Welcome to the latest edition of This Week on Twitter for Westminster HUB. Our fortnightly look at how Twitter reacted to the latest and greatest events in the political universe. This week Parliament and the government, such as it is, got back in to full swing following the election two weeks ago. The big event of the week was the Queen’s Speech which formed the official opening of Parliament.
There was uncertainty about what might be in the speech given the Conservatives continue to be in discussions with the Democratic Unionist Party over a supply and confidence deal. Also this week there was a statement in Parliament from Prime Minister Theresa May on the reaction and ongoing efforts surrounding the disaster at Grenfell Tower which has so far cost 79 lives.
The Queen’s Speech
This week’s Queen’s Speech was highly anticipated following a dramatic election only two weeks ago which left the Conservatives searching for extra votes and seats to make a majority. As a result of losing her majority it was expected that Theresa May would drop a lot of the content from her manifesto. There was a lot of excitement and expectation among political journalists who were waiting to find out just how little of Theresa May’s plans had made the speech.
As many expected, the Queen’s Speech was a much shortened and dampened down event as just 27 bills were announced, 8 of which concerned Brexit. There was no mention of fox hunting, grammar schools, energy bills price caps or the fated dementia tax and social care reforms.
The reaction to the slimmed down speech was mixed, some suggested it was wrong to even hold it given that discussions continue between the Conservatives and DUP. Others thought that the host of dropped policies was evidence that voting matters and those who voted against those policies had made an impact.
Reaction then started to come in from other big political names with the soon-to-be-former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, along with Green leader, Caroline Lucas, giving their impressions from the Queen’s Speech.
The Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, also took to her Twitter account to share her disappointment at another policy area that was lacking from the Queen’s Speech. With no mention of environmental issues at all in the speech, there were many users on Twitter who were disappointed at this omission and critical of Theresa May’s decision.
Another interested viewer of the speech was the leader of the European Parliament in Brussels, Guy Verhofstadt. He decided to have a small joke and a jibe at the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Mr Verhofstadt tweeted that the Queen’s hat looked similar to the EU flag and said it showed the institution still mattered to someone in Britain.
Grenfell Disaster Statement
A week on from the disaster that struck Grenfell Tower in Kensington and following much criticism about her and the Government’s reaction to it, Theresa May made a statement in Parliament. She apologised again to residents for the slow and below standard reaction and support following the terrible event and outlined what has been done in the week after to support residents. The Prime Minister revealed that each resident had received £5000 for the immediate recovery which would not have to be repaid in any way.
The Prime Minister also admitted that what happened at Grenfell Tower was a failure of the state at every level and apologised again for her role in that. Some on social media thought that this was a big admission to make.
Earlier that day the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, Nicholas Holgate, resigned from his role following the criticism of the council’s handling of the disaster. He resigned saying it was “heart-breaking” what had happened and also claimed he had been asked to resign by Sajid Javid but this was denied by government officials.
In his reaction to the statement in Parliament by Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, asked why the Conservative leadership of the council had not resigned as well as the chief executive.
The biggest revelation that came out of the statement was the fact that it had been discovered the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower, blamed for the quick spread of the fire, is also used on up to 600 other towers across the country. This caused much concern and alarm online, with famous faces such as Gary Lineker getting involved in the breaking news.
The reaction to this news about the cladding and the investigation in to the Grenfell Tower incident will surely continue to dominate the headlines in the coming weeks. Brexit negotiations also started this week with European Union and British negotiators coming face to face for the first time, agreements and revelations from the negotiations may also make headlines in the next few weeks.
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