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Tabloid Tales: How the British Tabloid Press Shaped the Brexit Vote

Simpson, Kathryn; Startin, Nick

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Nick Startin


This article focuses on the role of the British tabloid press (BTP), and specifically the eurosceptic press, as a ‘supply-side’ influence on the 2016 EU referendum. First, we focus on the BTP and its role as an ‘agenda-setter’ in shaping eurosceptic discourse regarding the UK's relationship with the EU. Second, we use content analysis of five tabloid newspapers – The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Express and The Daily Star to demonstrate the disproportionate pro-Brexit discourse prior to, and during, the EU referendum campaign. Third, drawing on opinion poll data, we show how this ‘bombardment’ approach influenced the electorate in the referendum campaign. Given the ‘knowledge deficit’ about the EU in the UK, we conclude that the BTP had a significant bearing on tipping the referendum vote towards Brexit.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2022
Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Journal JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies
Print ISSN 0021-9886
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 61
Issue 2
Pages 302 - 322
Publisher URL
Additional Information © 2022 The Authors. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies published by University Association for Contemporary European Studies and John Wiley & Sons
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


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