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Assignment 1: “Brexit: The Uncivil War” Acuña, Christian

Culture I Barna - 2019 Slevin, Olivia

Zablocki, Sonia

Before watching the film do some research on Brexit and solve the following items:
1)What is known as Brexit? When and how did this process start? What is the current situation?
2)Write a chart with the reasons why voters supported Leave or Remain.

Now watch the film.


3)List the years and events that appear in the opening scene.
4)Name the main characters and their roles
5)Around minute 20, why does Dominic say that holding a referendum is dumb?
6)Which are the arguments and strategies wielded by each side? Which groups supported each
7)Around minute 45 which different groups are represented in the focus group? Why?
8)In what way does Dominic change the slogan for Leave and what does this choice mean?

After watching

9)Find out why the film received negative criticism. Summarise your conclusions.
10)What is your opinion about the film? Which do you consider the most memorable scene?
Assignment 1: “Brexit: The Uncivil War” Acuña, Christian
Culture I Barna - 2019 Slevin, Olivia
Zablocki, Sonia

Brexit is a portmanteau of the words “Britain” and “exit” and refers to the United
Kingdom’s possible departure from the European Union.
The Brexit referendum was held on June 23, 2016, under the government of the former
Prime Minister David Cameron. In 2013, he promised that if his Conservative Party won
elections, he would hold a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU or leave. His
party won and he kept his promise. The Leave campaign won by about 52 to 48 percent vote.
The UK was originally supposed to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. The latest news about the
Brexit indicated that the UK and the EU have agreed a further delay to Brexit until October 31,
2019. However, this poses a dilemma as to whether or not The UK will choose representatives
for the European Parliament in the upcoming election meant to be held in May.

According to Forbes, the main reasons why voters supported Leave or Remain were:

● Economics: Opponents of the EU argued that it is a dysfunctional economic entity and it

fails to address the economic problems that have been developing since 2008.
Supporters of the EU argued that an alternative would be economic disaster.
● Sovereignty: Opponents of the EU argued that it takes control away from individual
nations, and there is a mistrust and fear of losing control among the people.
Supporters of the EU argued that it needs to be tweaked but not abandoned.
● Political Elitism: It was a three-way struggle. Two established parties wanted to remain in
the EU, and a third faction, drawn from both parties, opposed it. People in this third
group saw both of the establishment parties as hostile to their interests.


1940 - World War II.

1949 - Winston Churchill proclaims the need for a united Europe.
1963 - General De Gaulle says not to Britain joining the common market.
1973 - Britain joins the EEC (European Economic Community).
1975 - Britain votes yes to continue in the EEC.
1979 - Britain asks for its money back.
1988 - Britain complains about the power of EEC (frontiers of the state imposed at a European
1992 - Britain suspends its membership of the European Exchange Mechanism.
1997 - David Cameron claims he is going to form a majority conservative government.
2015 - David Cameron holds the referendum of Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Assignment 1: “Brexit: The Uncivil War” Acuña, Christian
Culture I Barna - 2019 Slevin, Olivia
Zablocki, Sonia

4) Some of the main characters that appeared in the film were:

1. David Cameron - The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who held the referendum.
2. Dominic Cummings - Campaign director of “Vote Leave”.
3. Douglas Carswell - UKIP’s only Member of Parliament. Supporter of “Vote Leave”
4. Matthew Elliott - Political lobbyist. Chief Executive of “Vote Leave”.
5. Victoria Woodcock - Company secretary of “Vote Leave”.
6. Daniel Hannan - Conservative Member of the European Parliament. Board member of
“Vote Leave”.
7. Arron Banks - UKIP donor. He bankrolled “Leave.EU”.
8. Nigel Farage - Former UKIP leader. Key figurehead of “Leave.EU”.
9. Lucy Thomas - Pro-Europe lobbyist. Member of “Britain Stronger in Europe”.
10. Will Straw - Campaign director of “Britain Stronger in Europe”.
11. Ryan Coetzee - Director of strategy of “Britain Stronger in Europe”.
12. Craig Oliver - Government’s Communications Director. Supporter of “Britain Stronger in
13. Andrew Cooper - Chief pollster of “Britain Stronger in Europe”.
14. Robert Mercer - Businessman who is linked to data mining companies AggregateIQ
(connected to “Vote Leave”) and Cambridge Analytica (connected to “Leave.EU”).
15. AggregateIQ - Canadian company which provided voters’ personal data to “Vote Leave”.
16. Cambridge Analytica - British company which provided voters’ personal data to
17. Michael Gove - Secretary of State for Justice. Co-convener of “Vote Leave” campaign
18. Boris Johnson - Mayor of London. Key figurehead of “Vote Leave”.
Gisela Stuart - Chairman of “Vote Leave” board and co-convener of the “Vote Leave”
campaign committee.

