UK press coverage of the EU Referendum


David A.L. Levy, Billur Aslan, Diego Bironzo

This report examines how the UK press covered the EU Referendum story, and looks at what the key arguments, spokespeople, tone of articles and areas of focus were during the referendum. The report is based on analysis of two days of press coverage each week for London editions of nine national newspapers over 4 months of the campaign.

Of the 2378 articles analysed which were focused on the referendum 41% were pro leave as against 27% pro-remain. Press coverage focused heavily on politicians and campaign spokespeople with relatively little few analysts/experts, academics and foreign politicians cited, and with more attention to personalities and the contest than the issues The press reflected the generally negative tone of the campaign, but the Remain camp’s future focussed messages were the most  negative, particularly on the economy, compared to the Leave camp’s more positive  tone about a UK outside the EU.

View a presentation of the key findings from the launch event held at the European Parliament Office UK.

Read a summary of the launch event: PRIME Research & the Reuters Institute’s Media Analysis of the EU Referendum: Report Launch & Debate (via PRIME Research Commpro)