The social media site Twitter has become a new chamber for political debate but is also a place to find like-minded followers and link up to expand one's network. If you follow enough remain-supporting, second referendum-advocating individuals on Twitter you will have noticed frequent use of hashtags such as #FBPE, #ABTV and #WATON.
But #WATON (what on) earth do they stand for?
#FBPE was likely the first of the three to emerge and stands for “Follow Back Pro-European Union”. As well as including #FBPE in one’s tweets on Twitter like Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake does regularly, many Twitter users also include it in their names.
Some real gems in .@BorisJohnson speech yesterday. Like the line about 'if we leave the EU, we will no longer be able to blame Brussels for our woes'. Please don't underestimate your powers of invention Boris, you will find a way. #BREXIT #FBPE— Tom Brake (@thomasbrake) February 15, 2018
The goal of the hashtag is rather intuitive: users are trying to create a large like-minded community of individuals who want to either #StopBrexit outright or initiate a referendum with the option to remain in the union.
What about #ABTV? According to ABTV HQ, the goal of #ABTV is to vote for parties that support staying in the EU (like the Liberal Democrats and the Greens) in May’s local election, thus #ABTV stands for “Anti-Brexit Tactical Voting”.
And lastly, what does #WATON stand for? According to Mark Pack, #WATON stands for “We Are The Opposition Now”, in a sign that makes out that the anti-Brexit alliance believe they are the official opposition to the Tory-Labour pro-Brexit front.
But what will these hashtags achieve? At a bare minimum they will unite like-minded pro-Europeans, but at most they could make a difference in the offline sphere.
The Tories look set to lose out in May’s council elections, but who will reap more of a reward? Will it be Labour, or will it be the informal anti-Brexit alliance?