Gazing into the camera while you sit on a bed with no trousers on might, in another context, arouse certain expectations.
But Luke “Ming” Flanagan, an Irish MEP, was unaware his bottom half was showing as he beamed in from home to discuss agriculture policy on the European parliament’s official live broadcast.
Flanagan wore a dark dress shirt for his contribution on European Union farming subsidies but the camera angle turned his two-minute address into a cautionary tale about pandemic-era remote working.
“Thank you very much, Commissioner Hahn,” Flanagan began, after Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for budget and administration, gave him the floor. “Obviously at all times we should be trying to get the maximum bang for our buck.”
Flanagan discussed CAP subsidies and the pace of convergence but viewers may not have been focusing on his words. Interpreters who were live-translating the address into various European languages could be heard fighting back laughter, the Irish Times reported.
Since Covid-19 arrived the parliament has introduced a remote voting system to let MEPs cast ballots via email and join debates over videolink.
Flanagan, an independent MEP who belongs to the leftwing Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left faction, was beaming in from his home in county Roscommon in the west of Ireland.
Social media duly erupted. The politician, whose nickname is taken from the Flash Gordon character Ming the Merciless, later said he had just returned home from a run, was wearing shorts and inadvertently put the iPad settings on portrait rather than landscape.
He laughed off the mockery, the underpants memes and the new nickname, Ming the Trouserless. “Who could have known that my legs would be so popular. Should I get them insured?”