The tabloidization of the Brexit campaign
Power to the (British) people?
Consistent with a populist script, evoking the people has been a nodal point in the discursive unfolding of Brexit and its legitimation. This paper focuses on the mediatization of the Brexit referendum campaign in a corpus of online British tabloids to address the critical question of how the people in whose name Brexit was (de)legitimised were discursively constructed and mobilized. The argument put forward is that the legitimation of Brexit was achieved through exclusionary definitions of the people and through strategies of fear, resentment and empowerment. This discursive framing points to the wider question of the instrumental role that a large section of the British tabloid press has had not simply in the contingency of referendum but also in the longer-term legitimation chain of Brexit and in its institutionalization and more generally in the historical priming of their readership with negative coverage of the UK/EU relationship.
Keywords: Brexit, populism, tabloid journalism, Critical Discourse Analysis, Media Linguistics
Published online: 10 November 2020
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