Anger more prevalent than trust over MPs on social media during Brexit impasse

Netizens showed more anger than trust to British Prime Minister Teresa May, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and House of Commons speaker John Bercow on Twitter over the current Brexit impasse.

The result comes by conducting sentiment analysis of the volume of tweets mentioning or replying to the three key political figures in the Brexit issue on March 13 and 14, the day and the day after May’s EU withdrawal deal was rejected by the MPs for the second time.

Click here for the interactive graph (it may take some time to load due to large data size).

The proportions of terms carrying the connotation of anger and trust in each individual tweet are calculated. Result shows that there were more anger than trust in the responses to May and Corbyn’s Twitter accounts as well as tweets mentioning Bercow. In particular, the proportion of anger towards May on Twitter remained high throughout the two days.

After rejecting May’s deal, MPs submitted amendments in attempts to solve the impasse on March 14, including one tabled by Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston calling for a second referendum. But Corbyn, a long advocator for another public vote, ordered his party to abstain from the proposal as now was not the right time for one. 41 of Labour MPs rebelled with some resigning from the shadow cabinet.

Bercow also faced criticism as he was accused of being biased after he decided not to include a proposal that rules out a second referendum as one of the amendments for MPs to vote despite being endorsed by over 100 MPs.

Netizens reacted to Corbyn’s move in different ways. The responses to Corbyn’s Twitter account on March 14 showed more trust than the previous day. But a slight increase in the level of anger was also seen.

Click here for the interactive graph (it may take some time to load due to large data size).

Similar pattern is found in the sentiment of tweets mentioning Bercow. Though the increases were more dramatic since he had far less mentions with anger or trust on March 13.

Click here for the interactive graph (it may take some time to load due to large data size).

The analysis also measures the total proportion of terms bearing anger and trust used in all tweets mentioning the three politicians. The responses to May on Twitter had the greatest level of anger among the three MPs with terms bearing anger accounting for over 19% of the total sentimental terms used. Bercow came second with 18%, while the responses to Corbyn had just below 18%.

Tweets mentioning Bercow showed the higher level of trust with 6.3% of its sentimental terms expressing faith. Around 5% of the sentimental terms bore the emotion of trust in the responses to both May and Corbyn on Twitter.

Corbyn is the most active Twitter user among the three with over 1.9 million followers and 11,400 tweets, and May has tweeted over 1,400 posts and accumulated around 787,000 followers. Bercow does not have a Twitter account.

Implementation with R

This implementation is done with R and the Twitter API.

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