Panel 11 | Brexit

CADAAD2022 | 06-08/07/2022 | Bergamo, Italy

10 | Tamsin Parnell

Unravelling the Global Britain vision? International relationships and national identity in UK Government documents about Brexit, 2016-2019

In 2017, the UK Government revealed its vision for a “global” post-Brexit Britain – a foreign policy narrative that drew on a sanitised version of British history to project an internationalist future for the nation (Zappettini, 2019; Eaton and Smith, 2020). Despite emerging interest in Global Britain discourses (Daddow, 2019; Zappettini, 2019), there has been no diachronic discursive analysis of how the Global Britain vision shifts in relation to the changing socio-political context of Brexit. This study takes a diachronic, corpus-assisted critical discourse analytical approach to 502 UK Government documents published between 2016 and 2019 on the UK Government website. Through key semantic domain analysis (Rayson, 2008), it reveals changing representations of Anglo-European relations prompted by rising political tensions over Brexit. Focusing on the key semantic domain of Personal Relationships (Rayson, 2008), the analysis reveals a move from positive portrayals of a transactional UK-EU relationship towards antagonism and uncertainty. The paper illustrates that the increasing improbability of a stronger UK-EU partnership undermines the Global Britain narrative, threatening to position Britain as an international ‘outsider’ and ‘supplicant’ (Daddow, 2015: 75). The study concludes that the insecurity about the tenability of the Global Britain vision puts the UK’s international standing at risk, which is a far cry from the early promise that Brexit would reinvigorate Britain’s historical identity as a global trading nation.

Daddow, O. (2019). GlobalBritainTM: the discursive construction of Britain’s post-Brexit world role. Global Affairs, 6 (1): 6–22.

Daddow, O. (2015). Interpreting the Outsider Tradition in British European Policy Speeches from Thatcher to Cameron. Journal of Common Market Studies, 53 (1): 71–88.

Eaton, M. and Smith, A. (2020). The Use of Historical Analogy in the 2017 Parliamentary Debates on the Future of Post-Brexit Commonwealth Trade. Political Studies Review, 18 (4): 591–610.

Rayson, P. (2008). From key words to key semantic domains. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 13 (4): 519–549.

Zappettini, F. (2019). The official vision for ‘global Britain’: Brexit as rupture and continuity between free trade, liberal internationalism and ‘values’. In V. Koller, S. Kopf, and M. Miglbauer (eds.) Discourses of Brexit. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 140–154.

60 | Katy Brown

Towards a methodological tree: combining Discourse Theory, Critical Discourse Studies and Corpus Linguistics

Discourse studies as a broad field has demonstrated openness to incorporating mixed methodologies and perspectives to provide a range of insights into complex phenomena. This paper seeks to propose a new framework which brings together the diverse traditions of Discourse Theory (DT), Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) and Corpus Linguistics (CL). While there are some excellent examples of work combining two of these approaches, particularly CDS and CL (e.g., Subtirelu and Baker, 2018; Baker, 2012), and a growing discussion around the potential compatibility of DT and CDS (Brown, 2020; De Cleen et al., 2021), or DT and CL (Wilkinson, 2021; Nikisianis et al., 2019), there have been very few attempts to bring them all together into a coherent research programme. The aim here then, expanding on recent studies conducted using this framework (Brown and Mondon, 2020; Brown, Mondon and Winter, 2021), is to develop a detailed account of how this combination can be achieved and what benefits it brings to the field of discourse studies.

To do so, the article first establishes the methodological tree, an analogy used to represent the differing yet overlapping roles played by each approach in the framework. By visualising their individual contributions through the features of a tree (roots, trunk and branches), their interconnected nature is emphasised, reflecting the way their respective strengths can mitigate one another’s potential limitations. This more abstract elaboration of the framework lays important groundwork for the second section of the article, which focuses on practical application in discursive analysis. A flexible analytical structure is proposed which combines the values, concepts and techniques offered by each approach. To demonstrate the way this can be implemented in textual analysis, examples are drawn from a study of far-right Brexit discourse and the process of mainstreaming. It is hoped that this article can stimulate further discussion about the way that DT, CDS and CL can be combined, with potential for the framework to be refined and expanded on within the field.


