Half-full or half-empty? Framing of UK–EU relations during the Brexit referendum campaign
Journal of European Integration
GB : Routledge
695 - 713 p.
Framing, content analysis, Brexit referendum, European Union
This article analyses the political construction and politicisation of UK–EU relations by British parliamentarians in Westminster and in the European Parliament (EP) between May 2015 and May 2017. Using computer-assisted content analysis techniques and qualitative analysis of sampled speeches, we investigate how parties used frames and emotions in order to mobilise voters. Results indicate that the ‘Leave’ campaign succeeded in triggering sentiments of distrust and anger against the establishment and mobilizing voters while, economic arguments used by ‘remainers’ failed to convince citizens from deprived areas of the benefits of EU membership. Intra-party divisions were stronger among Westminster members than in the EP, but the visibility of the ‘Leave’ discourse in the EP was disproportionately higher to the number of pro-Brexit parliamentarians. Polarisation and values-based arguments are observed in the EP early in the campaign, suggesting that the process initiated at the European level and then migrated to the national level.