As the UK heads into a climactic week for Brexit -- in which a Parliamentary vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s revamped deal may determine the survival of her government -- why does it seem that nobody is paying attention? Online interest in both the general topic of Brexit and its technical details is as low as it was over the holidays. In fact, only the observers likely to be most affected by a Hard Brexit are showing any meaningful online activity. Could it be that Britain is about to sleepwalk off the Brexit cliff? Here are three charts that explain.
1. The general public has lost interest in Brexit
The general online public is about as interested in Brexit now as they were around the New Year’s holiday, generally a quiet time for web-searching activity. Traffic on pages covering the referendum, the process, major players, and other subjects Brexit novices might look up has fallen steadily since the first meaningful vote was held January 15.
2. Even policy wonks appear to be tuning out
Attention to the technical issues at the heart of the negotiations between London and Brussels – the Northern Irish border, aviation, fisheries, etc. – is also holiday-level low. While the debate of these issues garnered digital attention throughout most of January and February, activity has waned since the beginning of March.
3. Yet the fear of Hard Brexit persists
Our only Brexit signals that are increasing heading into tonight’s Parliamentary vote are those measuring concern over cross-English Channel economic activity. Activity on web pages related to the flow of goods and people across the channel in both English and European languages are climbing. The European signal is moving upward more steadily, driven mainly by interest in ports in northwestern France.