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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
October 2024
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Book description

Were we talked into Brexit? And who is 'we'? It's impossible to do politics without words and a context to use them in. And it's impossible to make sense of the phenomenon of Brexit without understanding how language was used – and misused – in the historical context that produced the 2016 referendum result. This interdisciplinary book shows how the particular idea of 'the British people' was maintained through text and talk at different levels of society over the years following World War II, and mobilised by Brexit propagandists in a socially, economically and culturally divided polity. The author argues that we need the well-defined tools of linguistics and language philosophy, tied in with a political science framework, to understand a serious, modern concept of demagoguery. Written in an accessible manner, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to probe the social, political and ideational contexts that generated Brexit.


‘As important as it is interesting, this incisive book is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of how Brexit happened and what it is.’

A. C. Grayling

‘Paul Chilton provides a brilliant analysis of Brexitspeak as more than a passing fad by demonstrating its links it to fundamental rhetorical, cognitive and socio-cultural changes in British and international political discourse such as neo-nationalism, populism and post-truth ideologies.’

Andreas Musolff - Professor Emeritus, University of East Anglia

‘This brilliant book will help answer some of the crucial questions currently worrying democratic countries: how to understand and combat the lies and deceitfulness- the Brexitspeak- that led to the UK leaving the European Union in 2016; how to counter the shameless demagoguery, duplicity and untruths deployed by dictators and would be Presidents; and how to argue against those who aim to destroy democratic constitutions. It should be read by all those who wish to understand the language of liars and populists and learn how to combat them.’

Sally Tomlinson - Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths London University Sally and Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education, University of Oxford

‘Finally, we can understand and explain why Brexit actually happened. In Paul Chilton’s outstanding detailed analysis of the range of discourses mobilizing the anti-EU demagogy in the UK, the populist propaganda is deconstructed and illustrated, specifically in respect to Britain’s national identity politics. A must-read for everybody, scholars and lay-persons alike!’

Ruth Wodak - Distinguished Professor of Discourse Studies, Lancaster


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