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One of the bitter lessons that Remain campaigners learnt from their humiliating referendum defeat was the brilliant use of language adopted by leave crusaders, particularly that of Vote Leave’s campaign director, Dominic Cummings.
It was Cummings who came up with the evocative “Take Back Control”, mantra while describing anti-EU campaigners as ‘Brexiteers’ worked to create an image of swashbuckling buccaneers taking their country back. It harked back to an age of gentlemen pirates, figures like Sir Francis Drake, fighting for his Queen on the open seas. (It’s interesting to note that the FT has switched from calling Brexiteers to Brexiters, far less glamorous.)
Getting the psychology of messaging right is why soon after the referendum result, Remainer groups such as Britain Stronger in Europe which morphed into Open Britain, decided to rethink their entire campaigning. What emerged, according to insiders, was a conscious decision to be far more vivid and catchy with their own signalling, to use better buzzwords to foster a new climate of fear.