The article investigates the main populist and technocratic narratives employed in the campaign in the run-up to the 2016 British EU referendum. Based on a qualitative dataset comprising 40 selected speeches, interviews and other public interventions by prominent Leave and Remain protagonists and adopting the general orientation of the Discourse Historical Approach in Critical Discourse Analysis, the paper discusses how the language of the Remain and Leave camps bore signs of both populist and technocratic discourses. The key argument developed in this article is that while, at the most general level, the populist rhetoric was discursively appropriated by the Leave campaign (with the key narratives of the EU as a failure, EU as an oppressor and of anti-establishment fury) and the technocratic rhetoric by the Remain campaign (with the key narratives of the EU as a tool, the single market benefits and the withdrawal economic effects), the Remain side displayed a lower degree of narrative consistency.
Populism, Technocracy, Narratives, Brexit, Referendum, Campaign, Critical discourse analysis
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