A referendum is being held on Thursday 23rd June to decide whether Britain should remain or leave in the European Union (EU). This means that everyone who is at voting age can take part choosing to remain or leave the EU.
Why is the referendum being held?
The current Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a vote in or out of the EU if he won the 2015 general election. This was in response to his own party (the Conservatives) and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) who were arguing that Britain had not had their own say since 1975 when the country voted to stay in the EU.
What is the European Union?
The European Union is an economic and politician partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two with the idea that countries which trade together are less likely to go to war against each other. Since then, it has grown rapidly and has allowed countries in the EU to trade together easier, whilst also allowing citizens to move countries easier as well.
What does Brexit mean?
It is a word that is being used as a shorter way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit.
Around 3.5 million British jobs are directly linked to British membership of the European Union’s single market – 1 in 10 British jobs.
The EU buys over 50 per cent of UK exports (54 per cent of goods, 40 per cent of services).
Over 300,000 British companies and 74 per cent of British exporters operate in other EU markets. So we will be able to keep similar trading agreements with them.
Through commonly agreed EU standards, national Governments have achieved improvements to the quality of air, rivers and beaches. So, the people of Britain, and Britons holidaying or living in Europe breathe cleaner air as a result.
British people will still able to live aboard in the EU – there is currently about 1.4m EU ex-pats. More than 14,500 UK students took part in the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange scheme in 2012.
Driving licences issued in the UK are valid throughout the EU so anyone will be able to travel throughout the EU without any trouble.
The UK is the second largest beneficiary of EU research funds, and the British Government expects future EU research funding to constitute a vital source of income for our world-leading universities and companies. So staying in will mean that will be able to still receive funds and carry on important work.
Pro-Brexit campaigners argue that leaving the EU would result in an immediate cost saving, as the country would no longer contribute to the EU budget. Last year, Britain paid in £13bn, but it also received £4.5bn worth of spending. So the UK’s net contribution was £8.5bn. That’s about 7 per cent of what the Government spends on the NHS each year.
Leaving the EU could mean that imports and exports between different EU countries may now have a tariff. More than 50% of our exports go to EU countries.
Britain risks losing some of that negotiating power by leaving the EU, but it would be free to establish its own trade agreements.
Under EU law, Britain cannot prevent anyone from another member state coming to live in the country – while Britons benefit from an equivalent right to live and work anywhere else in the EU. Leaving will mean that we take control on the immigration and who will be able to enter the country. However other EU countries will be able to do the same.
Leaving the EU can mean three million jobs could be freed from foreign workers if Britain goes it alone. However millions of jobs are linked to trade with the European Union.
At the moment, polls are very tight at a 50/50 split. This is a very important event and will have a direct effect on everyone in the UK so it’s very important that everyone does vote. If you are a registered voter, make sure you have your say and vote for remain or leave. You will find a local poll near you and they are open from 7am to 10pm.