Welcome to the latest edition of The Week on Twitter for Westminster HUB where we take a look at the week’s biggest political news through the eyes of Twitter. This week saw MP’s returning to Parliament from their Christmas breaks and both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were doing the media rounds promoting new policy ideas.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it was Brexit that dominated the headlines as Theresa May stopped just short of confirming she will not be looking to maintain single market membership. Jeremy Corbyn made a speech on Tuesday suggesting that the UK could prosper after Brexit and that he “is not wedded” to free movement of people which caused a very mixed set of reactions online. Prior to this, Brexit confusion was added to by the shock resignation of top civil servant, Sir Ivan Rogers, just months before Brexit negotiations begin.
May’s Brexit Plan Revealing Itself
Theresa May began the week by appearing on a brand new Sunday morning Sky News politics show. Sophy Ridge asked about her Brexit plans which surprisingly received a fairly open response as Prime Minister May went very close to announcing she would not be seeking single market membership from negotiations with the EU
Lead politics writer for the Financial Times, Sebastian Payne’s take on the interview was similar to many in that Theresa May was indicating quite a ‘hard’ Brexit plan. The Prime Minister indicated that leaving meant leaving, no elements of the EU would be left standing.
The interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday irritated the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats who accused the Conservative leader of being in denial over the pain being caused in the NHS and future pain caused by leaving the single market.
Of course Theresa May’s interview was highly positive to some on Twitter who saw her comments as the first step to a bright new future a long distance away from the single market and customs union.
Corbyn Edges More Pro-Brexit
On Tuesday it was Jeremy Corbyn’s turn to tour the TV studios and discuss his thoughts on Brexit. In a move that may not surprise some, Mr Corbyn sounded more positive about Brexit than he has done in the past. The Labour leader suggested that the UK could be better off following the vote to leave and also put some distance between himself and holding on to the free movement of people in negotiations.
It was fair to say that his media campaign did not go too well judging by some of the comments and confused messages about his interviews across Twitter. The political editor of Business Insider suggested that Corbyn had let down some of those who backed him as leader with his latest stances.
In a later interview Corbyn appeared to backtrack slightly on his new free movement stance and defended the principle instead while also suggesting an upper wage cap and intimating that he would join the picket line against Southern Rail.
Politics Home editor, Kevin Schofield, was another of the confused commenters on social media as the Labour leader looked to change plan from the one that was briefed to the press earlier that day.
Some on Twitter looked to poke a little fun at the leader of the opposition who was always well known for his principles in politics which he was seemingly going against with his messages on Tuesday.
Sir Ivan Rogers Resigns
Just before politicians were due to return to Parliament, Sir Ivan Rogers dropped a bombshell on Theresa May with his resignation. Sir Ivan had been lined up to be one of the UK’s top negotiators with Europe over Brexit so his resignation was a blow to preparations. His resignation letter was a further blow as he hinted at their being little sign of a plan or strategy for Britain’s exit from the European Union and that his thoughts and suggestions were not being listened to.
Economist Richard Murphy hit back at accusations that Sir Ivan Rogers’ resignation had left Brexit plans in disarray but stated that the resignation was because the plans were in disarray.
Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and the person leading Brexit negotiations for the EU, was one of many to wish Sir Ivan well. Verhofstadt also hinted that Sir Ivan could have been listened to more by UK politicians and that he understood Brussels well.
On the other side of opinion was recently elected UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, reassured his followers that Sir Ivan’s resignation was actually positive news. Mr Nuttall insisted that the civil servant had become much too close to Brussels and therefore couldn’t have done his job properly in the separation of the UK and Europe.
In the coming week we will see Donald Trump inaugurated as the President of the United States which will inevitably make headline news worldwide before, during and after. In the UK Brexit will undoubtedly continue to dominate discussion as arguments over the single market and immigration heat up nearer to the invoking of article 50.
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