A person who opposes increasing the powers of, and closer connection with, the EU. He/She also criticises the functioning of the EU.
Trading bloc (Also known as the Common Market and The EU Single Market)
A trading bloc is a type of intergovernmental agreement that allows member countries to trade freely in all economic resources. It removes all regional, internal and regulatory barriers to trade in goods, services, capital, and labour. The EU trading bloc is the largest in the world, with a GDP of £11.3 trillion in 2014, compared to the United State of America’s £10.6 trillion.
Brexit (Britain Exit)
Brexit is an abbreviation of “British exit” and refers to Britain leaving the EU. The word was adopted from “Grexit”, a shorthand used for Greece’s possible exit from the Eurozone.
Red tape is a term that has been used a lot during this referendum campaign and refers to excessive regulation or rules that may no longer be considered relevant to the current circumstances. It prevents actions from being taken or decisions being made. It’s often cited to explain the burden of EU regulation on small businesses.
The European Commission
The institution that proposes legislation, which is then examined and amended by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The Commission promotes the general interest of the EU by enforcing legislation and implementing policies and EU budget. The Commission represents the EU internationally in areas of trade policy and humanitarian aid, and negotiates international agreements for the EU. The current President of the Commission is Jean-Claude Juncker who leads a team of 28 commissioners, one from each member state.
The EU Parliament is made up of directly elected representatives from each member state, much like a national parliament. The Parliament is the EU’s law-making body and members are elected by EU citizens (you) every five years. The last election was in May 2014. The Parliament also makes decisions on international agreements and reviews the EU Commission’s programme of work, asking it to propose legislation.
The Council of the EU (or Council of Ministers) consists of civil servants/diplomats from each member state and at the highest level is represented by government ministers. The European Council is comprised of heads of government or state (such as David Cameron and Germany’s Angela Merkel) and defines the general political direction and priorities of the EU.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP)
A Member of the European Parliament (MEP) is an elected representative in the European Parliament. There are 751 MEPs in total, split between different members states based on each country’s population (Germany, for example, has more MEPs than Malta).
An MEP’s main function is to scrutinise and amend legislation proposed by the European Commission. For legislation to be enacted, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU both have to agree on a joint text.
Parliament is made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. There are 1,440 individuals in Parliament: 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) as at the 2015 General Election and 790 Members of the House of Lords (Peers). The most important role of Parliament is to examine and challenge the work of the Government and hold it to account, to ensure our laws are the best they can be.
House of Commons
Members of the House of Commons are known as MPs and are elected in by their constituents (You). MPs have responsibilities to their constituents (You), Parliament and their political party. MPs’ duties in Parliament include participating in debates and voting on legislation. Some have a role as a Minister in government or a spokesperson for the opposition parties.
House of Lords
Members of the House of Lords are also known as Peers. The main role of the House of Lords is similar to the Commons, however they are not elected. They are currently made up of people who have been appointed to their role and also those who have a heredity (by birth) right to be there. Members of the House of Lords cannot vote in general elections.
There are now 650 parliamentary constituencies across the UK, each of which is represented by one MP in the House of Commons – this is who You vote for. There are currently 533 constituencies in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland. The number of people in each constituency is approximately 66,250 across the UK.
The Prime Minister is the leader of the political party who wins the general election, is the figurehead for the UK and ‘enjoys’ one of the most powerful jobs in the world. They are elected from within their party in a leadership contest. The current Prime Minister is David Cameron who is the head of the UK government and is responsible for the policy and decisions of the Government. He was the only one who could call this referendum.
Government is made up of MPs, who are then selected by the Prime Minister, to undertake responsibility for areas of our life, such as health, education, defence. They assume ministerial roles known as Secretaries of State. They form the majority of what is known as the Government and make executive decisions about the issues that affect us.
The system we use to elect MPs is called First Past the Post, the two most important things to know about this voting system is that you get one vote, and that candidates do not need to get a majority of the votes, just more than anyone else. Your vote is crucial to this process.
If no one party secures the majority of seats in the House of Commons then a ‘hung’ parliament results, and a majority must be sought between at least two of the parties to form a government. This was the case in the 2010 General Election that gave us the Coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Bills & Legislation
All legislation starts off as a Bill (proposed law) and becomes an Act of Parliament (a law). E.g. the Health Bill included provisions to ban smoking in public places, when the Health Act was passed the smoking ban then became law.
This is the document introduced by each political party in the run up to an election which outlines their intended vision for the future of the country, with a list of key promises to You the voter. Each political party will campaign locally and nationally promoting their manifesto commitments. For example in the recent elected Mayor of London has begun to have meetings with experts and officials to ensure that his promises for London set out in his manifesto are delivered.
We do not have a written constitution in the UK, however the framework of how we are governed and participate in that governance, including our rights and responsibilities, provide us with an unwritten constitution. E.g. your right to vote and your responsibility to undertake jury service is part of our unwritten constitution.
The Civil Service (in relation to politics) makes up all employees who work for government departments, such as the Department of Health and the Department for Justice. The civil service is politically neutral.
Broken down it means People and Strength and is the form of government in which the political power is vested in the people. That is You.