Britain sets June date for historic EU referendum

February 21, 2016 7:00 am
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– ‘Depressingly negative campaign’ –

Analysts say the nitty gritty of the EU deal will likely be only a small part of the referendum campaign, which is already focused on the big issues of immigration, security, prosperity and Britain’s place in the world.

“Voters are not going to decide by this deal,” said John Springford, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed Cameron’s deal as a “sideshow” but said he would be campaign to stay because the EU “brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers”.

Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King’s College London, said he expected both sides to emphasise the risks of either leaving or sticking with the status quo.

“This is going to be a depressingly negative campaign,” he told AFP.

The date for the referendum, which clashes with the Glastonbury music festival, an EU summit in Brussels and comes in the middle of the Euro 2016 football tournament, has to be approved in parliament and Cameron will address the House of Commons on Monday.

It will be Britain’s second referendum on European membership in just over 40 years. In June 1975, voters backed membership of the then European Economic Community (EEC) by just over 67 percent.

The question on June 23 will be: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

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