Twitter and Brexit: Old friends reunited

Prime Minister Theresa May signed her letter of notification to the President of the European Council setting out the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the European Union. [Jay Allen/ Flickr]

Brexit has once again taken Twitter by storm as British Prime Minister Theresa May signed a letter last night (28 March) launching the process for the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU.

Only a few hours later, British Ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow delivered May’s letter to European Council President Donald Tusk.

The reactions have been numerous, ranging from disgust to excitement. Whatever the case, there is still a clear online row between Remainers and Leavers.

On the remain side?

Those in favour of retaining EU membership are not hiding their disdain for the act of pen to paper made by May, who indeed backed the Remain camp all the way up to the vote that decided Britain’s future as part of the block.

Some see the whole process as a giant step back into the past (1972 to be exact).

While others are not afraid to hide their anger towards the decision made by the British people over nine months ago.

Researchers and professors, the majority of which supported remain ahead of the referendum, continue to voice their concerns that Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK’s research excellence.

MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who is the European Parliament’s point man on Brexit, reminded his followers that the EU must fight back against right-wing populism, hoping to feed off the high from last week’s 60 years of EU celebration.

Last June’s Brexit vote saw a disproportionate spread in voter ages. Some criticised the outcome of the vote, saying that older generations had no right to vote because they wouldn’t live to see the consequences. The majority of millennials voted in favour of remain.

The preconception that Britain has already left the EU just because of the signing of this letter is of course wrong, as Louise Ridley rightly pointed out.

The NHS has come out on top, their tweet getting the most engagements around the Brexit debate today.

On the leave side?

But Leave campaigners are celebrating this victory, as the process for Brexit begins.

The most used emojis on Twitter today seem to reflect well on the leave camp.

Nigel Farage, one of the lead leave campaigners during his time as head of UKIP, reacted very positively to the news.

Brexiteers also reminded us, once again, of the troubles that lead to spending five hours in the Brussels town hall to register as a Belgian resident.

What consequences for Europe?

Mainland Brits are pondering their continental futures…

Scotland’s future as part of the UK or the EU has been the source of much humour, even from the French.

Spain is already looking to claim back Gibraltar.

Looking to the 2019 European Parliament elections, some are already looking at what effect the UK’s departure will have on the vote. For example, as pointed out by VoteWatch Europe, the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) would lose its place as third largest party in the EP without British MEPs.

The World Economic Forum has pointed to the heavily intertwined economic relationship between the UK and the EU, stating that “they need each other”.

This is a “historic moment from which there can be no turning back”, May said upon triggering rticle 50.

If you want to see all the best tweets since last night’s letter signing, go to our tailor-made Twitter moment.

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