Parliament's Vote

As MPs vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal, the stakes are high and expectations of passage low.

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Today, Members of Parliament vote on whether to approve the Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the European Union. She appears set to lose the vote. It is unclear what will happen next.

Predata monitors the digital footprint surrounding the Brexit debate and negotiations. Last week, we noted three trends to keep an eye on in 2019. Amid today’s vote in Parliament, here is an update on how the Brexit debate is resonating across the internet.

Five days before today’s vote, our four Brexit constituency signals rose significantly. Even back in 2016 on the day of the Brexit referendum itself, this did not happen. Each signal captures the level of online activity or concern of a different group with a stake in Brexit: “Relocation” deals with UK-based businesses and corporations; “Issues” is wonky, policy insiders; “Debate” captures the politicians and interest groups shaping the public discourse; and “Interest” is the average European or British citizen. That all of these signals rose together speaks to the importance of the parliamentary vote in the eyes of all concerned parties.

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Other digital indicators suggest people may be bracing for a no-deal Brexit. For instance, interest in fisheries climbed over the past week. The sector is a good gauge of concern because it is one that would be heavily and immediately affected by a hard UK withdrawal from the European Union.

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Similarly, leading into the vote, English and European interest in cross-English Channel activity  -- such as shipping, ferry and train services, and ports -- has risen noticeably. The value of the English-language signal in particular is nearly four times as high as it was on December 29. Presumably, a no-deal Brexit would immediately disrupt cross-Channel activities. Both Europeans and Brits appear to be seriously considering that possibility.

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