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Thatcham council leader criticised for 'Brexitvirus' tweet

'Misrepresented' comment about coronavirus branded 'disgraceful' and 'obnoxious'

Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook

Thatcham council leader criticised for 'Brexitvirus' tweet

THE leader of Thatcham Town Council has been criticised for tweeting about a supposed link between coronavirus and Brexit.

David Lister, (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) tweeted on Thursday: “What’s the chance of Brexit government minister introducing a deadly virus that disproportionately affects men aged over 55 on Brexit day?” 

In his tweet Mr Lister referred to British citizens evacuated from Wuhan province in China on Friday, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who used to be the Brexit minister.

Mr Lister tweeted: “Let’s say it’s called the #BrexitVirus. Step forward Dominic Raab.”

A flight carrying 150 Britons flew from China to RAF Brize Norton on the same day the UK officially left the European Union.

Mr Lister later tweeted: “I mean really, just what is the chance of this happening?

“It couldn’t be scripted.

“Raab has a lot to take credit for in coordinating this for Brexit Day.”

Former Conservative MP for Newbury Richard Benyon criticised Mr Lister, calling the post “disgraceful”.

Mr Benyon said: “If a member of my local party had tweeted something so unpleasant, I would have insisted on their expulsion.

“Time to bring people on both sides of Brexit together.”

This was echoed by West Berkshire Council’s executive member for the environment and Thatcham town councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham).

Mr Ardagh-Walter said: “Obnoxious and unacceptable, particularly from an elected councillor.” 

Mr Lister said he had been “misrepresented”. 

In a statement, he said: “Coronavirus is not a joke.

“It is a serious risk and people should be aware if they are in the risk group.

“The repatriation could have happened before or after [January 31].

“I just said, what was the chance of it happening on that day organised by the ex-Brexit secretary.

“[The tweets] have been totally misrepresented by a few people, who are claiming something that wasn’t said, for political mischief.”

Mr Lister has since apologised. 

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Article comments



    12/02/2020 - 20:37

    i hope he catches the CORONER VIRUS


  • grumbert

    07/02/2020 - 11:00

    Benyon's stance is hypocritical. Cllr Boeck in particular and McKinnon to a lesser extent have tweeted far worse things on a regular basis but both Benyon and the WB Tories have been deadly silent when Boeck and McKinnon post their garbage.


  • CommonHungerforder

    06/02/2020 - 20:39

    Does Vodafone have a policy on this? Just that's where I believe he works. But with #Brexit, he could have been drunk and should have turned off all communications before joking about something deadly/serious. It's one thing to say what you think, face-to-face, or in a pub, or field, but NOT on Twitter when it will have a life of it's own and records what and when you actually said stuff. And what is a 'full apology' as opposed to an 'apology'?


  • brunin the bear

    06/02/2020 - 10:33

    At least he apologised. The twat.


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