There’s talk about the EU referendum wherever you go, in the pubs, inns restaurants, gaming centres, and practically all public places. What does the EU referendum actually mean?
So, what’s happening out there?
The upcoming referendum next month, 23 June to be precise is to make a decision on whether Britain should continue in the European Union or exit. Here are a few questions and answers that are bugging most of the people.
Firstly, what exactly is a referendum?
The Oxford dictionary defines referendum as “A general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct”. In other words, referendum is a vote, where all eligible voters can participate to answer “Yes” or “No”. Whichever answer is in the majority, will be the winner of the referendum.
Why hold a referendum for this?
One good reason is that the Prime Minister David Cameron gave his solemn word that he would hold a referendum if he won the 2015 general election. Moreover, there are increasing murmurs from Conservative MPs, and members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) who are not very happy with the fact that Britain hasn’t had a say since 1975, when, contrarily the vote in the then referendum was to stay in the EU. They are of the opinion that the EU has changed a lot since, gaining more control in the lives of Britishers. Mr. Cameron says, “It is time for the British people to have their say, it is time to settle this European question in British politics”.
What is meant by the European Union?
You’ve often heard people quote European Union or EU, what it actually denotes is the economic and political partnership of 28 countries in Europe. The EU was formed after the World War II with the aim of better economic cooperation among the member countries and keep them away from waging war against each other. Today the EU is a huge “single market” and it is more like all the economic activity is in one country rather than in a group of countries. What’s more is there is a common currency, the Euro that 19 of the member countries use. The EU also has its own parliament with its own set of rules that cover environmental concerns, consumer rights, transport to name a few.
The crucial question in the referendum
The crucial question in referendum is “to be or not to be” in other words whether to remain as a member in the European Union or leave?
What exactly does Brexit mean?
It signifies in a short way the sentiment of Britain wanting to exit from the EU, that’s how the term Brexit became popular, just as Grexit did when the Greeks wanted to leave the Union.
Who is eligible to vote?
All British, Irish and Commonwealth over 18 can vote, though they need to be resident in the UK, as well as UK nationals living overseas with their names registered in the electoral register for the past 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens of Gibraltar, who cannot vote in the general elections, can vote for this referendum. Citizens from EU countries – besides Ireland, Malta and Cyprus don’t get to vote.
How does one vote?
It’ll be just as it is during any general election. If you are already registered as a voter, you’ll get card that tells you when voting will take place, and where you should go in order to vote on 23 June. On the D day, while you are at the polling station, you’ll be handed a piece of paper with the referendum question. You’ll then step into the booth and uses the pencil kept there to mark an X on the box reflecting your choice, fold the paper and drop it into the ballot box. You can also cast your vote by post; land here’s the complete guide on how to vote by post.
David Cameron did try to change the rules of UK’s EU membership
David Cameron did push his weight and tried to influence the EU leaders to change the terms of Britain’s EU membership. In case the UK decides to vote to stay in the EU, there’s this deal that will give the UK special status in the 28 nation club.
The Highlights of the Deal
Child benefit – The migrant stand to benefit as they can still send child benefit payments back home, however the payments would match the cost of living in their home countries rather than that prevailing in the UK
The Pound remains the same – Mr. Cameron claims that Britain will never accept the Euro as legal tender, and none of the eurozone countries will discriminate against Britain for this. What’s more is any money lent to any of the eurozone nations will be reimbursed.
City of London shall be protected – Eurozone regulations can never be imposed on the financial services industry of London, as it is well protected.
How many want the UK to leave the EU?
As per opinion polls almost half the population is in favour of leaving the EU, while the other half want the UK to be part of EU. The UK Independence Party wants the UK to exit, and so do half the Conservative MPs, including a few ministers and Labour MPs.
Why leave the EU?
Most of the people supporting the idea of Britain leaving the EU feel the charges levied as membership fees are astronomical for the piddling stuff they get in return. What’s worse is the number of rules hampering the business prospects of Britons. The people want the government of UK to regain full control of the borders, which could stem the flow of people seeking work in the UK. On the whole they are afraid that a United States of Europe concept is in the anvil, and don’t seem to want it.
What about those who want Britain to remain in the EU?
The British Prime Minister wants that Britain should continue in the EU, maybe because he has regained some powers. Sixteen of his cabinet members are also of the same view and want Britain to continue as a member of the EU. The Conservative Party though proposes to remain neutral throughout. However, the Labour Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems all still want Britain to be part of the EU. President Barrack Obama also wants the United Kingdom to be part of the European Union, and so do Britain’s neighbours France and Germany. However, that is only half of the population wanting to remain, while the other half still wants out.
Is it good for Britain to continue or quit?
That’s what the referendum is all about. However, the crux of the matter is how one looks at it, although deciding to step out of the EU would be a major step. This referendum seems to be creating more interest than the general elections and could have far reaching repercussions. Will deciding to quit leave Britain better off or will it spell economic doom. Here’s a hot debate on the pros and cons.
What do the businesses think?
Most of the big businesses are in favour of Britain continuing to be a part of the EU because it is good for the business and facilitates easier movement of people, products and money. Though some big businessmen like Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB is of the view that being part of 28 nations is not a big deal. He is in favour of Britain exiting from the EU. More than half of the members of the British Chambers of Commerce would like Britain to continue in the EU, though some reforms at the EU would be welcome.
Are there any rules or restrictions for campaigning?
It is the Election Commission’s responsibility to ensure that the contest is fair. However, campaigns for both the sides (“Yes” and “No”) have been designated by the commission. There is a comprehensive guide that the Election Commission has published.
Who are the leaders on either side?
Leading the” for” side, which believes that it will be good for Britain to remain in the European Union is former chairman of Marks & Spencer Lord Rose. This side also has strong support from the Conservative Party, which includes Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne who are ardently supporting this side. Most of the Labour Party MPs lead by the Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Alan Johnson who is in charge of the “in” campaign in Britain are supporters as well. The others include Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, the Alliance Party, the SDLP in Northern Ireland, and the Green Party.
Who’s footing the bill for campaigning?
The side campaigning for Britain to remain “in” has been able to collect £6.88m till date. A sizeable portion of £2.3m comes from the supermarket tycoon and Labour peer Lord Sainsbury. The others include hedge fund manager David Harding, who has pumped in £750,000, Travelex founder and entrepreneur Lloyd Dorfman pitched in with £500,000.