Baker, P., 2012. Acceptable bias? Using corpus linguistics methods with critical discourse analysis. Critical Discourse Studies, 9(3), pp.247–256.

Brown, K., 2020. When Eurosceptics become Europhiles: far-right opposition to Turkish involvement in the European Union. Identities, 27(6), pp.633–654.

Brown, K. and Mondon, A., 2020. Populism, the media, and the mainstreaming of the far right: The Guardian’s coverage of populism as a case study: Politics.

Brown, K., Mondon, A. and Winter, A., 2021. “I’m not ‘racist’ but” - Liberalism, Populism and Euphemisation in The Guardian. Capitalism’s Conscience: 200 Years of the Guardian.

De Cleen, B.D., Goyvaerts, J., Carpentier, N., Glynos, J. and Stavrakakis, Y., 2021. Moving discourse theory forward: A five-track proposal for future research. Journal of Language and Politics, 20(1), pp.22–46.

Nikisianis, N., Siomos, T., Stavrakakis, Y., Titika, D. and Markou, G., 2019. Populism Versus Anti-populism in the Greek Press: Post-Structuralist Discourse Theory Meets Corpus Linguistics. In: T. Marttila, ed. Discourse, Culture and Organization: Inquiries into Relational Structures of Power, Cham. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.267–298.

Subtirelu, N.C. and Baker, P., 2018. Corpus-based approaches. In: J. Flowerdew and J.E. Richardson, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies. Abingdon: Routledge, pp.106–19.

Wilkinson, M., 2021. Corpus linguistics and Poststructuralist Discourse Theory: “A useful methodological synergy” or have I lost my mind? [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 July 2021].

62 | Sten Hansson & Ruth Page

Legitimation in government social media communication: The case of the Brexit department

When governments introduce controversial policies or face a risk of policy failure, officeholders try to avoid blame and justify their decisions by using various legitimation strategies (van Leeuwen, 2007; Hansson, 2015). While government communication increasingly takes place on social media, the defensive discursive strategies used by officeholders in these online environments have yet to be studied. Our presentation focuses on the ways in which legitimations are expressed in government social media communication, using the Twitter posts (n=1,869; 42,618 words) of the British government’s Brexit department as an example. We show how governments may seek legitimacy by appealing to (1) the personal authority of individual policymakers, (2) the collective authority of (political) organisations, (3) the impersonal authority of rules or documents, (4) the goals or effects of government policy, (5) ‘the will of the people’, and (6) time pressure. The results suggest that official legitimations in social media posts tend to rely more on references to authority and shared values rather than presentation of evidence and sound arguments.

Hansson, S. (2015). Discursive strategies of blame avoidance in government: A framework for analysis. Discourse & Society, 26(3), 297–322.

van Leeuwen, T. (2007). Legitimation in discourse and communication. Discourse & Communication, 1(1), 91-112.

83 | Laura Filardo-Llamas & Begoña Núñez-Perucha

Metaphor And Evaluation In Political Discourse: A Comparative Study Of Tory And Labour Speeches About Brexit

Following recent studies on the evaluative function of metaphor (Hart 2008; Charteris-Black 2005, 2019 among others), this paper aims at analys-ing how metaphors are used by British politicians to position themselves in relation to beliefs and policies, thus rendering metaphor as a powerful strategy to achieve political goals (Thompson & Hunston 2000). The attempt to modify people’s perceptions and social action is related to the two main functions performed by political discourse: interaction and representation (Chilton 2004; Chilton & Schäffner 1997; Filardo-Llamas & Boyd 2018), which are, in turn, related to the use of both referential and evaluative strategies (Hart 2010).

This paper analyses the evaluative function of metaphor in British political discourse about Brexit. Specifically, taking advantage of the framework developed as part of the STANCEDISC Project (Marín-Arrese & Hidalgo-Downing, 2019) and based on previous research about evaluation on po-litical discourse (Núñez-Perucha & Filardo-Llamas, 2022, in press), it explores the role of metaphor as a powerful tool for expressing evaluative stance and for constructing ideological positions. In this framework, evaluative stance is regarded as a social act expressing the speaker´s or writer´s alignment with topics, entities, social actors or events and realised in discourse by means of evaluative expressions, both metaphorical and non-metaphorical. In order to achieve these research objectives, we have compiled a corpus of twelve contemporary speeches delivered by Labour and Conservative politicians at party conferences. The analysis shows that similar metaphorical domains are activated by all politicians, but differences can be found in the metaphoric scenarios invoked and in the contextual construal of those metaphors. Those similarities and dif-ferences are related to the deliberative and epideictic functions of metaphor, which result in a strategic legitimisation of the political party’s policies and on a discursive appeal to party and social identity.


