Romaphobia in the UK Right Wing Press racist and populist discourse during the Brexit referendum.pdf (3.29 MB)
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Romaphobia in the UK Right-Wing Press: racist and populist discourse during the Brexit referendum

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-20, 10:59 authored by Petre BreazuPetre Breazu, Aidan McGarryAidan McGarry
This article investigates contemporary expressions of racism toward Roma in the context of growing populism in the UK. We focus on how and why Romaphobia becomes widespread in times of socio-political crises, especially during the 2016 referendum when the UK voted to leave the European Union. Drawing on content analysis and Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis, we provide an in-depth account of how Roma migrants have been represented in two British newspapers during the 2016 so-called “Brexit” Referendum campaign and subsequent vote. The textual and visual analysis demonstrates how racist tropes about Roma identity and culture are embedded into populist rhetoric, often taking subtle forms of expression, yet simultaneously manage to avoid accusations of racism. We argue that the scapegoating and demonisation of Roma migrants in the media contributed to shaping negative attitudes towards Eastern European immigrants and by proxy, to the EU. This plays out in a context of rising nativism and populism where Roma communities come to embody the perceived ills of the European integration project and are regarded as a threat to the fabric of the British nation. We draw attention to the danger of these representations which condemn an already vulnerable community to further socio-economic exclusion.


Romaphobia in the Age of Populism: A Study of UK and Swedish Media and Political Discourse

European Commission

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  • Loughborough University London

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Social Semiotics


Taylor & Francis


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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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Dr Petre Breazu. Deposit date: 19 January 2023