Facts we do know
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. it began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. it has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, essentially as if the member states were one country. it has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even issues like mobile phone charges.
The crucial question that has been proposed by The Electoral Commission and has been accepted by MPs reads, “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The options for voters will simply be ‘Remain a member of the European Union’ or ‘Leave the European Union’.
Who can vote?
British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK are eligible to vote, along with UK nationals living abroad, who have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a General election. citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote.
The last vote
Britain had a referendum in 1975 shortly after it had joined the EU, or the Common Market as it was then called. The country voted to stay in at that time, but there have been growing calls, from the public and politicians, for another vote because, they argue, the EU has changed over the past 40 years, with many new member countries and the organisation extending its control over more aspects of daily lives.
Who wants what?
There are now two official groups leading the campaigns and various high profile leaders involved on both sides. Britain Stronger in Europe is the main cross-party group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU. It is headed by former Marks and Spencer chairman Lord Rose and backed by key figures from the Conservative Party, including Prime Minister, David Cameron and Chancellor, George Osborne, most Labour MPs, including party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Alan Johnson, who is running the Labour In for Britain campaign, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, the Alliance party and the SDLP in Northern Ireland, and the Green Party.
Vote Leave campaign is also a cross-party campaign and has the backing of senior Conservatives such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson plus a handful of Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Graham Stringer as well as UKIP’s Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans and the DUP in Northern Ireland. It has a string of affiliated groups such as Farmers for Britain, Muslims for Britain and Out and Proud; aimed at building support in different communities.
Mature Times asked questions of each campaign group as to how, in their opinion, the result will affect older people. We give a brief summary of the answers from Lord Wallace from the remain campaign and Ian Duncan Smith from the leave.
Why should older people vote?
Stay – The result will affect everyone in the UK especially our children and grandchildren.
Leave – We need to take back control of our laws and borders.Is it a good thing?
Stay – EU laws prevent discrimination, funds social projects in education and training. Gives us cheaper flights and healthcare in member countries.
Leave – Membership money paid to the EU could be invested in hospitals and schools. Border controls could ensure that the brightest and best are welcomed in.
Leave – Damage to British business and sterling values. Pension pots at risks as well as pensions paid to the 400,000 pensioners who live in Europe. 3 to 4 million jobs are linked to EU trade.
Stay – The expense of membership and loss of political control. The threat of millions of immigrants from new countries such as Turkey and Macedonia if they are allowed to join.
Answers provided by each spokesperson are not the views of MT’s editorial team.
Is the result legally binding?
The referendum result is not legally binding. Parliament would still have to pass a law to take Britain out of the 28 nation bloc should a ‘leave’ vote be returned, starting with the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act.
Technically MPs could block an EU exit – but it would be seen as political suicide to go against the will of the people as expressed in a referendum.
The withdrawal agreement would also have to be ratified by Parliament – the House of Lords and/or the Commons could vote against ratification.
Our postbag has been mixed and there are many who think that it is not up to us, the electorate to make such a monumental decision, but to leave it to our democratically elected Parliament.
The big question for me is how, where and from whom do I get the facts to be able to make an informed decision?
Let us know if you have made up your mind already and why.