An emotional plea urging Britain to ‘lead not leave’ the European Union by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the most influential pro-Remain video during the 2016 referendum, a former campaign official has revealed.
The video, which was viewed over 2 million times on the official ‘People’s In’ campaign, was the most shared video from the Remain side during the 2016 Brexit vote, with some in the campaign believing that the more ‘emotional’ style of videos could have prevented Britain leaving the European Union.
It was shared in the final fortnight of the referendum on Brexit, as the Remain campaign worried that a low turnout among Labour voters could hand victory to the Leave side.
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The video featured the former Prime Minister in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, where he said: “I’m walking through the ruins at Coventry Cathedral, bombed and destroyed by Nazi warplanes 70 years ago, and now painstakingly and lovingly maintained, as a monument to wars that we’ve left behind, and to the sanctuary of peace.
“In every century but this one, the nations of Europe vying for supremacy. In every generation but this one, our people dying.
“And now, a Europe at peace. A Europe where decisions are made by dialogue, discussion and debate. A Europe where the only battle is the battle of ideas.”
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Brown went on to say that Britain could ‘lead not leave’ Europe and paid tribute to the principles which he said EU nations shared, echoing his emotional pleas in the build up to the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, in which he played a crucial role.
The impact was revealed in a piece by Will Straw, who was a key staff member for the Remain campaign, and bemoaned the lack of further emotional speeches.
In the Guardian, Mr Straw wrote: “First, a new campaign will need an emotionally resonant message rather than relying solely on the ‘facts’.
“The former prime minister Gordon Brown came closest to finding this tone when he argued that Britain should ‘lead not leave’.
“His video from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral making this case was the most shared remain video on Facebook during the referendum. Unfortunately, greater use of this slogan was dismissed by our pollsters. They insisted that voters simply wanted facts on the economic impact.”
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