What is a referendum?

A referendum is a process in which everyone is asked to vote on a particular question or proposal. In this case, to simply answer whether the UK should remain or leave. The side with more than half of the votes cast wins the referendum.

How did we get here?

The debate about UK’s membership of the EU has been ongoing since we first joined to become a member of the European Economic Community in 1973. In recent years, increasing pressure from factions of the Conservative Party, partly driven by the increasing support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), eventually led the Prime Minister to call a referendum.

In January 2013, the Prime Minister made a manifesto pledge that if re-elected in 2015, he would seek to negotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU before giving the British people a “simple choice” by 2017 on whether to remain or leave the reformed EU.

Between 2013 and the General Election in May 2015, there were two failed attempts to enshrine David Cameron’s pledge for a referendum in law. However, once the Conservatives won a majority at the General Election, David Cameron, as promised, confirmed that he would hold a referendum during his time in government.