If one used the conventional system for ranking countries for their Olympics medals haul, relying only on the gold medals, the United Kingdom was placed second at Rio 2016, behind the United States and ahead of China. And if one counted the total medals won by countries, U.K. would fall to third place, switching places with China. But hours before the United Kingdom’s Olympic contingent returned home, British MP Heather Wheeler congratulated them on Twitter for coming first.
Wheeler’s tweet, in a sweeping gesture, included all of the country’s “Commonwealth friends” in the medals tally and an accompanying image — titled “Empire Goes For Gold" — counted up all the medals won by the “British empire” as well.
Now that's what I call winning!!! Well done Team GB & all our Commonwealth friends, now for the Trade Agreements.... pic.twitter.com/Qg9qkYxWHp
— Heather Wheeler MP (@HeatherWheeler) August 22, 2016
Wheeler, a Conservative Party MP who campaigned for the country to leave the European Union, said the tweet, which also shows a post-Brexit EU medal tally, was meant to be a joke in response to an earlier EU tweet that showed the bloc winning maximum medals during the just-concluded tournament.
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) August 22, 2016
But evidently, a lot of people failed to see the humor in Wheeler’s joke.
— Crimes of Britain (@crimesofbrits) August 22, 2016
. @HeatherWheeler What an offensive, insensitive & ignorant comment. There's no empire; when there was we behaved appallingly. Shame on you!
— Jan Smith (@JanJancsmith) August 22, 2016
@HeatherWheeler The British Empire? Are you tweeting from the 19th century?
— Crispin (@SirMustard) August 22, 2016