A pro-Brexit Tory MP has sparked fury after firing back at the EU Parliament for sending a tweet that tried to count Team GB’s Olympic success within the EU.
The EU Parliament’s earlier tweet counted all the medals awarded to EU member state athletes - including the as-yet-still-in-the-EU Britain, into one tally that implied it had topped the medals table, showing the union in prime position on the podium, ahead of the USA and China.
After consternation by Remainers and Brexiters, MP Heather Wheeler tweeted her own version of the Olympic podium that took the biscuit.
Beneath the headline ‘EMPIRE GOES FOR GOLD’, she tweeted an image that divided all athletes into three categories ‘British Empire’, ‘EU (post Brexit)’ and ‘Rest of World’ - placing the “British Empire” in prime position.
She tweeted: “Now that’s what I call winning!!! Well done Team GB & all our Commonwealth friends, now for the Trade Agreements...”
Yes, that’s a map of the world behind it with former British colonies highlighted in pink, including the eastern United States that was made up of 13 colonies until they fought for their independence in the late 18th century.
One journalist called it “the worst MP Twitter content I’ve ever seen”.
Meanwhile, someone living in the world’s most populous democracy, whose time under British rule was not a happy one, did not welcome being grouped in to the “British Empire”.
One person questioned why the British Empire was singled out among now-defunct empires for special consideration.
Some questioned where certain countries would fall in Wheeler’s counting system. Which way did the Republic of Ireland, whose territory used to be in the UK but is now in an independent EU state, count?
But perhaps the most bizarre thing about the tweet is its supposed tally of gold medals bore no relation to the actual number of golds awarded during the games - 307.
A fair few people were offended by the labelling of former British colonies as ‘British empire’.
Many more people people were just baffled.
For all the questions, answers came there none - Wheeler has not tweeted again to discuss her defend her tweet,
But, amid arguments about whether it’s wise to cheerfully remind a swathe of independent states of their colonial legacy, one person was most offended by how bad the image she tweeted looked.