The European Union (EU) is a political and economic group of 28 countries formed originally after World War II. The EU grew out of a desire to trade together and avoid going to war with each other. Current EU countries are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Britain joined the EEC in 1973. The Maastricht Treaty (1993) had a goal of creating an economic and monetary Union and the EC was replaced by the EU. The Euro was then created as a single currency for the EU. 19 members of the EU now use the Euro as their official currency.
The EU has its own parliament and rules in a wide range of areas from consumer rights to the environment. To join the EU you have to agree to certain rules and will receive benefits in return. Each country must pay in to be a member.
In 2013 David Cameron promised to hold a vote on Britain’s membership, taking place on 23rd June 2016. We have a big decision to make and whichever way you vote will have a big impact on Britain.
What is Brexit?
An abbreviation of ‘Britain’s exit’ from Europe.
Who can vote?
If you are British, Irish or a Commonwealth citizen on the electoral register you can vote in the referendum.
Some reasons to stay in the EU
Being in the EU makes it more attractive for companies to invest in the UK meaning more jobs.
It is argued that over 44% of Britain’s exports go to EU countries from cars to insurance. As a member we are involved in trading rules.
We benefit from The European Arrest Warrant which allows criminals to be brought to justice across the EU.
The EU is the world’s biggest market. We play a big part in climate change issues and world trade. Remain campaigners believe our status in the world would be damaged by leaving the EU.
Freedom of movement
No visa required for UK citizens to work in the EU and vice-versa.
Who wants to stay in?
* Prime Minister David Cameron, although The Conservative Party has pledged to remain neutral in the campaign. He said, “let us remain, let us fight our corner, let us play the part we should, as a great power in the world, and a great and growing power in Europe. That is the big, bold, and patriotic decision for Britain on 23 June.”
* George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer said, “it would lose control of the economy if it left the EU”.
* Theresa May, The Home Secretary said, “for reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world it is in the national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”
* Jeremy Corbyn, Labour party leader says, “Labour has campaigned to make sure our place in Europe has led to better protection and rights in the workplace, we will continue to fight for jobs and security for all the British people”.
* Sadiq Khan – London Mayor has argued it is in the interests of Londoners for Britain to remain in the EU.
* Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the Scottish National Party believes most Scots will vote to remain in the EU.
* US President Barack Obama urged the UK to stay in the EU.
* Other supporters: Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats, Alliance Party, Green Party, SDLP in Northern Ireland, Majority of Europeans, * Well known people – Stephen Hawking, Lord Alan Sugar, Sir Richard Branson, Martin Lewis, David & Victoria Beckham, Jeremy Clarkson, Bear Grylls, Daniel Craig, JK Rowling amongst others.
Reasons to leave the EU
At present laws made by the directly-elected European Parliament supersede legislation made by individual member states. Some believe there are too many rules imposed on our businesses.
Membership is said to cost us around £280 million per week (based on 2014 data).
It is argued that border control will be back in our hands. The EU will continue to grow which could mean more migrants.
Control over economy and trade
Vote Leave campaigners argue that there is too much red tape and that we don’t have the power to make free trade deals with fast growing economies such as India, China, Australia and New Zealand.
Who wants to leave?
* Boris Johnson, former London Mayor says, “Stand up for democracy and vote leave.”
* Michael Gove, Justice Secretary says, “our democracy stood the test of time. We showed the world what a free people could achieve if they were allowed to govern themselves.”
* Former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson says, “I would urge, make 23rd June 2016 the date of the British declaration of independence, and vote to leave the European Union.”
* Lord Owen, former Labour foreign secretary called for the savings made from ending the UK’s multi-billion pound contribution to the EU budget each year to be used for new hospitals, schools and housing.
* Gisela Stuart, labour MP says, “the EU has been a noble dream which has now become a nightmare”.
* Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB says “EU exit will allow the UK to negotiate trade deals for Britain rather than being one of 28 nations.”
* UKIP’s Nigel Farage says, “It’s us versus the Establishment, go and vote for Britain.”
* DUP in Northern Ireland
* Affiliated groups such as, Farmers for Britain, a gay anti-EU group, Muslims for Britain.
* Well known people – Sir Ian Botham, Duncan Bannatyne, James Dyson, Sir Michael Caine, John Cleese, Joan Collins, Julian Fellowes, Sol Campbell.
Which MPs want to leave or remain?
See the following link for more information:
What our Government says:
The UK has special status in a reformed EU. It has kept the pound, will not join the euro and has kept control of the UK border.
The UK Government has negotiated a new settlement with the EU ahead of the referendum. The Government believes this deal gives the UK within the EU the best of both worlds. The UK is stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU. We have access to the Single Market and play a leading role in determining the rules that govern it.
EU membership contributes to the attractiveness of the UK for international investment. It also gives us access to trade deals with over 50 countries around the world. EU membership means opportunities, jobs, and greater economic security for the people of the UK.
This special status means that it is the Government’s view that the UK’s national interest – the interests of every family, household, business, community, region and nation within our United Kingdom – is best served by our country remaining in a reformed EU.
What if Britain remains in the EU?
David Cameron agreed a deal with other European Union leaders to change the terms of Britain’s membership. This agreement will take place as soon as it’s decided to remain in the EU.
Parts of this agreement include:
- Keeping the Pound
- Child Benefit (restrictions for EU migrants)
- Not be part of further European political integration
- City of London (prevention of Eurozone regulations being imposed on Britain’s large financial services industry)
- Migrant welfare payments (new arrivals will gradually gain the right to more benefits the longer they stay rather than immediately)
Leaving the EU
It would take two years to leave the EU. Britain would not be a part of decision-making but would abide by EU treaties and laws for those two years.
Counting of votes will begin once polls close at 22:00 GMT on 23rd June 2016. Local results will be declared as counts are completed before being collated at 12 regional centres. There will also be a rolling total. A chief counting officer will announce the overall result at Manchester Town Hall.
Further information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk