For the first time in the EU’s history, a member nation is going to vote on whether to stay in the union. The “leave” and “remain” campaigns have kicked into overdrive now that the referendum is less than a week away. It’s been a see-saw battle, with polls tipping either side to snatch it at the death. Let’s take a look at how we got here.
The European Union Referendum Act
It all started on 17 December 2015, when the European Union Referendum Act received Royal Assent. This act, in its first section, posed the question: Should the UK remain a member or leave the EU? Since then the debate has raged over the country and has been keenly watched throughout the world.
EU leaders agreed to certain changes to UK membership conditions in the hopes that it would mollify those calling for the UK to leave.
G20 leaders then declared that a “Brexit” would be a shock to the global economy.
This is also when then-mayor of London, Boris Johnson, threw his weight behind the rapidly forming “leave” campaign.
This was the month when campaigning began in earnest.
The conservative party split into two factions, effectively led by David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
President Obama states that exiting the EU would put the UK at the “back of the queue” for trade talks.
The possibility of a “Brexit” remains slim and most pundits were sure that most Brits would be happy to remain.
During this time, the “leave” campaign begins to focus more on the migrant crisis in the EU. The results start to turn in favour of the pro-Brexit campaigners.
At the start of June, an observer/opinium poll on the EU referendum gives the leave campaign a 3% lead on the “remain” campaign.
As more polls were released, the zeitgeist of the British people has become harder to gauge. In the second week of June, a Guardian phone poll gave a 10 point lead to “remain”, while an internet pole run by the same publication gave “leave” a 4 point lead.
As is often the case, when trying to determine the mood of the UK people turn to bookmakers. Bookies, on the whole, feel a win for the “leave” campaign is less likely than some polls suggest. According to the betting odds, the result should go the way of the “remain” campaign.
Last week Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party and official opposition urges voters to choose to remain in the EU, citing the importance the EU puts on maintaining workers’ rights.
On Thursday June 16 Jo Cox was assassinated by a “leave” radical. This lead to the temporary suspension of campaigning on both sides.
Campaigning began once again on Monday 20 June, with both sides in a frantic push to convince voters before the EU referendum on 23 June.
Are you an EU citizen living and working in the UK?
Check out our article from last week to make sure you are fully clued-up about what a Brexit could mean for your visa.