‘Brexit’: How it became a household name

Thursday, January 30, 2020

As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, new analysis has shown just how many times the word “Brexit” has been used in the House of Commons since it was first coined.

According to Hansard, the official record of all parliamentary debates, former Conservative MP David Nuttall was the first to use the term in the Chamber on April 3 2014 – more than two years before the referendum.

Now a staple piece of vocabulary in political debate, in the six years since Mr Nuttall’s statement, “Brexit” has been uttered in the Commons more than 24,000 times.

It was slow to catch on among MPs to begin with, receiving just two further mentions in the Commons in 2014 and nine the following year.

This changed in 2016, the year of the referendum, when the phrase skyrocketed to almost 2,600 mentions – and it has continued to rise ever since.

Last year saw Brexit hurled across the despatch box nearly 9,000 times and as discourse continued into 2020, the word was used for the 24,240th time yesterday by Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire.

Outside of Parliament, “Brexit” was first used by the press on January 23 2013 when the then-Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to hold a poll on the UK’s membership of the EU.

It appeared in a quote from MEP Fiona Hall, who was then the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament.

However, going back even further, the first use of the word “Brexit” anywhere in the world is recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary as taking place in May 2012.

It was supposedly Peter Wilding, founder of pro-EU think tank British Influence, who described it as a “sad word” in an article online.

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