How a boycott of The Sun helped make Liverpool a Remain city

Copies of "The Sun" newspaper sit on a news stand before the EU referendum. Photograph: Luke MacGreg

Copies of "The Sun" newspaper sit on a news stand before the EU referendum. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images. - Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

A boycott of The Sun in Liverpool after the Hillsborough disaster helped to make Liverpool a Remain city, a new study has revealed.

Experts at the London School of Economics and University of Zurich found that Merseyside was 10% less Eurosceptic than the rest of the UK as a result of boycotting the newspaper.

The study found that most readers switched their newspaper of choice to The Mirror after it printed a front-page wrongly attributing the blame of the Hillsborough disaster to the behaviour of fans.

The study looked at the British Social Attitudes survey for both the 1975 referendum on Europe and the 2016 EU referendum.

In the EU referendum Merseyside voted for Remain by 51% to 49%, with 58% of those living in Liverpool voting to stay in the European Union.

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The researchers said that "the boycott of the most important Eurosceptic newspaper - The Sun in Merseyside as a consequence of The Sun's reporting on the​ Hillsborough sporting disaster - led to a decrease of Euroscepticism in Merseyside, which we estimate to amount to around 11 percentage-points."

The report continues: "Moreover, our results suggest that The Sun boycott in Merseyside might have decreased the leave vote share in Merseyside in the 2016 EU referendum."

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They added: "This study therefore shows that sustained media campaigns on emerging issues can have large, lasting, and ultimately, consequential effects on public opinion, and public policy."

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