The European Community

2016 EU Referendum
In 2015, the 'European Union Referendum Act 2015' was passed by UK Parliament to hold a referendum for the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union (EU), to be held no later than 31 December 2017. This had been a promise in the Conservative Manifesto of the 2015 General Election. The Referendum was held on Thursday 23rd June 2016, with all results in by about 8am the following day.

The UK Government, led by the Conservative Party, and most of the UK political parties supported the 'Remain' campaign. UK homes received a Government leaflet (costing about £9m) outlining the reasons to Remain. As the date came closer, the campaigns gathered in intensity, with testimonies from leading industrialists and financiers on either side (Branson, Dyson, etc.) and facts and figures commissioned to support each side. UK sovereignty featured little in Scotland.

Official Groups:

The UK Independence Party (UKIP), led by MEP Nigel Farage, was not included in the official Leave campaign but proved to be effective in its own campaign. Their tour bus was much criticised for displaying a £350m/week figure of what the UK pays to the EU (supposedly to be recovered upon Brexit) but the actual out-going figure would have included an arranged rebate. A later UKIP poster featuring a line of impoverished-looking refugees/assylum-seekers also attracted criticism, even from the Leave side (notably Mr Gove).

Voting Areas
Penistone Mug from Hallmark Card ShopThere were 382 Voting Areas, with 326 in England, 32 in Scotland, 22 in Wales and single areas for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. The Voting Areas fed into twelve Regional Counts, overseen by Regional Counting Officers.

Referendum Spending:

The Results
On Friday 24th June, the results showed a majority in favour of leaving the EU. Overall turnout was 72.2%, the highest since 1992 and better than the 2015 General Election (66.1%). The expected figures from surveys, as counting began, were 52% for Remain and 48% for Leave. In reality, they were almost the exact figures but in the opposite direction.

London and Scotland were most strongly for Remain, leading to speculation about a new Scottish Independence referendum. Northern (Labour-supporting) industrial areas were particularly in favour of Brexiting. Wales also favoured Brexit in about the same proportion as the full vote.

The Results
A YouGov Exit Poll revealed a split along age lines (and education), with 71% to Remain for under 25s and about 36% to Remain for over 65s. As expected, turnout among older voters was much higher than the young. The same turnout for all age groups would have given Remain an easy victory. (See also the FT)

Decisions, Decisions
Each side had strong and convincing arguments and, as of early June 2016, the polls suggested an equal number of votes each way. The UK newspapers were also divided, with such as the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail in the Leave camp and The Times and the Mail on Sunday backing Remain. Facts and figures stacked up on either side.

It was not an easy decision to make and likely to have long-lasting effects either way. Television debates covered such topics as: economic downturn, border control issues, trading relations, tariffs, proposed EU army, security, new accession countries, democracy, repercussions, etc. On the economy, the Remain side was clear that the value of the pound would decline upon Brexit and some on the Brexit side agreed, but only as a passing phase and as the price worth paying for self-governance. Mr Osborne's threat that house prices would fall was seen as a positive for young people aspiring to get on the housing ladder. Bloomburg TV said that Britain lacked any seasoned negotiators within the EU. An apparent consensus in the press and on radio was that both sides had fought dirty and misleading campaigns, at a time when voters had been struggling for hard facts.

An ebullient MEP Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party said that 'This was Britain's Independence Day', which echoed Boris Johnson's similar and apparently popular parting shot in an EU debate. Mr Cameron gave a heartfelt retirement speech outside No 10 and a responding speech by his chief opponent, Boris Johnson of the Leave camp, gave credit to Mr Cameron as a brave and principled man, of a 'one nation' Conservative Party. Boris said that the EU Referendum had been about the very principle of democracy.

Within the Labour Party, Peter Mandelson said that the Brexit result had been a victory for the Far Right. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took the view that Brexit was a vote against austerity. Mr Corbyn was denounced by some in his party for not having fought a strong enough campaign in favour of Remain. Others took the view that the Labour Party had been out of touch with the mood of the electorate and that it had long avoided issues of popular concern, such as excessive or inappropriate immigration.

Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party said that, in view of the strong Remain vote in Scotland, this might lead to a second Scottish Independence Referendum. The SNP First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, made the point more emphatically and said that she would be starting the process soon. Comments from Ireland suggested a renewed move towards reunification.

