EU Referendum: Tracking update

May 03, 2016 by Leela Bozonelis

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave?  The debate and looming EU referendum, to be held on Thursday 23 June, has dominated headlines in recent weeks.  But which campaign has gained most momentum?  To identify which of the opposing sides has secured a more prominent media presence, LexisNexis has been tracking coverage since the early stages of the debate by monitoring three key elements; 'Coverage over time', 'Share of Voice' and 'Article Sentiment'.

In vs Out

In the past week the LexisNexis political media tracker has shown significant media profile for the Remain campaign in the British media.  The tracker has showcased fluctuations in media attention across both campaigns for the EU referendum, as the opposing sides continue to debate and divide public opinion.  However, recent media profile numbers show the Remain campaign is dominating both media coverage volume and share of voice, eclipsing exposure given to the Brexit campaign. The Remain campaign's media profile has grown significantly this week– but what is behind the amplified support?

The Obama effect

Last week US President Barack Obama visited the UK and voiced his strong opinions on the EU Referendum, both in a Telegraph article and then, more explicitly, in person.  In statements met with controversy, Obama explained that America has no intention of forming a new, closer relationship with a Brexited Britain.  The President defined a post-EU UK as being at "the back of the queue" if it sought to agree a trade treaty with the US outside the EU.

Obama's visit and support for the Remain campaign, saw a notable spike in Remain media coverage.  Media outlets reported on the threat of severe economic loss and the indication that a new trade treaty could take up to ten years to secure.  In his public declaration Obama had crushed a core part of the leave campaigns economic argument: the notion that Brexit would reveal a simpler, non-European future.

The cost of a Brexit

However, Obama's visit is not the only factor that has contributed to increased media coverage in favour of the Remain campaign.  A recently published report by the OECD claimed Brexit will cost each Briton a month's salary by the year 2020; an average of £2,200.

The policy paper stated that even before the UK's formal departure from the EU, the UK would be hurt by weaker confidence and more expensive credit.

Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said millennials would pay the price of Brexit and EU departure would impose a "persistent and rising shock" on their future economy.

LexisNexis' share of voice tracker shows the media has focused predominantly on the referendum's effect on the British economy, among other issues including trade and regulation.  Immigration is the next most reported issue in the British media, a topic that is particularly pertinent with the growing concerns surrounding border control in Calais.
The issue of immigration was also raised in parliament this week.  Home Secretary Theresa May, who supports the UK remaining in the EU, argued that leaving would not solve the issues around immigration.  In her first major speech of the campaign, May said the UK had to "stand tall and lead in Europe" rather than leaving the EU, believing that the EU made the UK "more secure from crime and terrorism".  Addressing the issue of immigration directly, May commented that: "Free movement makes it harder to control immigration, but it doesn't make it impossible to control immigration."
In light of a concerted effort to pivot the campaign to the economic risks of leaving the EU, it will be interesting to see how the Leave campaign reacts.  Does it now try to regain the initiative by producing economic arguments of its own or focus on the immigration issue to try to generate additional column inches?

With the EU referendum approaching, the LexisNexis political tracker shows how media coverage is continuing to coincide with public opinion and debate.  The opposing campaigns and conflicting opinions of political leaders will dominate the media until Britain decides; In or Out.

For continued media monitoring and regular campaign updates as the vote approaches, follow the LexisNexis EU referendum tracker.Related blogs

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