It is the question of the moment in Europe: will the UK leave or remain in Europe? Less than 24 hours from the vote, here are eight things to know about the Brexit.
When it will happen.
The referendum will take place on Thursday 23 June 2016. However, this is not the first time the UK has had to decide on its position toward the EU: a similar referendum was held in 1975 and pro-Europe supporters won by far with almost 70% of votes.
Euro-skeptic argued that it has been more than 30 years since last time the UK population had a chance to have its say on the EU membership.
They also maintain that the political and economic situation has radically changed during the last years and therefore what was true back in 1975 might not be valid anymore in 2016.
Apples of discord.
There are many topics on the table that separate Euro-skeptics and those who wish to remain as part of the EU. The more controversial are surely immigration, economy, autonomy, and security.
Euro-skeptics claim that during the last years, immigration from Europe has increased, due to the crisis and the refugees emergency, up to an unsustainable level for the UK, unable to cope with it. They also consider the EU regulations to put an unnecessary burden on the British economy, with a consequent job loss, reduced profits and, even more importantly, a limitation of the British sovereignty in deciding its own policies on matters such as farming and fishing. They also consider that the lack of border control has led to a reduced internal security and prevents the UK to efficiently defend themselves from potential terrorists (even though the UK has never been fully part of the Schengen agreement)..
Claims of pro-Europe.
Pro-Europe parties and politicians state that the UK has greatly benefited from its participation in the European Union and that leaving now would lead to an economic recession, loss of jobs and a reduced market for British products, which are massively exported (more than 40%) toward the EU. They also claim that while security is an issue for every country, only by combined efforts of all the EU governments it will be possible to improve the global safety.
Leave and remain factions.
The referendum has split almost every party into "Leave" and "Remain" factions. Labourists are in general for the UK to remain in Europe, but some, like Graham Stringer, had decided to campaign for the “Leave”. Conservatives are also divided, but Prime Minister David Cameron is strongly supporting the “Remain” against his party fellowman, Boris Johnson. Nigel Farage, one of the most vocal anti-Europeist, and his party are firmly against the UK in the EU.
EU leaders are generally for the "Remain" faction: Angela Merkel, President Hollande, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, all expressed their support for the pro-Europe groups. Barak Obama has also stressed the importance of having the UK as part of the European Union. However, the "leave" party has gathered consensus among other Euro-skeptics in EU: Marie Le Pen in France and the 5-star movements in Italy, among others.
Implications of leaving.
If the UK will leave the EU, there will be numerous implications: on the economic side, the UK will have to re-discuss their commercial agreements with Europe, and it is still unclear what the ground for negotiations will be. This is one of the main reasons for many big British businesses to back up the "Remain" position. Leaving the EU could re-ignite the claims for the independence of Scotland and Wales, and trigger a domino effect of more countries trying to leave the European Union.
If they remain.
If on the contrary, the UK decide to remain, it will boost not only the popularity of the pro-Europe parties and politicians, a boost Prime Minister David Cameron desperately needs, but it will also reinforce the EU as a concept and political identity as a whole.