The LexisNexis EU referendum tracker will be tracking print, online and social media coverage around the impending EU referendum to give a real time picture of each campaign's momentum. It will follow three key elements, monitoring: 'Coverage over time', 'Share of Voice' and 'Buzz over time: In vs Out'. Here we leverage the Analyse function of the LexisNexis Newsdesk database of print, online and social media to provide real time monitoring and analysis of referendum reporting.
According to early figures, support for the leave versus remain campaigns sways between a fairly evenly split and a slight lead for the leave campaign. Following intensive talks with other member states' leaders in Brussels Prime Minister David Cameron wants Britain to remain in the EU and has agreed changes to the UK's EU membership.
Sixteen of the Prime Minister's cabinet stand by his decision, publicly declaring their support. The Labour Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats are all in favour of staying in. Supporters of the stay campaign argue Britain is boosted by EU membership; selling to other EU countries is easier and the flow of immigrants, most of whom are young and keen to work, fuels economic growth.
However, Cameron's desire to stay in the EU is not supported by all Conservative Party members. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced his opposition in the Daily Telegraph. In parallel with the key issues identified in LexisNexis' 'Share of Voice' chart – trade and sovereignty - Johnson wants to forge a new relationship based on trade and cooperation, with "less of a supranational element". Alongside other campaigners for Britain's exit - dubbed 'Brexit' – the London Mayor claims there are too many rules and charges imposed on UK businesses, resulting in millions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return.
Although public opinion appears to be evenly split, the media is seemingly anti-Brexit in its referendum reporting. In the past week media coverage has focused on why the UK should remain in the EU and how the leave campaign has no 'credible alternatives'. Despite public uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum, UK national newspapers continue to support their political allegiances. Publications such as the Financial Times and The Telegraph have chosen to highlight the dangerous impact a Brexit could have on the voting public; "Fears over impact on Ireland", "Arrangements used by non-EU members would lead to economic shock".
The behaviour of high-profile politicians is also continuing to detract from helpful referendum reporting. A fragile Tory truce was shattered when David Cameron accused Boris Johnson of supporting the Brexit campaign in order to further his own ambition to become Prime Minister, a story that dominated tabloid space.
UK companies have complained about burdens that came with EU membership – but in a survey of 700 businesses by the Bertelsmann Foundation, 29 per cent of British and German companies polled said they would either reduce capacities in the UK or relocate altogether in the event of Brexit.
Bosses at more than a third of Britain's biggest businesses have come out in support of the campaign for the country to remain in the EU. Asda, BT, Marks & Spencer, Kingfisher and Vodafone chiefs backed a letter warning of the risks to the economy of quitting the 28-member bloc. Trade has been identified as one of the key issues of the in versus out campaigns, and prominent businesses declaring they want to stay in the EU will likely influence public opinion.
With the EU referendum scheduled to take place in June, 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, follow the EU Referendum Tracker.