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A Reddit analysis on the seven stages of Brexit

By Ryan Callihan

The dark cloud of uncertainty that no one really wants to acknowledge or talk about, is here. The Event Which Shall not be Named is finally here. Brexit.

There seems to be either a fear of the event itself, or a fear that invoking its name will break the spell. There is a different feeling in the air and we thought it would be insightful to see exactly how the conversation surrounding Brexit has changed.

We scoured Reddit for forum threads about Brexit, before the 2019 General Election, and after. We found about one million and two million words respectively.

We took this massive dataset and uploaded it to the Relative Insight platform for analysis, finding unique consumer insights about Brexit. Here’s what our Reddit analysis revealed…

Ding Dong Debacle

If you’ve been especially fortunate the past couple weeks, you will have not thought about Big Ben at all. Well, it was bound to catch up to you at some point.

There has been a ridiculous theoretical debate raging on about whether or not Big Ben should be rung the eve of the 31st, Boris Johnson and the Brexiteers have been going bong-kers about the merits of this banal display of nationalism, even trying to crowdfund support to do it.

They have not been successful.

Brexit insights - ding dong debacle

Redditors certainly found the Big Ben Bong topic hot enough to talk about. Our Reddit analysis revealed that conversation surrounding Big Ben after the General Election has unsurprisingly been a whopping 112 times more common than before. A side effect of the whole thing has produced some delightful rhymes, so it just goes to show  you can always rely on the British (the irony….).

Goodbye, and Thanks for all the Fish

Since the General Election, Brexit has seemed very real. People see no way around it, so many people are looking to (please excuse my French) GTFO.

Irish Passport applications have seen a 7% increase since 2018. The avalanche of applications has increased the wait time to around six weeks.

Phrases like “Irish Passport”, “Citizenship”, and “Movement” occurred in Brexit discussions 3.5x more than in the past. Many Brits are looking to get out and fast.

Brexit Insights: The seven Stages of grief

It would appear that the Brexit conversation follows the seven stages of grief:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Testing
  • Acceptance

Shock, Denial, Anger…

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

Before the 2019 election, a lot of the language was quite toxic. Families were torn apart, friendships ended, passport colours were debated. It was a rocky time.

Topics like Fear (shock), Dislike (Denial) and Anger were 1.3 times more likely to occur. There was quite a lot of fear and angst before the election, which should come as no surprise.


Bargaining did not occur as a topic, but we don’t need any fancy machine learning to tell us that. We had 4 long years of bargaining and deal making…..

…Depression, Testing…

But, after the Tory victory in December, the mood shifted to include more words related to depression, futility and discontentment. These topics were 1.4 times more likely to occur.

“Exactly, they voted for this. It’s what they wanted. I feel sorry they feel that way but I’m still disappointed in them”

Brexit insights - depression, testing, resignation


So, we have gone through the first six stages of grief. The inevitable is just days away. As we prepare for changes and contentious comments on Facebook this weekend, we will need to work on the last stage: Acceptance.