Phil Wilson

Fighting for the issues that matter most to you

EU Referendum: The Basics

Feeling a little lost when it comes to the EU referendum? Don't worry, here are the basics covered.



What is happening?

This summer people across the UK will make a generation defining decision, whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union.

When is it happening?

Thursday 26th June 2016

What is a referendum?

A referendum is a vote on a single issue, and asks voters their opinion.

Usually, a referendum question will require a “Yes” or “No” answer, although this will be a little different in the upcoming EU referendum.

What is the question?

 “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” will be the question on Thursday 23 June 2016.

Voters can choose between two responses:

Remain a member of the European Union.
Leave the European Union.

(The question was chosen by the Electoral Commission, an independent organisation which regulates elections in the UK.)

What is the EU?

The European Union (aka the EU) is an economic and political partnership of 28 European countries. It began in 1950 five years after the end of the Second World War. The original countries were France, Germany, Belgium, Netherland, Luxembourg and Italy, with the UK joining in 1973.

Since its formation, the union has sought to foster economic co-operation, with the Treaty of Roe in 1957 establishing the European Economic Community. Since then, the EU has grown.

Now a “single market” goods can move around member states without obstacles such as tariffs, stimulating competition and trade.

As well as the free movement of goods the EU member states also have the free m movement of people, services and capital.

Click here for a beginners guide to how the EU works.


Before setting a date for the referendum David Cameron went to Brussels hoping to re-negotiating the UK’s deal with the EU. Here are some of the reforms he came back with:

For those with children living overseas their child benefit will not be stopped. It has been agreed however that payments should reflect the cost of living in those countries. Consequently, child benefit payments will be recalculated and could be substantially different to payments in the UK.

In the event of “exceptional” levels of migration the UK will have an “emergency break”.
During an emergency break the UK can decide to limit in work benefits for their first four year. This however can last no longer that seven year.

There will be an EU treaty change which is explicitly clear that the UK is not part of an “ever closer union”.

Britain shall not face discrimination because it is not part of the Eurozone.

Non-EU nationals married to EU nationals may not have an automatic right to free movement unless their spouse has received specific leave to remain in the EU country where they live.

What does the Labour Party say?

Labour is IN for Britain.

The Labour Part recognises the UK is better off in Europe. It is clear that being in the European Union brings us jobs, growth and investment. The EU has helped to secure workers’ rights and make consumers better off too. That’s why Labour is campaigning for Britain to stay in Europe

As for Cameron’s negotiations, they are fundamentally about appeasing Tory backbenchers – rather than delivering the reforms that would make the EU work better for working people. As a result, Cameron’s deal is a largely a sideshow.

The much heralded ‘Emergency Brake’ will be ineffective in reducing migrant numbers. Making changes to migrants’ in-work benefits will neither address the real challenge of low pay in Britain or the exploitation of migrant workers to undercut local wage rates, nor will it put a penny in the pockets of British workers.

The Labour Party is united on this issue because it recognises the many ways the EU benefits people across the UK.

Millions of British Jobs are linked to EU membership.
£26.5 billion is invested in Britain by EU countries each year.

Exports to the EU are worth £227 a year to the British economy.

Thousands of criminals, including terrorists have been arrested under the European arrest warrant.

The EU helps keep us safe at work and protects our human rights.

The EU leads on tackling climate change.

Who can vote?

Want to cast your vote on June 23rd, you can if you are;

- A British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK and over the age of 18.

- A UK national living abroad, and have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years.

- A commonwealth citizen in Gibraltar.

An EU citizen in the UK will be unable to vote in the referendum.

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