Britain will hold a referendum in June on
whether to leave the
European Union. Known as
'Brexit' the issue is
increasingly dividing national opinion.
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 main issues relate to
sovereignty and how Britain’s relationship with Europe would change.
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Britain’s economy is central to the
Brexit debate. Questions of
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, that
remaining provides freer trade and that there will be new
safeguards against the Eurozone.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
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 as
the migrant crisis.
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.
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.
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.
free movement across borders guaranteed by the EU is feared by some to facilitate security problems such as
people smuggling and
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
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.
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'.
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.
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
European Communities Actwhich recognised the primacy of EU law over UK law
In 1972, Parliament passed the European Communities Act which recognised the primacy of EU law over UK law
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.
The treaties say “ever closer union of the peoples” of Europe…
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.
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
educational backgrounds. The main campaigns are
Remain to stay in, and
Vote Leave and
Leave.EU to exit.
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.
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.
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.
Scotland is them most pro-EU region of the UK, closely followed by London. Residents in
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.
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.