Leave campaign

Understanding Boris Johnson’s ‘retrotopian’ appeal to Conservatives

The election of Boris Johnson once again highlights the salience of nostalgia to the Brexit debate. This is more than a throwaway attack line, writes Paul David Beaumont (Norwegian University of Life Sciences). Drawing upon social psychology can provide the theoretical basis for why and how Johnson’s “retrotopian” rhetoric appeals to old, wealthy, and nationalist Brexiteers.

The election of Boris […]

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    Brexit behaviourally: which do you think is the bigger figure – £350m a week or £4,300 per household per year?

Brexit behaviourally: which do you think is the bigger figure – £350m a week or £4,300 per household per year?

The Leave campaign’s ‘£350m a week’ figure cut through to voters in the 2016 referendum, while the Treasury’s ‘£4,300 per household per year’ didn’t. Was the relationship between the two figures intuitively self-evident? One is six times bigger than the other. Tessa Buchanan (University College London) looks at some of the behavioural lessons that can be learned from the campaign.

Psychologist Daniel […]

‘We’re better off out’: Nigel Farage, the chicken farm and the emotional resonance of the Leave campaign

Nigel Farage set the tone for a great deal of the press coverage of the EU referendum. Discourses of Brexit, a new collection edited by Veronika Koller (Lancaster University), Susanne Kopf (Wirtschaftuniversität Wien) and Marlene Miglbauer (Pädagogische Hochschule Burgenland), looks at the different discourses used by the Leave and Remain campaigns. In this extract from the book’s introduction, they offer […]

Existential anxiety: how Leave and Remain became badges of self-identity

The division of British society into Leavers and Remainers has been one of the most disturbing aspects of Brexit discourse. Christopher Browning (University of Warwick) looks at how these identities have emerged from the deep and destabilising anxieties that the vote, and its aftermath, triggered.
Whether one is for or against (some form of) Brexit, it is evident that on all sides […]

Leavers have a better understanding of Remainers’ motivations than vice versa

Why did people really vote to Leave or Remain? Noah Carl (Centre for Social Investigation) examines four different polls, and finds that immigration and sovereignty headed Leavers’ reasons – contrary to suggestions that the vote was intended to ‘teach politicians a lesson’. Leavers also proved better at characterising Remainers’ reasons than vice versa – something which may be linked to progressives’ greater […]

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    Practice makes perfect: how the Leave campaigns dominated Twitter in the EU referendum

Practice makes perfect: how the Leave campaigns dominated Twitter in the EU referendum

Twitter was a crucial campaigning platform ahead of Brexit. Simon Usherwood looks at its use by campaigners and places their efforts in a broader context. He explains that since the 1970s, politicians did not actively promote the benefits of being in the EU, leaving it to eurosceptics to promote their own agenda. This focus meant that in 2016, those […]

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    Isaiah Berlin and Brexit: how the Leave campaign misunderstood “freedom”

Isaiah Berlin and Brexit: how the Leave campaign misunderstood “freedom”

The Leave campaign’s understanding of “freedom” as the absence of external constraints was one-sided, writes Alexis Papazoglou. The UK has autonomously decided to be bound by EU rules and so compliance with those rules has not made it a less autonomous country. Similarly, the freedoms that the UK gains from being an EU member are greater than those it is going […]