Tweets of the Week: Maastricht debate, Williamson, and enlargement anniversary

Weber snubs debate and does not speak, UK secretary sacked over leak, and 15th birthday celebrations for the EU clique.

Kicking off debate season, on Monday night the leaders of the various EU parties vying to become the next European Commission president took part in a live debate in Maastricht. All, that is, except Manfred Weber.

With just five participants the debate fell a bit flat reported Euractiv’s Alexandra Brzozowski.

Jennifer Rankin reported that the organisers of the Maastricht Debate were not at all happy about Weber’s decision not to take part.

Thomas da Silva Rosa‏ summed up what many viewers were thinking.

The answer Thomas, is apparently a Bavarian birthday party.

American EU Dude pointed out that Weber skipping the debate had been the main story and wondered if that was his strategy?

If so, he did miss a big audience…

Ryan Heath, one of the debate moderators, tweeted that more than 210,000 people had watched the livestream. https://twitter.com/PoliticoRyan/status/1123834894390579200

Keir Plaice pointed out to those claiming “the EU is dead,” that hundreds of young people also gathered outside to watch a live feed.

Following the debate, the Party of the European Socialists couldn’t wait to post that Frans Timmermans had won, based on a Slido poll and added “Would you guys mind turning up to the ballot box in three weeks?”

However as Jon Worth pointed out, the poll was far from scientific: “No one, not candidates nor journalists, should make any reference whatsoever to who “won” the debate based on the Slido poll. To do without referencing the absent security is FakeNews,” he said.

Which was of course, one of the topics of the debate. All the more reason for everyone to get out and vote in the actual election in a few weeks time!

Turning now to the UK, where for once we are NOT talking about Brexit. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May sacked her Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson after finding what she said was “compelling evidence” suggesting he was responsible for leaking sensitive information from the National Security Council.

‏”They say that all political careers end in failure, but this is bloody extraordinary,” tweeted Nicky Campbell. Talk about pushing the self-destruct button!

Graham Bannerman‏ thought it was ironic that Williamson was fired over “a security leak about something that was meant to be a security risk.”

The information Williamson allegedly provided to journalists was Theresa May’s plan to use controversial Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G network. The Chinese firm has been accused of spying, something a lot of people felt was equally deserving of an investigation.

Mick Twister’s always wonderful limericks encapsulated the row:
The Cabinet row over Huawei
Unfolded in quite a bizawei:
Theresa got piqued,
Said Gavin had leaked
And told him “Mawei or the Hawei!”

Nathalie Rowe said Williamson might be thick as wood, and bloody useless in his job, but she’s not completely convinced he’s guilty of Espionage.

Cue a lot of people saying “he wouldn’t know how!” On Thursday Williamson denied outright that he was the mole, but too late, he’s already been replaced as Defence Secretary by Penny Mordaunt, the first woman to hold the position.

Finally, this week the European Union celebrated 15 years since its last major increase

In what was the single largest enlargement in 2004 Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia all became EU members.

In those days, Europe really was a symbol of freedom, high standards, prosperity, modernity and security said Donald Tusk.

Michel Barnier said every Member State contributes with its history, identity and added value in building a common future together.

The Irish Foreign Ministry tweeted a look back at the celebrations.

Gareth Harding‏ said that despite grumbling from both sides, the ‘big bang’ enlargement made EU stronger and safer. And allowed Europe to breathe with two lungs again after decades of division.

That’s it for another episode. Join me again next week and send in your suggestions using the hashtag #EUTweets.

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