The British Right-Wing Mainstream and the European Referendum

Phillips, Angela. 2019. The British Right-Wing Mainstream and the European Referendum. In: Anthony Nadler and A.J. Bauer, eds. News on the Right: Studying Conservative News Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 141-156. ISBN 9780190913533 [Book Section]

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This chapter examines the 2016 Brexit campaign as a window into how the right-wing establishment press in the United Kingdom influences the country’s broad political agenda. The chapter demonstrates how right-wing news cultures of the tabloid press played a crucial agenda-setting role in the European referendum debate. The right-wing press exploited the Remain/Leave dichotomy and the BBC’s notion of “strategic balance” to frame the debate within discursive limits set by the conservative elite. The result further undermined trust in British broadcasting, while largely excluding organized labor from the referendum debate. This chapter also provides comparative fodder for scholars of right-wing news in the US context, as the EU referendum in many ways replicated the structural conditions that underpin the two-party horse race coverage common in US mainstream political reporting.

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Book Section

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conservatism, conservative news, United Kingdom, EU referendum, tabloid news, journalism, BBC, Brexit, comparative media systems, media bias

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Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


15 November 2019Published

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24 Aug 2021 09:39

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24 Aug 2021 09:40


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