In the Wall Street Journal, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, said that Britain's vote to leave the EU will not change the country's role in the military alliance.​ He said that NATO would become “more important” than ever as a platform for European cooperation. The UK, he said, will remain "A strong and committed NATO ally."

German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that "The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain." A side comment on Bloomberg stated that Germany could be about £3bn out of pocket per year as a result of Brexit. The Daily Telegraph gave it as: 'Germany's contribution to EU annual budget could rise by £2bn after Brexit.' Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen, and her nephew Marion Le Pen of the French National Front hailed the result as a "Victory!" and called for French exit or ‘Frexit’. Also on the right, Geert Wilders of the Netherland's Freedom Party tweeted: "Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!"

The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the European Union must change quickly to support its citizens. Not because Britain has left, but because the European project needs much stronger support of its citizens, be more ready to act, be flexible, less bureaucratic and much more sensible to the diversity that the 27 member states represent.

The PM's Speech
Mr Cameron described it as a giant democratic exercise. He said that the people's decision must be supported and that he would do all that he could to make it a success (to 'steady the ship'). He said that the way that people travel, goods and other services used will continue as before. He also gave assurances to Brits living abroad that there would be no immediate changes to their dealings with the UK. He said that stability was important and that he would stay in position until a new Prime Minister is found in time for the next Conservative Party conference in October. He reminded us that he had already stated that he would not be standing for the next General Election. He also urged those who had lost the referendum to work for the best interests of our country. At the end of his statement, he said (with a lump in his throat) that he would do everything he could to help this country succeed.

See the PM's Speech of 24th June 2016.
Also, see the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Statement of 27th June 2016.

Next Steps
As the Referendum was only 'Advisory' to the UK Parliament, it is possible to ignore it, but that would be political suicide. As Mr Cameron said in his retirement speech on Friday 24th June 2016, the procedure to leave the EU would not commence until a new PM is in place, which will happen before the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016. Artcle 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would then be invoked to start the 'divorce'. One problem is a shortage of civil servants to establish new trading arrangements with other countries.

Immediately post-referendum, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker (in a peevish mood) announced that the divorce ought to be initiated immediately. He will have to wait three months. He also stated that the UK could not expect any favourable trading terms with the EU. A meeting is to take place of all except the UK representatives to decide the future of the EU. They need to balance a punishment to the UK as a deterrent to at least three EU member states considering their own referenda, while not disrupting essential UK trade. One in every five German cars is exported to the UK.

A joint statement was issued by Martin Schulz (President of the European Parliament), Donald Tusk (President of the European Council), Mark Rutte (Holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU) and Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission). Part of this reads: 'As agreed, the 'New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union', reached at the European Council on 18-19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation.'

Info Sources:
'By Area' and Turnout: Daily Telegraph.
'Barnsley Area' - BMBC.
International Reaction: Euronews.
Main results, Mr Cameron's speech and other items from BBC Radio 4, 'Today' and News.
Some additional material: Bloomberg
New EU Settlement - Negotiated by Mr Cameron, Feb 2016.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Joint Statement from the EU, 24th June 2016.

2014 EU Elections
The European Parliament has elections every five years and is composed of 751 members. It has powers over the entire EU budget.
In the 2014 EU Elections, the top three parties (nationally) were: UKIP (26.6%), Labour (24.43%) and Conservative (23.05%). Turnout: 34.19%.

The Penistone area comes under the EU'Yorkshire and the Humber' constituency. These are the voting figures for this constituency:

6,868 - Total Rejected Votes, Turnout 1,296,701 - 33.5 %.

New MEPs
The six elected MEPs for the 'Yorkshire and the Humber' Region were:

  1. Jane Maria Collins - UK Independence Party (UKIP)
  2. Linda McAvan - Labour Party
  3. Timothy John Robert Kirkhope - Conservative Party
  4. Amjad Mahmood Bashir - UK Independence Party (UKIP)
  5. Richard Corbett - Labour Party
  6. Mike Hookem - UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Election Day was Thursday 22nd May 2014. The list of EU candidates was published on the BMBC website: EU Candidates (pdf). Full results for our region were published on Leeds Council website.

National EU Election Results
All 28 member states of the European Union held elections for the European Parliament in May 2014.
The number of MEPs rose this year from the 736 elected in 2009 to 751 in 2014..
The UK list of candidates was almost endless, see BBC EU Results page.

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