Will getting Brexit done create another baby boom in the UK?

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Claim: Boris Johnson has suggested that Brexit is going to bring such optimism and joy to the country there will be a baby boom, and claimed that it will parallel a previous rise in births after the 2012 Olympics.


In an interview with the Sunday Times, the prime minister claimed that “Cupid’s darts will fly once we get Brexit done” and “romance will bloom across the whole nation”. He said there had been a baby boom “after the Olympics, as I correctly prophesied in a speech in 2012”.

Johnson is fond of such claims. When mayor of London, he claimed the “euphoria” in the wake of Team GB’s success at the 2012 Olympic games had led to a surge in births not seen in the capital since 1967, the year after England won the football World Cup.


Across the UK, the number of babies born in 2013 was down on 2012, so no Olympic baby boom there, according to the Office for National Statistics.

ONS tables for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland showed there were 812,970 babies born in 2012, the year of the games.

The following year – when Johnson’s supposed baby boom would have materialised – the numbers were slightly down to 778,805 in 2013.

So the “paroxyms of joy” that Johnson spoke of after Team GB’s gold medal haul did not lead to a baby boom.

In London, the ONS also show a small drop in births – from 134,186 recorded for 2012 to 128,332 for 2013.

But there was a lot of talk about a baby boom in 2013. One consultant clinical psychologist was so excited, she explained that a national sense of optimism can act as an aphrodisiac. “When you experience feelings of novelty, interest and motivation your brain releases dopamine and noradrenaline, which in turn increase levels of oxytocin and vasopressin – chemicals associated with arousal. On a neurobiological level, the Olympic baby boom makes sense.”

Notwithstanding the absence of such a boom, hopes that Brexit will cause such a leap in dopamine levels seem like a stretch.


There was no baby boom in the year after the Olympics.