Brexit: International media’s ‘Shakespearean tragedy’

By Kerry Norman

For some, a day of liberation, for others a catastrophic self inflicted wound. Thursday 23rd June was the day the people of the UK voted to change the history of the country forever.

Media coverage, both nationally and internationally, heavily based around the impending vote.

Researchers at Liverpool Hope University presented their findings into three different aspects of Brexit yesterday at a conference.


Researchers included Noreen O’Sullivan, department of Psychology, discussing the individual differences in Brexit voters, and Dr Danny Rye, presenting his findings in analysing parliamentary debates. The final academic was Dr Anthony Ridge-Newman. From the Media Department, Dr Ridge-Newman explained his research and findings into the international reporting of Brexit.

In order to gather his findings, Dr Ridge-Newman analysed words and discourse of publications over the period before the Brexit vote.

One of the key outcomes of the research was that the remain argument, even before the vote had taken place, had been taken out of the foreground, including internationally.

The research included 20 global academics, based both in the UK and internationally. A book by all the researchers, including Dr Ridge-Newman, called Reporting the road to Brexit, will be published later this year with their findings.

Explaining the book, Dr Ridge-Newman told the audience that the locals of the UK (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Gibraltar) were broke down into chapters. Collective single market and EU countries were the following chapters, then looking further beyond the single market. Research found that countries further away from the single market were more likely to construct a narrative in their media, and focus more about how Brexit will affect them as a country.

Across Europe, media coverage portrayed Brexit as a crisis. Research found headlines around the world included:

‘Earthquake in Europe’
‘Goodbye to Europe’
‘A Shakespearean tragedy’

Papers even linked Brexit to a natural disaster. Research also found the Russian media had very little interest in Brexit, whilst Canada focused on its current deals with the UK and how they would be affected. Israel had a common narrative of immigrants and the anti-Islamic threat, whilst the research found Turkey reflected on its own leadership in the media.

Ridge-Newman is still conducting more research and his presentation was a representation of his work so far along with his soon to be released book. When asked about how much media coverage affected the outcome of the vote, this was the researchers answer-

More research is continuing into all aspects of Brexit as it unfolds, both at Liverpool Hope University and elsewhere around the country.

Reporting the Road to Brexit, edited by Anthony Ridge-Newman, Fernando Leon-Solis and  Hugh O’Donnell is available for pre order here: The book will be released on June 26th 2018, just over two years after the life changing vote.

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