Tag Archives: democracy

The EU Referendum – an overview

The European Parliament, Strasbourg. Image © European Union 2015 – European Parliament and used under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.

You’ve probably heard quite a lot by now about the European Union (EU) Referendum that is due to take place this year on 23rd June. As the referendum draws ever nearer there’s likely to be an ever increasing volume of information (and propaganda!) thrown our way as we consider whether to remain in the EU, or leave.

Before the waters are muddied too much by the flood of claims and counter-claims, I figured now is as good a time as any to put together some useful resources in terms of the referendum.

The Question

Following acceptance by MPs of the proposal put forward by the The Electoral Commission, the question put to the people at the referendum will be:

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

Voters will be offered the chance to vote to “Remain a member of the European Union” or “Leave the European Union.”

Who can vote?

British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals living abroad who have been on the electoral register for the past 15 years. (Source: The Electoral Commission]

Factchecking

As with the last general election, Full Fact will be fact checking claims made during the referendum campaign. Full Fact is an “independent, non-partisan factchecking charity” and methodically analyses claims to check their veracity. You can find their analysis of some of the key issues at their dedicated EU Referendum pages.

The European Union

The official EU website is accessible at europa.eu.

A range of datasets relating to the European Union are available via Eurostat, the EU’s official statistics portal.

The European Court of Justice is the highest court in the European Law in matters of EU law and is responsible for interpreting EU law and ensuring it is applied equally across all member states. You can search for case law and view the most recent rulings at the Court’s official website.

Campaign Groups

Britain Stronger in Europe – The main cross-party group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU. Led by the former Marks and Spencer chairman Lord Rose, it includes figures from all major political parties and has received funding from a range of sources, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

Vote Leave – A cross-party campaign led by the Labour MP Gisela Stuart. It is also backed by the Labour Leave group – the Labour Party’s campaign to leave the EU. It has received funding from Conservative Party donor Peter Cruddas and Labour donor John Mills. Vote Leave’s Chief Executive is Matthew Elliott, founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a right-wing think tank campaigning for low taxation.

Grassroots Out (Go!) – Founded by UKIP donor Arron Banks, Grassroots Out has been backed by figures across the political spectrum, including Nigel Farage (UKIP), George Galloway (Respect), Kate Hoey (Labour) and David Davis (Conservative).

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition – An anti-austerity movement established in 2010, it is currently led by former Labour MP Dave Nellist and has a number of constituent organisations including the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party.

Voting

Details on how to vote are available on The Electoral Commission’s website, including details of how to vote by post.

Polling

What UK Thinks:EU is a non-partisan source of information on UK attitudes to the EU and the EU referendum and is run by NatCen Social Research, an independent social research agency. The website offers analysis by renowned pollster, academic and media commentator, Professor John Curtice.

Previous Referendum

An EU referendum was last held in 1975, when voters were asked “Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?”. 67.5% of votes were in favour of staying in.

It’s interesting to note after the controversy surrounding the government’s decision to send everyone a leaflet explaining the benefits of the EU, that the government distributed a similar leaflet in 1975. You can read the full text of the leaflet here and you can find details of more campaigning materials from that referendum courtesy of the archives at the LSE here.

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