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Flamingo Brexit anniversary study finds Britain to be ‘a wounded and rudderless place’

by on August 2, 2018 in Latest News, Lead Article, News you can use, Nuggets, Research

Flamingo Brexit anniversary study finds Britain to be ‘a wounded and rudderless place’

Global strategic insight agency Flamingo’s report, The Illusion of Democracy, prepared for the Sunday Times, has found the country to be wounded and disillusioned.

Launched to coincide with the second anniversary of the EU referendum, the report, based on in-depth interviews with people across Britain (a mix of leave and remain voters, EU nationals and young people who were not old enough to vote at the time), it shows that the polarising jubilation, devastation and relief seen in the immediate aftermath of the vote has now given way to a more united sense of frustration, disillusionment and potentially dangerous cynicism towards mainstream politics.

Says Flamingo CEO Desirée Lopez: “Our belief in the democratic process has been rocked by Brexit and the wider global changes we are seeing every day in other democratic countries around the world. Whether leave or remain, very few Brits would say the government has handled Brexit negotiations well or that their democratic rights have been honoured. People’s belief in the political process has been broken, on both sides.

There is a realisation that they have been misled.  This has increased the public’s uncertainty about what next for Britain, their families and their futures.”

The report highlighted four key shifts in people’s views:

  1. From Britain’s strength to weakness

“The last two years have dealt a damaging blow to the nation’s confidence” continues Lopez, “giving a perception of being weaker, less credible and more unstable as a nation. Rather than the independent, robust and ‘better alone’ version of the UK sold by the Leave campaign, we appear as fools on the international stage, standing to lose much and gain little.”

  1. Political empowerment to disempowerment

One surprising benefit of the referendum debate was that it appeared to have energised us as a nation, giving us a sense that we as individuals had a significant part to play in shaping the future of the UK. In doing so it gave people renewed engagement in politics and the democratic process. Since then, the situation has stagnated; progress has stopped and the political rhetoric, with its complications about trade agreements, border controls and customs unions, feels irrelevant to our lives. The sense of empowerment has dissipated and collapsed.

 We were sold an emotional idea but delivered a theoretical one

People were offered a vote on intangible and emotional issues such as sovereignty, identity, democracy and inclusivity. These quite amorphous ideas were left undefined and unsupported, but nevertheless engaged peoples’ emotions, commitment and, ultimately, voting behaviour. In addition, social and heritage media was full of unaccountable advertising, making assertions and promises that were left unsupervised and unfulfilled.

The reality of the EU is that it is essentially the enactment of a rule book and therefore the subsequent extrication debate has centred on the technicalities of trade, business and infrastructure. These are not areas the public is expert in, nor should it be, and this leaves voters feeling detached and betrayed.

  1. Society has shifted from multi to mono culturalism

In the two years since the referendum, people view the UK as moving closer towards a mono-culture. With the exception of core urban hubs where multi-culturalism still thrives, people believe many parts of UK have grown more inward looking. Dialogue around resources has licensed people to interrogate notions of Britishness and claim it as theirs.

Launched in 1997, global strategic insight agency Flamingo’s clients include Diageo, Facebook, IKEA, Estée Lauder, GSK, Netflix and Google. Flamingo examines human behaviour with a peerless culture-led approach, assisting clients to understand and harness culture to drive change.  

Winner of 23 awards in the last 14 years, with several “Best Agency”, “Innovation” and “Best Agency to work in”, Flamingo garnered four awards in 2017 alone, including the Best Paper at Esomar for its work with Twitter.

For more information or a copy of the report, please contact:

Milly Liechti, Senior Marketing & PR Executive, Flamingo


T: +44 203 790 0464

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