The "Brexit" Campaign: The 2016 referendum on UK membership of the European Union

The "Brexit" Campaign: The 2016 referendum on UK membership of the European Union
An IAMCR 2016 pre-conference

Conference description: This FREE one day IAMCR pre-conference takes place a month after the historic vote by the British people on 23rd June over whether the UK remains within the EU.

It is hard to overestimate how seismic the fallout of the referendum could be. A ‘Brexit’ would re-ignite the Scottish independence issue with a likely future referendum on the breakup of the UK. It would also precipitate a likely change in Downing Street, a reconstitution of the EU and its relationship with both UK and potentially other Eurosceptic countries, as well as global trade agreements. Meanwhile, a vote to remain in the EU would similarly cause ruptures in the Conservative Party, demands for renegotiation of the already renegotiated agreement, and a country no less divided on the issue of EU membership.

For communication scholars, the 2016 EU referendum campaign in the UK is also an opportunity to study the campaign itself. Here, the pre-conference provides an early opportunity to reflect on the referendum in the context of contemporary issues in political communication and campaigning such as:

  • News media reporting
  • Popular culture and personality politics
  • Voters, polls and results
  • Political communication
  • The digital campaign
  • The future: the UK Government, Scottish independence, the EU

The event will bring together some of the UK’s leading researchers in the field who will present early reflections on the Brexit campaign. Space will also be given in the programme to discussion and debate amongst delegates. We particularly welcome IAMCR conference delegates who are visiting the UK and would like to know more about a highly topical event taking place only weeks before the conference.

Location: Quorn Room, Charles Wilson Building, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Registration: Registration for the event is FREE via Eventbrite. Lunch and refreshments will be served. Registration is open now and early registration is strongly encouraged.

Date and time: Wednesday, 27 July 2016 10.30am-3.30pm


Session 1. The News and Political Communication Landscape 10.30-11.10 (Chair: Dr Daniel Jackson)

‘A very different story’: News media coverage of the ‘Brexit’ Referendum Dr Emily Harmer, Prof James Stanyer and Prof Dominic Wring (Loughborough University)

Session 2. News 11.15-12.15 (Chair: Dr Einar Thorsen)

The press and the Referendum campaign Dr David Levy (University of Oxford)

Newspapers’ editorial opinions: lacklustre support for Remain drowned out by tenacious promotion of Brexit Dr Julie Firmstone (University of Leeds)

Bending over Backwards to be Fair: the BBC, Balance and Bias Prof Ivor Gaber (University of Sussex)


Lunch 12.15-13.00


Session 3. Political Discourse and the Campaign 13.00-14.00 (Chair: Dr Emily Harmer)

Spinning and Winning. How each side measured up on the PR battlefield Paula Keaveney (Edge Hill University)

Policing the migrants: how Farage and co used the rhetoric of moral panic to swing the Brexit debate Dr James Morrison (Robert Gordon University)

‘Rejecting the present’ Hope and hate in the Brexit discourse of the over 55s Dr Darren Lilleker (Bournemouth University)


Session 4. Looking Forward: Reflections on UK Political Culture 14.15-15.30 (Chair: Prof Dominic Wring)

Some fundamental problems of British political journalism Prof Jay Blumler (University of Leeds)

 ‘People in this country have had enough of experts’: cognitive authority in contemporary political culture Dr Jen Birks (University of Nottingham) 

EU freedom of movement and Brexit Dr Sofia Vasilopoulou (University of York)

 Brexit: the destruction of a collective good and the future of Europeanism in the UK Dr Chris Gifford (University of Hudders eld)

 The EU Referendum as a referendum on the Tories and Labour Prof Thom Brooks (Durham University)


Contact: Crc [at] - Telephone: +44 (0)1509 228350

Organisers: Professor Dominic Wring (Loughborough University Communication Research Centre); Dr Dan Jackson and Dr Einar Thorsen (Bournemouth University Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community)