January 31, 2020 4.02 pm This story is over 27 months old

Local Democracy Weekly: Tongue twisters and cliches – How language won Brexit

The language of Brexit has evolved over the past few years

“Brexit Day” is here and today will be filled with people telling us where the country should go from now, and how the healing of divisions should begin to take place. But how will our constantly evolving language affect that?

Over the past three years arguments have been constantly breaking out between Brexiteers and Remainers across the realms of Government, social media and real-life, but what’s been interesting is how the language of those arguments has evolved.

Watching from the sidelines it would appear that Brexit campaigners have utilised language more persuasively than their Remain counterparts.

Phrases from Brexiteers come to mind quite easily, simple and straight forward – Get Brexit Done, Take Back Control, Get Ready for Brexit, Surrender Bill, Project Fear – the list goes on.

However, try to think of similar slogans on the remain side and… well, you have Bregret and Regretxit, Bremain, People’s Vote.

It often comes across that the remainers who offer longer, less straight-forward – but no less important – arguments, just aren’t as certain of the risks as their more confident counterparts.

That’s not to say they’re wrong, just that the message takes longer.

It’s hard to get “Brexit’s a distraction from austerity, inequality and a creaking NHS” into a snappy short soundbite.

It’s also fair to say that Remainers have had an uphill fight because the impacts of leaving the EU they promote are often more depressing or bleak.

Compare the argument that leaving the EU “could costs billions” compared to Brexit “will enable us to make our own trade agreements”.

Another example could be “the EU has its issues but we’re better off in” compared to “the EU has issues lets get out”.

Brexiteers – even Remainers have to admit – have managed to put a heavy “positive”, if debatable, spin on their side.

But as time goes on, and more and more delays have taken place, the remain side have seen more and more fall by the wayside – Get Brexit Done, whether you agree with Prime Minister Boris Johnson or not – has been said by both sides of the debate.

With a year’s transition still to take place, and after that the inevitable future campaigns for us to re-join, it will be interesting to see how the language of Brexit continues to develop.

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