London: British politicians yesterday made their final pitch to a bitterly divided electorate on the eve a crucial referendum to persuade undecided voters of the merits of remaining in or leaving the 28-member EU with polls showing a razor-tight race whose outcome could shape Europe’s future.
The Union and European Union flags fly outside City Hall in central London on the eve of the EU referendum. Opinion polls indicate a tiny lead for the "Remain" camp led by Prime Minister David Cameron but the result is too close to call. AFP PHOTO
More than 46 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum in which people are being asked to choose whether the UK should stay in the European Union or leave in the first vote on the UK’s links with Europe for more than 40 years.
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the support from top businesses as he kicked off the final hours of his campaigning, stressing that the UK enjoyed a “special status” within the EU and the “best of both worlds.”
But Boris Johnson and other Leave campaigners said only a vote to leave the EU could give the UK the freedom it needs to set its own course, rejecting the economic forecasts suggesting the country would face a downturn following Brexit.
In his closing speech, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage said it had been a “long, lonely road” for him and his party — which has campaigned for EU exit for more than 20 years — and he believed his party’s supporters would “crawl over broken glass” to vote for Brexit.
At the close of the polls, thousands of sealed ballot boxes will be collected from schools and church halls which double up as polling stations and transported to one of 382 counting venues across the UK. Jenny Watson, the chair of the UK’s Electoral Commission and the referendum’s chief counting officer at Manchester Town Hall on Friday morning, will declare the result.
28 Number of EU countries
46 million The number of people expected to vote in the referendum
800 Number of Indian businesses that will get affected in the vote
1,55,100 The number of EU migrant families in UK that stand to be affected in the vote
GBP 8.8 billion Britain’s contribution to the European Union in 2014/15
RBI yesterday said the "uncertainty on the outcome of the vote has resulted in some turbulence in the global markets, including India." It is keeping a close vigil on developments of the vote and will take all necessary steps including liquidity support to ensure orderly conditions in the financial markets.
Why does Bremain exist?
The 'Bremain' or Britain Remain camp feels an EU membership helps them with the economy as the membership allows free movement for Europeans as well as trade. They feel immigrants make the country's workforce more vibrant. They also feel that UK leaving the union would isolate it economically.
Why does a part of the United Kingdom want out?
The 'Brexit' or Britain Exit camp that wants UK to leave because they fell the country is bogged by too many trade restrictions and a huge amount of money that England sends out, simply as EU membership fees. The camp also seeks to seal borders so that the number of migrants can be curbed
The percentage of votes for Bremain in a poll for businesses
The idea you have to choose between being a success in the European single market of 500 million and campaigning to have jobs and wealth created by trading with other economies — you don't have to choose, you should do both.
- David Cameron, UK PM
I don't want to leave a union that has brought more peace and stability to the region. Just so we are all clear, this may well decide the fate of two unions, not one.
- JK Rowling, Author
We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong. For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone.
- David Beckham, Footballer
The percentage of votes for Brexit in a poll for businesses
What does United Kingdom stand to gain or lose?
If Britain chooses to exit, its freedom of economic movement across Europe would get affected. But, at the same time it wouldn't have to abide by EU's rules and will get more democratic freedom. However, should it choose to stay, things would continue as they have until now. UK follows on a minor chunk of EU laws and has a veto on the important ones.
EU, UK and the referendum
The origin of EU: The present day European Union began as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950. The six founding countries were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. UK joined the union in 1973.
1975 referendum: A referendum was held in 1975 to decide UK's future in the Common Market, EU's name back then. 67% of the electorate voted in favour of UK staying in.
2013 referendum: In January 2013, UK PM David Cameron promised an In/Out referendum for the UK once again, to stay or leave EU. The European Union Referendum Bill, initiated shortly after Cameron's speech was rejected. However, another bill The European Union Referendum Act was initiated in the parliament in May 2015, and was passed in December.
Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The European Union is an attempt to do this by different methods.
- Boris Johnson, Former London Mayor
If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the European Union, I'd vote to stay in. But there isn't. Sad.
- John Cleese, Actor
I don't want to make a comment about the UK leaving but I think they may leave based on — I'm there a lot, I have a lot of investments in the UK and I will tell you that I think they may leave.
- Donald Trump, US Presidential candidate