Media coverage of the EU referendum campaign was dominated by the Conservatives – and there are several possible reasons for that, starting with media bias, a lacklustre performance from Alan Johnson (who was nominally in charge of Labour’s ‘Remain’ campaign), and the fact that Mr Corbyn didn’t get a look-in until David Cameron flounced off, having worked out he was causing more problems than he was solving.
So Jeremy Corbyn – who still racked up more media appearances than anyone else in the Labour Party and convinced two-thirds of his party, and a larger percentage of his own constituency, to vote ‘Remain’ – ended up being criticised for not speaking up.
Meanwhile Theresa May – who said she supported ‘Remain’ – was in the party where the majority of voters wanted to ‘Leave’, and racked up far fewer media appearances. Far fewer.
What’s her excuse, then?
Corbyn has been lambasted by … many Labour parliamentarians and supporters for his contribution to the Remain cause. But, for some reason, the same criticism hasn’t been levelled at Tory PM Theresa May.
Like Corbyn, May’s official position was Remain. Like Corbyn, she wasn’t particularly vocal in her support for the campaign. Drawing on the CRCC’s research, you could reasonably argue she played even less of a part than the opposition leader.
May made just 29 media appearances between May 6 and June 22. That means Corbyn made over four times as many appearances. The difference isn’t marginal — it’s massive.
A possible counter-argument could be that May was not party leader at the time so wasn’t expected to be as prominent as Corbyn. But that didn’t stop Brexiteer Boris Johnson — he made 379 appearances over the same period of time. Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, and Nigel Farage all made over 120.
This isn’t to say that aggrieved Remain supporters should blame Theresa May for the result — or any individual politician for that matter. But it’s worth pointing out that the prime minister’s contribution to the Remain campaign was no better than Corbyn’s. It was virtually non-existent.
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