Citizens of the United Kingdom will hold a referendum Thursday June 23 to vote on whether or not the country will remain in the European Union. Here’s everything you need to know about a potential “British exit” or “Brexit” from the EU.
The European Union was created after World War II as an economic and political alliance between 28 European countries. Founding members included Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Germany in 1957.
The United Kingdom — comprised of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales — was among the next few countries to join the union in 1973, along with Denmark and Ireland.
The current U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron opposes the Brexit. However when he ran for reelection 2015, he promised to renegotiate terms with the EU and hold a referendum — a vote on a specific proposal — to court Conservative Party voters, the Associated Press reported.
In January and February 2016, Cameron negotiated with EU leaders to change the terms of the U.K.’s membership in the Union.
The final agreement allows the U.K to keep its currency, the pound, and run its own affairs. It also changes benefits accessible to immigrants, and protects the city of London from European financial sanctions.
However some say that the terms are not sufficient and feel that membership in the union hinders growth in the U.K., the BBC reported.
The referendum asks the people to vote on this question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
If the U.K. votes to leave the EU, it will be the first country to do so.
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Britain is the Republic of Ireland’s biggest trade partner in the E.U. On Thursday, Irish citizens living in the U.K. are eligible to vote in the membership referendum.
Next Thursday, people in Britain are faced with a huge decision that could have implications well beyond its borders.