Less Than 1000 Brits Googled “What is the EU?” After Referendum

I’ve never seen such snobbery in my life. The post-Brexit condescension has been nauseating. The media, pundits, and academics have desperately tried to paint the Brexit voters as ignorant, backwoods troglodytes who only voted to leave the EU because they don’t like brown people.

Take this viral article from the Washington Post: “The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it.”

Leftists and elitists salivated over the article – more proof of their own intellectual and moral superiority.

Just one problem. The article claims that searches for “What is the EU?” within Britain had “more than tripled” in the hours after the referendum. Did nobody ask: tripled from what number? Well, when you look at the data Google provides, it looks like less than 1000 Brits made that Google search.

But the headline, “1000 Brits Google ‘What is the EU’? After Referendum” doesn’t have the same ring to it. It doesn’t fit the narrative.

The journalists at WaPo were using Google Trends to see the relative trends of Google searches – but that doesn’t show the actual numbers. Google AdWords, however, does show the numbers.


That’s right – for the entire month of May, “What is the EU” was searched around 8100 times in the UK. That’s about 270/day on average.

Well, if that number more than tripled, that means ~945 searches total. If you assume that the 270/day trend would have continued, that’s a whopping 675 additional searches in the entire UK. Virtually nothing. Not to mention, there’s no way to tell who made the searches – it could have been 4th graders in school learning about the EU for the first time. It could have been rural farmers who didn’t vote and just wanted to know how it would affect them. Heck, it could have been tourists in London who wanted to know more about the EU.

Regardless, it’s doubtful the people at WaPo care about the actual numbers. It’s the irresistible article headline that matters. Anything that makes opponents seem stupid and ignorant – regardless of the facts – that’s what readers want to see.

Thanks to Remy Smith for pointing this out

Update: WaPo got their numbers from this Google tweet. The actual phrase was not “What is the EU”, as the headline claims. Instead, it was “What happens if we leave the EU?” Well, those concrete numbers are even more revealing.

EUGoogleBrexitThat’s right – the May average is a whopping 1300 searches total – that’s 43 per day. Now surely, that number will haven risen in June. Still, let’s say it goes up tenfold. You’re looking at 430 searches. Can WaPo take down their article now?