23rd June 2016 has been announced by the Prime Minister as the date when the British people will answer this question which will appear in the ballot papers:-
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
The voter will have the choice:"Remain a member of the European Union" OR "Leave the European Union”.
This question, which is set out in section 1 of the European Union Referendum Act 2015, is possibly the biggest question ever put to the whole of the United Kingdom population in a referendum. (The Scotland independence referendum in 2014 was of massive importance. Voting was confined to the electorate in Scotland). The Prime Minister has said that - " ... whatever your decision, I will do my best to deliver it." In this post, I seek (briefly) to highlight just a few points.
Prime Minister announces the referendum:
The Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons 22nd February 2016
Does the referendum result bind the government in law?
NO since there is nothing in the 2015 Referendum act to try to do this. Politically, it would be very difficult for the present government to ignore a referendum result in favour of leaving the EU.
Information to be produced:
The 2015 Act also requires the government to publish information about the outcome of negotiations and about EU membership:
Section 6 requires:
- a statement setting out what has been agreed by member States following negotiations relating to the United Kingdom’s request for reforms to address concerns over its membership of the European Union, and