Dominic Cummings said the Referendum was dumb because, according to him, it is the
worst way to decide anything. It is something divisive that pretends to turn complex choices into
simple binaries: red or blue, black and white. He says that there are more sophisticated ways to
make political change and reform. He wants to “hack” the political system in order to work for
Assignment 1: “Brexit: The Uncivil War” Acuña, Christian
Culture I Barna - 2019 Slevin, Olivia
Zablocki, Sonia

“Great Britain, strong in Europe” is supported by the 1° Minister, Jeremy Corbyn and
almost all of the mainstream political parties. Their argument is that they should repeat what
Clinton did in 1992, which according to them, was the best campaign ever. The strategy
involved focusing on the economy and defining the opponent as a riskier option by promoting
the idea that even when the “change” candidate does better in the surveys, the day of the
election “the nerves kick” and voters go back to center. If the statu quo goes ahead before the
campaign, it will win on the date. Their strategy also lays emphasis on focus groups to find out
who the voters are to segment and target them, and focus on those who are undecided.
“Vote Leave” is supported by 6 cabinet ministers and 140 conservatives parliaments.
Their argument was influenced by Sun Tzu’s ​The art of war​, which means that if they fight in the
opponent's home terrain, then the competitors will win, so their strategy is to lead them to 9th
Battlefield, a “deadly ground” in which no one expects to find themselves, so they would perish.
They want to make the competitors the riskier option because they think that staying is riskier
than leaving: they will lose more than what they would win. They want the statu quo to return to
Independence. They also focused on the economy and jobs because they are interested in the
votant population that want to leave but are concerned about the effects on the living quality, so
their strategy is to appeal to these people’s emotions, aspirations and fears in order to bring
them to their side.

7) The different groups that are represented in the focus group are:

● Ardent Internationalists (which are the 11% of the votant population): they support gay
marriage, degree educated. They are going to vote staying no matter what.
● EU Hostiles (11%): Generally retired, mortgage free, 98% white. Won’t change their
minds about staying.
● Comfortable Europhiles (18%): Owners of their homes, they get the news from the BBC.
They probably would vote staying.
● Strong Sceptics (21%): ​Lower middle class, generally 55 years old or more, basic
educated. They probably leave.

8) Dominic applies a concept he identifies as “message discipline” which means that the
campaign should consist of a simple message repeated over and over. He creates the slogan
“take control” after conducting an unusual research (he talks casually to people while playing in
a pub). He decides to change it by adding the word “back” after reading a parenting book. He
explains that taking something back means that it was essentially yours and that it belonged to
you and it was taken from you. Thus, he pours into the slogan for “leave” the historical baggage
of the relationship between the Continent and the British Isles. The ideas people have about
past times often work against the idea of progress, but in this case they work in favour of it
because of the underlying concept that the EU is holding the UK back.
Assignment 1: “Brexit: The Uncivil War” Acuña, Christian
Culture I Barna - 2019 Slevin, Olivia
Zablocki, Sonia

After watching

9) According to ​The New York Times​, “Brexit is dividing Britain. So is a Brexit movie”, which
means that the show’s making was unusually fraught, plagued by the leaks, squabbles and
contradictory briefings that also characterize British politics. In agreement with this, Stephen
Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist and a vocal supporter of Brexit, branded an
early draft of the movie “a clown show” and “a comic-book fantasy”. Everyone questioned its
truthfulness because, among other things, Cumberbatch says in the film that ​Everyone knows
who won, but not everyone knows how and how is still a matter of controversy. Carole
Cadwalladr, a british journalist who has conducted extensive investigations into the finances of
the “Leave” campaign, said on ​Twitter that ​HBO was “literally interfering in our criminal justice
system”. Other questioned the timing and legitimacy of a drama about a political event which is,
to use TV parlance, still several month from its season finale.
The Guardian also made a negative review. It claims that the main, motivating thesis of
Brexit: The Uncivil War was that nobody got the right information to the right people in the right
way, or fully recognised it as their job to make sure this happened. And when that is a drama’s
thesis, a heavy duty hangs on the writer, which in this case is James Graham. It is incumbent
upon him, in an era besieged and almost defined by misinformation, not to add to the chaos.

10) We found the film enlightening because of the way the design of political campaigns is
portrayed. The most memorable scene for us, is the one in which Dominic, changes the slogan
which had already been printed on a poster, and he smiles. On this scene we can see how
everything that happened before, and Dominic´s unusual methods add up to this realization
about the campaign and how to use people’s feelings in their advantage. Whether historically
accurate or romanticized fiction, the film inspired us to find out more about Brexit and its impact
on the Culture of the UK.
Assignment 1: “Brexit: The Uncivil War” Acuña, Christian
Culture I Barna - 2019 Slevin, Olivia
Zablocki, Sonia


About Brexit
● https://www.vox.com/world/2019/4/10/18283027/brexit-news-uk-eu-questions

About current situation

● https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47889404

About Leave/Remain reasons

● https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmauldin/2016/07/05/3-reasons-brits-voted-for-brexit/#6

Members of “Vote Leave”

● http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/campaign.html

About the negative criticism of the film

● https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/arts/television/brexit-the-uncivil-war-benedict-cumb
● https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jan/07/brexit-the-uncivil-war-review-supe