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'Frankly, the British people need a choice': A Critical Discourse Analysis of EU News Coverage during the 2015 General Election Campaign

Anna Wambach

On June 23rd 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU. While the result was surprising to many, British news media discourse about the European Union already reflected some of the arguments, which would be made on both sides, long before the referendum campaign started. In this paper news media coverage of the EU during the campaign for the 2015 General Elections will be analysed. It will focus particularly on how the EU and the potential EU referendum were represented and how these topics were used to justify endorsement of parties.Combining Critical Discourse Analysis with Framing Theory, this paper offers a methodologically innovative account of EU representations in election campaign coverage in mainstream British media. Framing of the EU in context of the last General Election will on the one hand be grounded in the linguistic characteristics of news texts and on the other hand be connected to historical discourses about the European Union and its relationship with Britain.This paper not only contributes methodologically to research on EU coverage in British news media but it also provides an empirical account of EU representation during the 2015 General Election campaign in different media outlets. Furthermore, it links these results to pre-existing discourses about the UK’s relationship with the EU, arguing that the reasons given to defend the UK’s position in the EU were not compatible with dominant discourse and therefore weaker than opposing arguments which fitted into these discourses more neatly.

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