In or Out? Britain votes in historic EU referendum

RSTV Bureau

EU-refferendumBritain is set for a historic choice today. It will vote on whether the country should remain in the 28-member European Union.

Close to 47 crore people are entitled to vote in the EU membership referendum that will take place between 7 am to 10 pm local time.

The surveys and polls say it’s a neck and neck situation and about 11 % of the voters who still seem to be undecided, will swing the final results on Friday.

The advocates for a Brexit argue that tossing off the shackles of EU bureaucracy will restore British sovereignty. The opponents say a vote to leave could be a grievous self-inflicted wound.
On Wednesday Prime Minister David Cameron made a last-minute appeal to stay in the European Union.

“This vote, if we leave, is irreversible. If you jump out of the aeroplane you cannot clamber back through the cockpit hatch. And that is why anyone in any doubt should be voting Remain tomorrow. This is a choice, not just for this parliament, the next five years, the next 10 years; it is the choice of a lifetime for people in our country, particularly young people,” said PM Cameoron.

Earlier, prominent politicians from both sides of Britain’s EU referendum held a debate and made last minute attempts to sway the undecided. The “Leave” and “Remain” camps also squared off on Tuesday night for a fiery televised Great Debate.

Leading ‘Brexit’ backer Boris Johnson, a former London mayor who is widely touted as a future prime minister, insisted the “Leave” campaign was on the brink of victory.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leftist leader of the opposition Labour party is in Cameron’s ‘Remain’ camp whereas Michael Gove, one of the ‘Leave’ leaders is a member of Cameron’s cabinet.

“Vote for jobs, vote for rights at work, vote for our NHS (National Health Service), vote to remain in the European Union,” argued Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Immigration to Britain, which has risen significantly in recent years, has been a key issue that has seriously divided the country.

Big world economies including China and the US, and even other EU and NATO nations are in favour of Britain remaining in the union. UK has been warned that a decision to leave would diminish the former imperial power’s influence and affect thousands of migrant workers.

“All aspects of the EU’s domestic market, and the benefits shared by all EU members, will no longer be available for Britain if it votes to leave,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The French too warned the UK against an exit.

“There is a very serious risk for the United Kingdom to no longer be able to access the single market and everything that makes the European economic area,” said French President Francois Hollande.

Meanwhile, the counting of votes will take place at 382 local counting areas in England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Whichever side gets over 50 per cent of the votes will be declared winner.

(With inputs from agencies)