Twitter users have their say on Brexit: are we in or are we out?

| 24 May, 2016

With only one month to go until Britain makes an historic decision on whether to leave the EU or not, new research unveils an overwhelming majority of Twitter users are swaying towards the ‘leave’ campaign. 

On the 23rd of June the British public will vote to stay in or leave the EU. Either way, the decision will affect our lives, and the lives of our European cousins, for years to come.
Debate on both sides has been vigorous and in today's digital world Twitter has become one of the main arenas for both sides to influence the vote. All four official campaign teams have their own Twitter presence:

EU Campaigns

We can see that the Out campaigners have the definite advantage in terms of Twitter followers, but that only shows us part of the story. We wanted to get some insight into the Twittersphere’s general sentiment – are Twitter users more pro or anti EU? 

So we used Brandwatch to analyse the use of the four main campaign hashtags throughout April. These were #StrongerIn and #UKinEU for the ‘In’ campaign, and #voteleave and #leaveeu for the ‘Out’ campaign.

We then separated these by council area and minused the ‘Out’ mentions from the ‘In’, giving us a scale where the more negative the number, the more anti EU and the more positive, the more pro EU. Here’s what the data looks like.

The top five most 'Out' council areas were:

1. Bournemouth

2. Lincolnshire

3. City of Southampton

4. Norfolk

5. City of Peterborough


Meanwhile, the top 5 most 'In' council areas were:

1. Shropshire

2. Reading

3. Angus

4. Gwynedd

5. Anglesey

Influential people using the Out hashtags mainly include UKIP MPs and MEPs, such as Douglas Carswell, Paul Nuttall and Paul Quigley.

Douglas Out Tweet

Meanwhile, influential people using the In hashtags include Labour MP Chuka Umunna and businesswoman/philanthropist, Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

Chuka In Tweet

And here’s some info on the demographics of the people in each camp, in terms of gender, interests and career.


In Demographics



EU Out Demographics

One thing to bear in mind with this data is that it doesn’t necessarily reflect Britain’s absolute views. Only an estimated 19% of UK residents have Twitter and, of those, not everyone has made up their mind about the EU Referendum, let alone tweeted about.

Nevertheless, the data gives an interesting insight into the performance of the official referendum campaigns on social media. It’s clear that the ‘Out’ campaign has a much stronger presence, but how will this translate to real votes?

We’ll have to wait until the 23rd of June to find out!

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