EU Referendum

aka ‘Brexit’

Britain will hold a referendum in June on whether to leave the European Union. Known as 'Brexit' the issue is increasingly dividing national opinion.

EU Referendum Details

The referendum will be held on 23 June. The question: “Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU?”

Voters can choose to remain a member of the European Union or Leave the European Union

This is Britain’s second EU referendum.

The History of Brexit

The Brexit Debate

The main issues relate to economics, borders, sovereignty and how Britain’s relationship with Europe would change.

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Issues: The Economy

Britain’s economy is central to the Brexit debate. Questions of investment, trade, and Britain's links with the Eurozone, divide the stay and leave campaigns.


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Eurosceptics say the EU single-market system is burdened with 'red-tape' that ties Britain to a weak economy.

Pro-EU backers say its easier to reduce red tape from within the EU, thatremaining provides freer trade and that there will be new safeguards against the Eurozone.

What is the EU Single-Market?

The EU and the single-market is Britain's largest trading partner, accounting for about 50% of exports. But Britain has a big trade deficit with the rest of the EU.

A functioning single-market system treats the EU as one territory without many regulatory obstacles to promote the free movement of goods and services.

Benefits to the Single-Market

The single-market gives EU businesses access to 500 million consumers and accounts for the majority of EU employment.


Imports and exports add up to 2/3 of the UK's economy, and EU trade accounts for 50% of Britain’s exports.

Pro-EU campaigners worry disruptions to trade will have severe economic consequences, while Out backers say Britain can negotiate new agreements to protect trade.

Investment & The City of London

London is the powerhouse of the UK economy and a global financial centre. As such, it brings many multi-national companies and banks to the UK.

Pro-EU backers say the UK is too integrated with European financial markets to leave and exiting will cause international companies to leave the country.

Eurosceptics say London will remain attractive to investors even after “Brexit.” They stress leaving will ensure EU regulations won't prevent development.

New trade agreements?

similar to Norway

How Norway Trades with the EU

London: The UK’s Economic Heartbeat

UK & the European Financial Markets

Banks Threaten to Leave if UK “Brexits”

Leaders at major banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have threatened to leave London if Britain exits the EU. If banks make good on their threat, pro-EU supporters worry that other multi-national companies will follow suit.

Eurosceptics XXXXXXX.

Bosses at some of Britain’s largest companies - including BT, Marks & Spencer and Vodafone - recently co-signed an editorial about the threat a "Brexit" poses to jobs.

EU Regulations Slow Investment

Britain and the Eurozone

Issues: Borders

The debate focuses heavily on the EU's free movement of people, from general economic immigration to refugees such as those in the migrant crisis.

Also linked are cross-border security issues such as terrorism.

EU and free movement

One of the founding principles of the EU, all citizens are entitled to free movement between countries under Article 45 of the TFEU.

This includes the right to movement and residency for workers; the right to movement and residency for family members; and the right to be treated as equal to nationals when working in another Member State.

Issues: Immigration

Immigration is a hotly debated topic in the UK, especially in recent years, for various reasons.

Generally the issue can be divided into general economic migrants (who move across borders in search of a better life), refugees who are fleeing conflict and hoping to claim asylum, which together have contributed to what has become known asthe migrant crisis.

Immigration: Economic migration

Currently, all EU citizens have the right to move between member states to live and work.

Pro-EU campaigners believe that this is beneficial to EU economies, particularly in Britain which attracts many skilled EU workers.

However, Eurosceptics argue that British jobs, benefits and the NHS should be primarily available for British nationals, and that migrants from the EU strain on the economy.

Immigration: Refugees and migrant crisis

The Syrian civil war, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and serious poverty in North Africa have all led to a vast increase in migrants coming into the EU.

Out campaigners argue that leaving the EU will avoid Britain having to adopt a quota system for refugees, and distance ourselves from the ongoing crisis.

But Remain campaigners say that Britain has a moral obligation to help asylum seekers coming into the EU, particularly from Afghanistan and Syria considering Britain's recent involvements.

Issues: Security

The current free movement across borders guaranteed by the EU is feared by some to facilitate security problems such as crime, people smuggling and terrorism.

However, the European Union can also facilitate coordinated responses to crime between countries, and a sharing of intelligence that can help to prevent security issues.


People fear the real possibility of a terrorist attack in Britain, such as those in Paris or Brussels.

Out campaigners say that remaining in the EU leaves Britain more at risk, because attackers can hide among people moving legitimately across borders.

However, the pro-EU campaigners argue that the EU community shares intelligence and presents a united front against terrorism.

Issues: Sovereignty

A key Brexit issue is over how much power the EU has over Britain.

This is mainly about where and how laws are made, and how much the UK is tied into the idea of an 'ever-closer union'.

Eurosceptics believe that Brussels' concentrated power gives the EU supremacy over Parliament.

Pro-EU backers generally want to make sure Britain is not subject to the concept of an ever closer union enshrined in the EU treaty.


UK vs EU lawmaking

An estimated 17% of UK law is derived from the EU, mostly relating to agriculture.

Out campaigners complain about so-called 'red tape' issues whereas in campaigners say these are often

In 1972, Parliament passed the European Communities Act which recognised the primacy of EU law over UK law

‘Red Tape’ EU law

Britain and the ‘ever-closer union’

The EU has long expressed a desire for an 'ever-closer union of peoples', a wording with a symbolic rather than legal basis.

Out campaigners worry this still draws Britain further into the EU, but In campaigners say the exceptions for Britain will prevent this.

‘Ever-closer union’

The treaties say “ever closer union of the peoples” of Europe…

Meaning of ‘Brexit’

Brexit is the abbreviation of "British Exit" and refers to the possibility that Britain will withdraw from the European Union. It mirrors the word "Grexit" which was used during talks of Greece exiting the EU.

A Country Divided

The ‘Brexit’ debate has divided the country into Eurosceptics who wish to leave, and Pro-EU backers who wish to remain. The debate also splits citizens based on region and across political parities, age, and educational backgrounds. The main campaigns are Remain to stay in, and Vote Leave and Leave.EU to exit.

Conservative House Divided…

David Cameron firmly backs those who wish to ‘remain’ in the EU, but many members of his own Conservative party are in favour of the ‘leave’ campaign, including London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Demographics of Brexit

If you live in Scotland, have a university education and are below the age of 30, you’re more likely to want to stay in the EU, according to a recent YouGov survey.

What happens to Scotland if we ‘Brexit?’

A Brexit could force another independence referendum in Scotland. More than half of Scots say they would vote to leave the UK if England chooses to ‘Brexit,’ according to a February Ipsos MORI poll.

Scotland is the most pro-EU region in the UK.

Regional Brexit Divide

Scotland is them most pro-EU region of the UK, closely followed by London. Residents in Yorkshire, West Midlands and East Anglia are more likely to back leaving the Union.



Eurosceptics refers to someone who is opposed to the increasing power of the European Union. The media also uses the term to refer to those who wish to leave the EU.

What is the European Union?

The EU is the politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Originally created after WWII to encourage trade in the hopes that it would prevent future conflict, over the years, the duties have evolved and in 1993 the EU in its singe-market capacity was created.

Which Countries belong to the EU?

How does the EU work?