The issue arose when Tory MP Robert Courts MP complained the iconic red, white and blue flag and had been flying upside down above Parliament’s Portcullis House for many weeks. At sea, a Union Jack flown upside down is a distress signal.
Mr Courts told the House of Commons: “I wouldn’t want to be seen to be too much of a stickler for these things, but the Union Jack above Portcullis House has been flying upside down for some time now.
“This could be a mistake. I doubt that the building has surrendered to anybody, but could we have the debate in government time as to whether in fact, the building is in distress or whether its the MPs within it that are in distress?”
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg described the error as “deeply troubling” and then scolded opposition MPs who suggested the Union Jack should properly be referred to as the Union Flag when on dry land as opposed to on a ship.
He said: “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The pedants are wrong, it is the Union Jack and has been referred to for many centuries.
“There is this pedantic but erroneous view that it should be called the Union Flag and it is used by people who are more pedantic than they are wise.
“I’m sorry that this has happened, I’m glad it’s been brought to the attention of the House authorities, I imagine that someone is, as we are speaking, going to correct this because I see the clerk of the House of Commons is taking action immediately and things do sometimes happen swiftly and I assure you that members of Parliament are not in distress.”
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The argument then spilled over onto social media.
Mike Selvey commented: “You have no idea how much this irks me. Some say irrationally so.
“Seen it all round the world, draped on stands at cricket matches.
“Had so many arguments about whether it actually matters. It does to me.”