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All you need to know about the EU Referendum

What is it?

eu referendum

Some are describing it as "the biggest national choice in a generation".

On June 23rd the UK will go to the polls to decide if the we should stay part of the European Union.

British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens, over 18-years-old and living in the UK, and UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years, will all be able to vote.

There are two campaigns trying to sway your vote: Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe.

So what do you need to know?

Why are we having a referendum? 

In October 2011 conservative MPs voted in favour of a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

Then, in 2015 David Cameron promised in his Conservative Election Manifesto that he would hold one by the end of 2017.

He went to Brussels in February this year to agree on an EU reform deal, securing the go ahead for a referendum. 

What will be asked? 

The single question will read:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

You optional answers will be:

[] Remain a member of the European Union

[] Leave the European Union

What does the future look like if we vote to stay in the EU?

Ahead of announcing the referendum David Cameron went to Brussels to secure a deal which he says will give the UK a 'special status' if we vote to stay in the union.
Here is the detail of the new deal:

  • Child benefit - migrant workers' child benefit payments can be cut for children living overseas to the rate paid in their home counties.

  • Migrant welfare payments - The UK can limit in-work benefits to migrants. This 'emergency brake' must be lifted after seven years though. Meanwhile anyone coming to the UK from the EU who does not find work within six months can be forced to leave.

  • Free movement - There will be new powers to stop criminals coming to the UK and to deport them if they commit crime in the UK. Also, people from non-EU countries will not automatically get EU rights if they marry someone from an EU member country.
  • The GBP - Britain can keep the pound and be in the EU, and businesses cannot be discriminated against because they are outside the Eurozone. Britain will be responsible for its financial stability and will not have to contribute to bailing out other Eurozone countries.

  • Sovereignty - The UK will not be part of an 'ever closer union' with other EU members; EU treaties will be amended to reflect this.

But Out campaigners say these changes do not go far enough and complain that Britain is restricted in how much control it has over its borders, law making and is forced to pay large sums to contribute to the running of the EU.

EU Referendum timeline

What does the future look like if we vote to leave the EU?

The UK will 'divorce the EU' - and it could take as long as two years.
Article 50 under the Lisbon Treaty explains how a country should go about leaving:

  • "A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.

    "The Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.

    "It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament."
  • EU Treaties will cease to apply to the UK - it could take up to two years to reach this point.
  • Out campaigners say Britain will regain control of things like the country's borders, trade agreements and laws.
  • They say the Prime Minister's new deal does little to return sovereignty to the UK.

But 'In' campaigners say we could see changes to the price of food, free healthcare on holiday will be lost, jobs could go and there are claims our national security will be at stake.

So who is going to win?

MPs are strongly voicing which side of the fence they sit on - and hope to sway your vote.
Here are some of the key players:

David Cameron 

David cameron


The Prime Minister wants us to stay part of the EU - and has set out a deal which he promises gives the country security should we vote to remain.

When he announced the referendum date he said: "Let me be clear. Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security."

Jeremy Corbyn  

jeremy corbyn


The leader of the Labour party says he welcomes the referendum and, although "the Prime Minister’s deal includes elements that concern the labour party", he wants to remain a part of the EU.

He says: "The European Union has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment."

Nigel Farage

nigel farage


The leader of the UKIP party tweeted: "For the sake of our national security, we must Leave EU so that we have control over who can and cannot come to Britain.

"Let's trade and co-operate with our European neighbours, but make our own laws and control our own borders as a proud, independent nation." 

Alan Johnson

alan johnson


The former Home Secretary is leading the 'Labour In for Britain' campaign.

He says: "Britain 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 in for Britain."

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon


The Scottish First Minister wants an "overwhelming" vote to remain in the EU.

She also fears that Scotland could be outvoted.

If it votes in favour of EU membership and the rest of the UK to leave it could prompt a second referendum on Scottish independence.


Boris Johnson

boris johnson


The Mayor of London has called for "total transparency" in the months ahead.

He says he will not be supporting his party leader: "The EU has changed out of all recognition. 

"I think it's going in the wrong direction for Britain and the UK. Now is the time to make a change."


George Osborne

george osbourne


The Chancellor of the Exchequer says an EU exit "would represent a profound economic shock."

He tweeted: "With risks facing global economy most heightened since crash, now would be worst time for UK to take gamble of EU exit.

Michael Gove 

Michael Gove


It has been the most difficult decision of his life says the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

But he says: "We can take back the billions we give to the EU, the money which is squandered on grand parliamentary buildings and bureaucratic follies."


Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith


The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions says there is a great sense of déjà vu about the EU debate. 

He says he opposed the Maastricht Treaty, to give extended powers to the institutions of the EU some 24 years ago, over fears it would take away the UK's power to govern itself.

Kate Hoey

kate hoey 2


The Eurosceptic former minister is one of the leading players in the Labour Leave campaign.

She told Sky News what she thinks of the Prime Minister's deal: "Quite honestly the detail of the changes that David Cameron brought back are so minimal anyway they are not going to make a difference."

Philip Hammond



The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and MP for Runnymede & Weybridge says the EU reform deal tilts the balance firmly in favour of the UK remaining in.

"We're stronger, safer, better off in EU on these terms than out. 

"Non-EU options come at an unacceptable cost."

Chris Grayling 

chris grayling


The Leader of the House of Commons and MP for Epsom and Ewell is another member of David Cameron's cabinet voting to leave the EU.

He says: "We are one of the world’s biggest economies, one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and key players in NATO. Britain will be a major player outside the EU."

But which side of the fence are Surrey and Hampshire MP's sitting?


You can hear a little from each of them here, or check out some of the article at the bottom of this page.

How are you voting? 

An Eagle Radio poll shows it is still all to play for, as a significant proportion of people remain undecided.

Our online poll has the Brexit campaign out in front.

37% of those asked said they want to leave the EU, that compares to 23% declaring they will vote to stay.

But it is the floating voters who show there is still everything to play for, with 40% yet to decide which way to vote.

In a wider poll carried out at radio stations which, like Eagle, form part of the UKRD group, it is a similar picture.

It shows 34% want to leave the European Union, with just 22 per cent voting to remain.

However, the biggest percentage once again goes to the 'don't know' category, accounting for 44%.

So people really care?

That is a resounding yes in this area, with 78% saying they are either interested or very interested in the referendum.

*The Eagle Radio poll asking 'How would you vote?' was completed by 678 people.

*The Eagle Radio poll asking 'Are you interested in the EU referendum?' was completed by 705 people.

*The UKRD poll asking 'How would you vote?' was completed by 2,117 people.