Charteris-Black, J. (2005) Politicians and Rhetoric: The Persuasive Power of Met-aphor. Basingtoke: Palgrave.

Charteris-Black, J. (2019). Metaphors of Brexit: No Cherries on the Cake? Basingtoke: Palgrave.

Chilton, P. & Schäffner, C. (1997). Discourse and politics. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.) Discourse as Social Interaction, Vol. 2. London: SAGE. 206-230.

Chilton, P. (2004). Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.

Filardo-Llamas, L. & M. Boyd (2018) Critical Discourse Analysis and Politics. In J. Richardson & J. Flowerdew (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies. London: Routledge. 312-327.

Hart, C. (2008) Critical discourse analysis and metaphor: toward a theoretical framework, Critical Discourse Studies, 5:2: 91-106.

Hart, C. (2010) Critical Discourse Analysis and Cognitive Science: New Perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Marín-Arrese, J. & Hidalgo-Downing, L. (2019). Stancetaking in Discourses: Epistemicity, Effectivity, Evaluation. Paper presented at the 43rd AEDEAN held at the University of Alicante (13th-15th November 2019).

Núñez-Perucha, Begoña & Filardo-Llamas. L. (2022, in press) From "roaring lion" to "chlorinated chicken": evaluative stance and ideological positioning in a corpus of British political discourse. In Marín-Arrese, J., L. Hidalgo Downing & J.R. Zamorano Mansilla (eds.) Stance, Inter/subjectivity and iden-tity in discourse. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Thompson, G. & S. Hunston. (2000). Evaluation: An Introduction. In Hunston, S. & G. Thompson (Eds.). Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Con-struction of Discourse. Oxford: OUP. 1-26.

208 | Mariavita Cambria

“My passport’s green”: A multimodal analysis of partition in political discourse

The 2022 CADAAD call for papers advocates for a reflection on the (new?) normal in CDA emphasizing how the disruption of norms may give rise to conflicts over shared social values. A case in point is post-Brexit Ireland in the so called “Decade of Centenaries” (2012-2023) characterized by an attempt on the part of the Irish government to encompass the different traditions on the island by remembering complex events (such as the partition) “appropriately, proportionately, respectfully and with sensibility” (

Defined as the “lingua franca of public memory”, commemoration is a difficult and controversial issue to tackle. Commemorations are primarily political projects whereby the state and its institutions mediate and order formal and informal collective memories and histories (Cambria, Gregorio and Resta 2016; Bell 2006). The centenary of the partition in Ireland has brought with it intrinsically and divisively political questions (Gibbons 2020, Eversheld 2018). The Irish border represents the intersection between three overlapping political entities: the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. While commemorating could never be “neutral”, the politics of the centenary of partition have been all the more highly politically and culturally charged in the context of Brexit. “Machnamh 100” is the title of an invitation from Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a series of reflections on the decade: machnamh is an Irish word encapsulating meditation, reflection and thought. But why is it necessary to commemorate this and for whom? Is there a grammar of commemoration? How can the discourse around commemorations be contested and reappropriated?

Halliday argued that the grammar of a language is a system of “options” from which speakers and writers choose according to social circumstances, with transitivity playing a key role in the meaning making process. This is part of how we actually use the language to “construe reality and to enact social relationships” (Halliday 2005: VIII). It also implies that the choice of linguistic forms is meaningful and may also be ideological inasmuch as language is part of interventions in and constructions of the world. Accordingly, a multimodal critical discourse approach to agency, transitivity and representation strategies such as the classification of social actors (Jones and Ventola 2008; Machin and Mayr 2012) is employed to investigate how partition terminologies collocate in a corpus of political speeches, statements and tweets given by Irish politicians in 2021. The aim of the paper is to show how the term ‘partition’ is semantically and multimodally displaced and contested.


