A Conservative Bexley Councillor has triggered a social media firestorm by suggesting that "Ireland could rejoin the UK" on Twitter.

Cllr John Davey made the comment earlier this month in response to an article published on the Daily Express, which claimed the Republic of Ireland will pump almost €19 billion into the European Union's coronavirus bailout while only getting €2 billion back in grants.

In his August 4 post, Cllr Davey said: "Ireland could rejoin the UK. We are much nicer people now and look after all sections of the UK. It would solve loads of problems".

It wasn't until this week however that the tweet started to garner widespread attention, with hundreds of replies to it being posted on Monday.

In a series of angry responses to the tweet, Cllr Davey appeared to double-down on his position.

News Shopper: The first of Cllr Davey's tweets posted last week. Image: TwitterThe first of Cllr Davey's tweets posted last week. Image: Twitter

"Utter nonsense, uk raped and pillaged both economically and politically .......uk is a pariah among its former colonies," one faceless Twitter user responded to the councillor's post.

"Is that why many of them choose to come to the UK?" Cllr Davey replied.

Another wrote: "No country ever rejoins the uk, 63 have left to date, not one has shown the slightest interest in returning, I wonder why that is". 

Cllr Davey responded: "Because we have given them a fantastic foundation of law, education, culture and democracy".

When contacted, Cllr Dacey told the local democracy reporting service the tweet was intended in a "light-hearted" manner, adding that he loved "Ireland and the Irish". 

"Obviously, this was said in a light-hearted way, as there is no chance of this ever happening for historical reasons. The fact that it solves many practical issues will not affect this in the slightest," he said. 

News Shopper: Cllr Davey responds to several commentators on his previous post. Image: TwitterCllr Davey responds to several commentators on his previous post. Image: Twitter

"I am a great believer that history is important, so we don't keep making the same mistakes, over and over again, but the reaction shows that history can also limit what we can do in the future. It happens in the UK as well.

"The Irish famine started in 1845 and was horrendous, but the historical baggage from this still has a large effect even nowadays, together with the independence fight.

"I love Ireland and the Irish, I've been there a number of times. Like us, they are a democracy and like us, they make decisions based on how they feel."

It's not the first time the West Heath ward member has courted controversy online.

In 2018 he faced a backlash after comparing the Mayor of London's London Plan to Nazi bombing, posting: "I have a question for Bexley Labour, how come the Labour London Mayor's proposed London Plan will cause the most damage to Bexley since Herr Hitler dropped his bombs on Bexley?"

In June, Cllr Davey triggered a similar online pile-on after he called plans to address racism in Bexley compiled by fellow councillor Mabel Ogundayo "a load of old rubbish".

He followed with a subsequent tweet saying: "The UK, and Bexley in particular, are the most tolerant in the world. You should worry about the Mayor of London’s failure to stop knife crime, much of it black on black".

News Shopper: Cllr Davey responds to other posters. Image: TwitterCllr Davey responds to other posters. Image: Twitter

It prompted Cllr Ogundayo to enquire at last month's full meeting of council whether the authority would consider "mandatory training on racism" following the tweets.

In response to her request, cabinet member for communities, Cllr Alex Sawyer, admitted he did "regret" the wording of the tweets.

"I think sometimes it is very easy to say things that perhaps we don’t believe offend people, but none the less they do offend people, and it’s not necessarily what we say, it’s how we say it," he told the meeting.

However, he ruled out introducing mandatory training.

"Do I believe that all members should undertake training? I’d like to think that members don’t necessarily need to undertake training,” he said.

"Do I regret the use of language that particular councillor said? Yes, absolutely...So I don’t necessarily believe all members should undertake training, I believe we need to be mindful with what we say."