How immigration is dominating the EU debate - allowing Vote Leave to succeed
Our insight showed that on the key issue of immigration, Leave left Remain standing. And, as a result, the UK would walk out of the EU.
The article below is an excerpt from the IB Times on June 7th, 2016.
Immigration is at the core of the debate in the campaign and on social platforms, especially as polls have shown in recent days, and is the single most important topic pushing the UK towards Brexit. Yet a close look at the social data shows that the debate is less openly xenophobic than you might think (or at least delivered with more subtlety than expected).
Social media analysis company Impact Social looked at over 73,000 social media posts (including forums and comments on open news sites) over the past week, revealing in the first instance that the sentiment around immigration is overwhelmingly against. At 48% the negative reaction to the term is double that of those posting comments in favour.
Yet rather than attacking immigrants, the research showed #Leave campaigners have driven the debate into one about the alleged outcomes of 'high levels' of people coming here - overwhelming our NHS, taking our houses and our jobs. While these tend to be opinions offered as facts, they resonate.
The #Remain camp seem to be landing few punches - while the accusations of lies and scaremongering are regular, few are making coherent arguments about the benefits of immigration (nine per cent making positive noises about the effect on the economy) and while they accused #Leave campaigners of discrimination, there was little coherent counter-argument.
There is no attempt to deconstruct the debate about the free movement of labour around the EU, an integral part of the whole institution, or the migration of people from outside Europe. Nor is there any attempt to understand the issues particular to the UK - an economy that is performing reasonably well, English as a second language for many, and the lure driven by our own soft power and cultural diplomacy efforts. There's barely a mention that free movement of labour also helps the 1.2 million Brits living in the EU.
For the #Remainers, immigration is entirely a backfoot issue, the conversation driven by the negativity of their opposition. Whether driven by invisibility, complacency, incoherence or even by the possibility that there is no argument to be made, the noise is outrage at 'lies' and complaints about media bias (well, the Mail and the Telegraph at least). A level of sophistication that would make sixth form debaters look ashamed.
And that is why we're standing by the door marked Exit.
The full analysis is available on request