The reason why the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union can be expressed in three words: ‘Take Back Control’. The Leave side used the alluring slogan repeatedly and relentlessly whereas the Remain side never coined a simple and affective slogan. Leave’s slogan was vague and often masked an inaccurate description of decision-making in the EU. But in political campaigns what matters is not what is accurate, but what works.
‘Take back control’ effectively combined not just a sense of a positive future albeit never defined or elaborated, but also suggested a sense of rightful ownership. Moreover, it helped to mobilize the anti-establishment support of voters who felt let down by their politicians. The Brexit referendum, as referendums are so often, was only driven in part by the question on the ballot paper. Frustrated by the sense that the political class had failed them, many ordinary citizens took the opportunity to vent their fury.
Dr Tim Haughton