The decision for referendum was initially a political promise made by David Cameron in January 2013, where he will conduct an EU referendum by the end of 2017 if the Conservatives are re-elected in 2015, which they were. But some also pointed out that the decision for a referendum was also impulsely made straight after the Summit on Britain's membership at the EU, in which Cameron did not get all the terms that he wanted and might have decided to use the referendum for leverage.
Nevertheless, for whatever reason, on Thursday 23 June 2016 voters who have registered by 7 June at the latest will begin voting from 7am until 10pm, at 382 local centres across Britain. British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens (from 54 states) who are over 18 and who are resident in the UK are eligible to vote. UK nationals living abroad who have been on the electoral register in the past 15 years are also eligible to vote. In addition, unlike in general election, Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar are also eligible to vote, as well as citizens of Commonwealth countries Malta and Cyprus.
There are no official exit poll for the referendum, and a lot of the unofficial exit polls are only allowed to start counting the votes simultaneously along with the official vote count, starting from 10pm when the voting closes, up until the morning. The national declaration of the referendum result is then expected to occur "around breakfast time" on Friday 24 June 2016 at Manchester Town Hall, and sometimes during the same day David Cameron will address the nation from Downing Street. Here's what to watch for as the night unfolds.
When Cameron made the referendum promise back in 2013 the possibility of "Brexit" was slim, but since then the EU had suffered from numerous problems, notably the migration crisis and the economic deteriorations. And these problems have made the chance for both Stay and Exit camps now equally strong. Here are the main arguments for both camps:
If Britain vote to stay, that should be the end of it. But what happens next if the people vote to exit the EU? John Rentoul of The Independent has the best answer:
"If we as a nation vote to leave, that does not mean we cease to be members on 24 June. Constitutionally, the referendum is advisory. It is an instruction to the Government to begin the process of withdrawal.
The Government has various options. It could simply repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and all associated legislation and tell the EU that the UK is no longer a member. That could take a matter of days when Parliament reconvenes on Monday 27 June. But no one expects anything to happen that quickly.
The Lisbon Treaty in 2009 set out for the first time a formal procedure for a country to leave the EU. It would be tactful to use it if we want to remain on good terms with our former partners, and if we want to negotiate favourable terms for our departure. Article 50 sets a time limit of two years on those negotiations, at the end of which Britain would leave."Indeed, if Britain exits from the EU there will be uncertainties for few years. And these uncertainties, especially economic uncertainties, have heated up the Brexit debates. The followings are some of the best arguments (both for and against Brexit):
5 arguments in favor of a UK Brexit from the EU - and 5 against [MarketWatch / Victor Reklaitis]
Leave or remain in the EU? The arguments for and against Brexit [ The Telegraph / Ben Riley-Smith]
Brexit: Britain flirts with economic insanity [The Washington Post / Robert J. Samuelson]
Brexit risks leaving European banks with $123 billion to cover [Bloomberg / Sally Bakewell and Alastair Marsh]
Brexit's damage to UK economy would be felt until at least 2020 [The Guardian / Angela Monaghan]
Debunking the Brexit myths [New Statesman / Paul Nurse]
What the first 100 days after Brexit would look like [ZeroHedge]
250 business leaders back exit, say campaigner [BBC News]
What would happened to the NHS if Britain leaves the EU [Sunday Express / Alice Foster]
I am starting to think a Brexit is a good idea and I never thought I would ever say that [Business Insider / Lianna Brinded]
A background guide to Brexit from the European Union [The Economist]
Bloomberg QuickTake: the Brexit debate [Bloomberg QuickTake / Robert Hutton]
The Brexit campaign: a cheat sheet [The Atlantic / Krishnadev Calamur]
What is Brexit and why is there an EU referendum? [The Independent / Oliver Wright and Charlie Cooper]
Nearly all the questions that you can think of are answered in this BBC FAQ, including who are in the Stay camp and who are in Exit camp, and their financial backings [ BBC News / Brian Wheeler and Alex Hunt]
The demographic profile of potential Brexit voters is strikingly similar to that American supporters of Donald Trump and French adherents of the National Front. Opinion polls indicate that British voters back the “Leave”campaign by a wide margin, 65% to 35%, if they did not complete high school, are over 60, or have “D, E” blue-collar occupations. By contrast, university graduates, voters under 40, and members of the “A, B” professional classes plan to vote “Remain” by similar margins of 60% to 40% and higher [Project Syndicate / Anatole Kaletsky]
Something strange emerges when looking behind the "Brexit" bookie odds [ZeroHedge]
What will happen to Britain if there's Brexit? Here are four possible outcomes [The Independent / Griff Witte]