SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts

Trump to Toblerone: How Britain googles Brexit

In the two years since the EU referendum was first announced, millions of Brits have turned to Google for answers to ...

Posted: Mar 28, 2018 1:47 PM
Updated: Mar 28, 2018 1:47 PM

In the two years since the EU referendum was first announced, millions of Brits have turned to Google for answers to their Brexit questions.

From requests for "brexit news" to queries about the future of Marmite and Toblerone in post-Brexit Britain, their searches have ranged from the predictable to the somewhat random.

As the UK prepares to start the one year countdown to leaving the European Union on Thursday, CNN used search data provided by Google and gathered from Google Trends and Google AdWords to look at how Brexit-related search terms have changed over time.

'Brexit'

In February 2016, then-Prime Minister -- and Remain campaigner -- David Cameron announced the EU referendum would take place on June 23, describing the vote as "one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes."

Google searches for "brexit" began to rise as the vote loomed, surging rapidly in the week of the referendum -- and falling quickly afterward.

Peaks in searches for "brexit" since then have reflected key milestones on the road to Britain's departure from the EU.

READ MORE: From 'titanic success' to 'Mad Max': How language around Brexit changed

Questions

Brits have turned to Google for information -- and advice -- throughout the process. In the days after Cameron's announcement, "what is brexit" was the top search question. "What does brexit mean" and "what are brexit pros and cons" also made the top five.

In the month after the vote, skepticism and concern about the future -- "will brexit happen" and "what happens after brexit" -- surged up the list of the most-googled Brexit-related questions in the UK.

But almost two years on, some people still seem confused by the term itself -- searches for "what is brexit" have outpaced searches for the other top questions throughout the process.

But the number of people asking any of these questions is still quite small. According to Google estimates, fewer than 10,000 people (and perhaps as few as 1,000) in the UK tapped "what is brexit" into the search bar last month. Rather than full questions, people tend to use key terms to search for information.

READ MORE: UK and EU strike Brexit transition deal

Search terms

Many of the most popular Brexit-related search terms in the UK haven't changed over the last two years. "Latest brexit news" -- or a variation on that query -- has been the number one search term for 17 of the last 25 months with the undying query -- "what is brexit" -- also featuring regularly in the top five.

High-volume searches for Brexit polls and odds in the run-up to the vote were replaced with queries about exchange rates ("pound to euro" and "pound to dollar") and house prices in the months afterward.

Other popular searches echo political events. "Theresa may brexit" surged as a search term after she became Prime Minister in July 2016 (and has made it into the top five most months since), as did "trump brexit" after his election as US President later that year.

Britain's controversial and pro-Brexit Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson features on several top ten lists of rapidly rising Google searches -- while searches for "david cameron brexit" plummeted following his resignation the day after the vote.

Legal and parliamentary battles over the Brexit process propelled "brexit court case, "supreme court brexit" and "house of lords brexit" into the top five searches in late 2016 and early 2017, while persistent concerns about the future status of people from other EU countries kept "brexit EU citizens" in the top five for most of last year.

READ MORE: Brexit is a mess because of giant political egos

Stranger searches

But not all Brexit-related searches seem quite so rational. Some of the fastest rising searches in the months following the vote -- "brexit toblerone," "titanic brexit" or "brexit means breakfast" -- seem mystifying at first glance. The culprit was usually a viral meme or a well-publicized rumor.

When the Sun newspaper ran a controversial story in March 2016 claiming that Queen Elizabeth -- who is duty-bound to be politically neutral -- supported Britain's departure from the EU, thousands of Brits started googling "queen backs brexit" and variations on that phrase.

"Brexit regret" was the biggest breakout search in the week after the referendum, suggesting some voters were already ruing their decision -- or perhaps googling for the deluge of stories being published about remorseful Brexiters.

In the months since, Google has seen a surge in food-related searches as Brits have fretted about the future of various gastronomic products.

As rumors swirled in the hours after the result that all UK branches of the Portuguese-style chicken restaurant Nandos would soon close, tens of thousands of sleep-deprived Brits started asking Google if it was true (it was not).

Similar flurries followed rumors that Marmite and France's Camembert cheese could disappear from supermarket shelves (didn't happen) and that Toblerone bars were shrinking as a result of the vote to leave the EU (well, they did shrink but not because of Brexit).

A series of verbal gaffes by politicians and commentators propelled searches for "brexit means breakfast" in March last year, while memes and a video mocking Boris Johnson's claim that the government would make a "titanic success" of Brexit drove searches for "titanic brexit" the following month.

More recently, an announcement in January this year that the Royal Mail would not be producing a stamp to commemorate Brexit spurred some Brits to design their own -- mostly satirical -- versions, promptly sending "brexit stamps" up the list of popular search terms.

West Lafayette
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 52°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 48°
Rensselaer
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Fowler
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 52°
Williamsport
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 43°
Crawfordsville
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 44°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 44°
Delphi
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 46°
Monticello
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 46°
Logansport
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 41°
Another cold one before we warm up! Patchy frost is possible tonight.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 730969

Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
Wabash354179
Adams341354
Ripley339770
Jefferson330981
White314354
Daviess297399
Wells291581
Decatur285492
Fayette280762
Greene278985
Posey271533
LaGrange266770
Scott266354
Clay260247
Randolph240781
Washington240732
Spencer232131
Jennings230149
Starke216654
Fountain212346
Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
Orange183654
Perry183037
Rush173425
Vermillion169143
Franklin168135
Tipton162845
Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
Benton98614
Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0416

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events