Truth, lies and figurative scenarios: Metaphors at the heart of Brexit

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This article studies one of the key-metaphors that has dominated British EU debates for the past 25 years, i.e. the slogan, Britain at the heart of Europe. The
discourse career of this metaphor up to the Brexit referendum shows a decline
in its affirmative, optimistic use, and a converse increase of deriding uses to the
point of declaring the heart of Europe irredeemably diseased, dead, non-existent
or rotten. We argue that these changes in the metaphor scenario of the heart of
Europe concept helped to entice the British public to integrate the information
supplied by pro-Brexit campaigners into a narrative of a dying EU, which motivated their voting preferences. Even statements that were exposed as factually wrong or implausible before the Brexit referendum were still accepted as fitting the narrative and thus considered as more reliable than unframed pieces of counter-information supplied by the Brexit critics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641–657
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number5
Early online date12 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Brexit
  • discourse career
  • Europe
  • frame
  • lie
  • metaphor
  • misrepresentation
  • scenario

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