ— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) December 12, 2018
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.
Back in the shed, Dave. https://t.co/c6q3whH4GY— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP) December 12, 2018
Despite the drama, Mrs May eventually won the vote with 200 of the 317 Conservative MPs voting in her favour.
BREAKING: Theresa May wins vote of no confidence, meaning everything is sorted and Brexit will be plain sailing from here on.— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) December 12, 2018
Oh, well done Tory MPs. Now you’re stuck with a party leader and Prime Minister who you know can’t deliver Brexit or an election victory. Excellent work. Pat yourselves on the back. #IfNotNowThenWhen— Julia Hartley-Brewer QC (not a QC) (@JuliaHB1) December 12, 2018
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.
Jacob Rees-Mogg should really resign, he only won his parliamentary seat last election with 53% of the vote.— Konnie Huq (@Konnie_Huq) December 12, 2018
To be used whenever we're told we shouldn't have a People's Vote:— David Schneider (@davidschneider) December 13, 2018
"So why have a no-confidence vote?"
Rees-Mogg: "Because what was promised hasn't happened" pic.twitter.com/KEOGKIEjXL
They never, ever stop. Votes against them, letters going in late- nothing matters to ERG. After the apocalypse, all that will be left will be ants and Tory MPs complaining about Europe and their leader. https://t.co/n3Jt04CjJe— Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtUK) December 12, 2018
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.
Stop. What. You. Are. Doing. pic.twitter.com/6yaM1IeKx6— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) December 13, 2018
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.
I’m a professional lip reader and she’s saying “it’s too early for a round of Jäger Bombs, Jean-Claude.” And then he says “fpshspghssfgppshshshs”— Ollie (@Olle7Ho) December 14, 2018
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.
a new sitcom called Absolutely Nebulous pic.twitter.com/EoAQE03Lnz— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) December 14, 2018
If May thinks, “Nebulous” is an insult, she’s best off not reading her Twitter-feed.— Mary Francis (@maryeffrancis) December 14, 2018
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.