Online Trends

Brexit and NHS dominate online discussions in the UK, analysis of nearly 10 million posts reveals


Although three years have passed since the United Kingdom officially left the European Union, Brexit has remained the most-mentioned subject in online debates in the UK, while the discussion on the situation in the NHS had the widest reach. Brexit and the NHS accounted for 80 per cent of all online posts analysed and were followed by entries related to the economic situation – strikes, inflation, recession and soaring food prices. Knife crime is the last among the top-eight subjects.

The above are the results of an analysis of the last year of online discussions in the UK conducted by SentiOne, a European company with over a decade of experience in internet monitoring. The company employed its tools to analyse 9.75 million entries made by internet users in the UK between March 2022 and March 2023 on social media, message boards, blogs and comment sections of news outlets, streaming services and review websites. 

SentiOne’s algorithms analyse over 150 million posts, comments and other online activities worldwide daily. Enhanced with AI, the company’s algorithms have 96 per cent accuracy at reading the intention behind the text and can indicate the author’s emotion – joy, sadness, anger, disappointment, and even sarcasm.



Brexit: Johnson’s ‘legacy’ or ‘costly divorce’?

Despite three years since the UK left the EU, Brexit remained the most often mentioned subject in online debates. It was mentioned 4,284,167 times, with a reach of 11 billion views.

Brexit was most often described as a ‘divorce’ (17,778 times) from the European Union. Many people associated the withdrawal from the EU with significant economic and political disruption, describing it as ‘costly’ in terms of money, time and effort, and expressed views that it could have been avoided.

The second most popular context for discussions around Brexit is Boris Johnson’s ‘legacy’ (8,101 times). Unsurprisingly, political commentators from both sides closely associate Brexit  with the former Prime Minister who championed the Leave Campaign and subsequently ‘got Brexit done’ – the PM’s slogan, however, seems to be forgotten now.

Although Brexit dominated the discussions for most of the last year, there were two significant peaks – surges in mentions of Brexit in online discussions occured in July 2022 (when Boris Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister) and in the autumn, when the political and economic crisis caused by the minibudget coincided with the YouGov poll which shown that 56 per cent of the British public thinks that leaving the EU was a mistake. A smaller peak was also visible in March when the EU and the UK concluded negotiations on the new deal covering post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland. 

Hashtags associated with Brexit – #bbcqt, #generalelectionnow, #partygate and #brexitreality – depict not only the success of BBC’s Question Time in driving the debate about Brexit but also how divisive the issue remains almost seven years after the referendum.


Support for striking NHS and the cost of living crisis

With 3,571,864 mentions throughout the year, the NHS was the second subject of online conversations in the United Kingdom, reaching 17 billion views. Unsurprisingly, the discussion about the NHS spiked in January 2023, when unsuccessful talks about pay raises resulted in a wave of strikes amongst nurses and other NHS staff. 

Unlike in any other issue, more than 50 per cent of the reactions to the news about the NHS were positive, with the public supporting the striking staff under #sosNHS, #saveournhs and #prayingfornursing hashtags. 

The economic crisis, which engulfed the UK due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, had a lasting effect on the debates of the British public online. There were 676,306 mentions of rising food prices, 432,895 of inflation, 331,589 of strikes and protests, 266,145 of recession, and 183,785 of house prices. 

The only crime-related subject which sparked some debate was knife violence (10,680 mentions), with most of the coverage resulting from the stabbing of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey in London in March 2023 and numerous actions undertaken by the police to advertise its efforts to tackle knife crime.


SentiOne is a European AI company launched in 2011. Its mission is to support clients in automation of business processes with a wide range of AI-enhanced tools, including internet monitoring services, communication platforms and high-end conversational chatbots and voicebots. SentiOne is used by brands such as Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Nike, Unilever, Beiersdorf, Tesco, Starcom, Mindshare, Mediacom, Saatchi & Saatchi and others. It has offices in London, Warsaw, Gdansk, Ostrava, Budapest, Munich, Eindhoven, Mexico and Dubai. Its products are used  by more than 400 clients in Europe, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Columbia and Brazil.

For more information contact:
Agnes Uba