Bell D. (2006). Memory, Trauma and World Politics. Reflections on the relationships between past and present. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cambria M., Gregorio G. and Resta C. (Eds) (2016). Unrepresenting the Great War. New Approaches to the Centenary. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.

Evershed J. (2018). Ghosts of the Somme: Commemoration and Culture War in Northern Ireland. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

Halliday M. A.K. (2005). Studies in English Language. Edited by Johnathan Webster. Continuum: London and New York.

Jones C. and Ventola, E. (Eds.) (2008). From Language to Multimodality. New developments in the study of ideational meaning. London and New York: Equinox.

Machin D. and Mayr A. (2012). How to Do Critical Discourse Analysis. A multimodal introduction. Sage: London and New York.

Gibbons I. (2020). Partition. How and why Ireland was divided. Haus: London.

287 | Daniel Hämmerle

A multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of UKIP's Brexit campaign on Facebook

The purpose of my presentation will be to discuss how the UKIP used Facebook during the Brexit campaign to create certain images of the European Union and analyse the role FB played in shaping public conceptions and influencing widely held opinions of the EU.

In my presentation I will examine the UKIP’s FB appearance during the Brexit referendum from a MCDA perspective. Wodak’s discourse-historical approach (DHA), with a focus on the discourse strategies ‘nomination’, ‘predication’ and ‘argumentation’, will be applied for the analysis of the discourse. However, a conclusive analysis of FB discourse requires a multimodal perspective. For that purpose, analytical tools provided by Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2006) socio-semiotic approach will be adopted as they can be applied to both linguistic and visual modes.

The multimodal analysis will focus on ideational and interpersonal discursive metafunctions (Halliday 1994).

Research Question:

RQ1: Which rhetorical strategies did the UKIP primarily use on Facebook during the Brexit referendum to create a certain image of themselves and the European Union?

RQ2: How did the visual and the verbal modes create a comprehensive, persuasive political overall picture?

Data Set:

My data set will imply the Facebook commentary and main post section of the

official UKIP Facebook site during the Brexit campaign, more precisely between the

15th April 2016 and the 30th June 2016. During this period, UKIP posted a total of 165 posts, 142 of which were directly or indirectly about Brexit and leaving the EU. I will focus on the UKIP’s visual and verbal self-presentation and the negative other-presentation of the EU and supporters of the ‘Remain’ campaign.

Major Findings:

During the Brexit referendum a major strategy of the UKIP was the construction of dichotomous in- and out-groups via visual and verbal modes. The verbal modes of the post used an effective pronominal system, combined with imperatives or direct verbs and ontological metaphors to elaborate In- and Out-groups. Visually, the positive self-presentation and negative other-representation was stressed by a coherent, polarizing colour system and a metonymical representation of the Union Jack and the EU flag. Nigel Farage embodied the ‘face’ of the ‘Leave’ campaign and the vox populi, Merkel, Juncker, Schulz and in particular David Cameron were portrayed as the detached elite, representing the EU and the loss of cultural and national sovereignty.

The analysis of argumentation in the UKIP’s FB discourse made clear that in the visual modes primarily the topoi of threat, danger and history were employed. Their visual argumentation was often intensified with a skilful orchestration of colour and sound.


Buckledee. Steve. 2018. The Language of Brexit: How Britain talked its way out of the European Union. London, New York: Bloomsbury.

Halliday, Michael. 1994. An introduction to functional grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Kress, Gunther, Theo Van Leeuwen. 2006. Reading images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.

Koller, Veronika; Susanne, Kopf; Marlene Miglbauer. 2019. Discourses of Brexit. New York: Routledge.

Machin, David. 2013. ‘What is multimodal critical discourse studies?’. Critical Discourse Studies 10 (4). 347 – 355.

Reisigl, Martin. 2008. ‘Analyzing Political Rhetoric’. In Wodak, Ruth; Kryzanowski, Michal (eds.). Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 96 121.

Stieglitz, Stefan; Dang-Xuan, Linh. 2013. “Social media and political communication: A social media analytics framework”. Social Network Analysis and Mining 3, 1277- 1291.

Wodak, Ruth. 2017. „The „Establishment“, the „Elites“ and the „People“. Who‘s who?.Journal of Language and Politics 16 (4). 551-565.