UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) will take place on 23 June. The referendum was pledged by the Conservative party, who won the general election last year. Voters will be asked, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Cameron said he will campaign for the UK to remain in the EU after securing a list of membership reforms over lengthy negotiations with other EU leaders in the last few days.
The reforms include changes to the provision of migrants’ benefits. If the UK votes to remain in the EU, it will be able to limit in-work benefits to migrant workers for the first four years for their stay. However, the overall restrictions must be lifted within seven years. In terms of sovereignty, member states can stall EU legislations with a lower threshold of objections from 55% of national EU parliaments. The UK is also promised the right to veto financial regulations of the Eurozone, and an explicit opt-out of the commitment to an “ever-closer union” with other EU member states.
Despite the Prime Minister’s case for the UK to remain in a reformed EU, several cabinet members, including Michael Gove, have already registered their decisions to campaign for the opposite camp. As opinion polls after the referendum announcement show a marginal lead for leaving the EU, the UK is braced for another close and intensive referendum that will determine the country’s future.
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