Andrea Leadsom: 'Jane Austen among greatest living authors'

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Andrea Leadsom's Jane Austen slip

'For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them on Twitter?' novelist Jane Austen (almost) wrote in Pride and Prejudice.

Andrea Leadsom's accidental reference to Austen as "one of our greatest living authors" has sparked a barrage of social media merriment.

The Conservative MP was speaking in parliament to welcome a new plastic £10 note featuring Austen's portrait, days after the bicentenary of the author's 1817 death.

As always, the internet reaction has been as merciless as it has been swift. Ms Leadsom's name has been mentioned in more than 17,000 tweets, and has featured among the top UK trends ever since her slip of the tongue.

"We are currently moving all our Jane Austen stock from Classics into Greatest Living Authors," japed booksellers Waterstones in a tweet shared thousands of times.

"Thanks Andrea Leadsom for the heads up," they added.

Other social media users spotted an opportunity for political point scoring.

"Now Andrea Leadsom has established that Jane Austen is our greatest 'living' author at the age of 242, Tories declare her fit for work," joked 'Scoop Alley'.

'Scoop Alley' was having a lovely time. They had already used the slip-up to poke fun at Ms Leadsom's Conservative colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Image source, @ScoopAlley/Twitter

For some Leadsom's blunder was a eureka moment, an epiphany allowing them to finally understand government policy (though the BBC can confirm that Archimedes, whose bath in about 250 BC gave rise to the entire concept of a eureka moment, is still indeed dead).

"Andrea Leadsom thinking that Jane Austen is still alive explains why Tory policies seem like they're from the 1700s," one social media user tweeted.

Others were in a more forgiving mood.

Image source, @GlouthGraham/Twitter

By now, though, author Jonathon Coe was fed up with the whole thing.

"What Andrea Leadsom said about Jane Austen was a simple slip of the tongue," he tweeted, "like when she said leaving the EU wouldn't affect sterling".

Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell chose not to get involved at all.

Image source, @StigAbell/Twitter

However Ms Leadsom, fortunately, appears to have taken it all in her stride (and proves that BBC journalists are not the only people who can furiously google Jane Austen quotes).

Image source, @AndreaLeadsom

By Chris Bell, UGC and Social News team