Britain votes to leave E.U.

A referendum was held on Thursday 23 June 2016, to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. A referendum is basically a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part, normally giving a "Yes" or "No" answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won.
brexit
Why was a referendum held?

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold one if he won the 2015 General Election, in response to growing calls from his own Conservative MPs and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum. The EU has changed a lot since then, gaining more control over our daily lives, they argued. Mr Cameron said: "It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics."

What is the European Union?

The European Union - often known as the EU - is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has since grown to become a "single market" allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the Euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas - including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges.

What was the referendum question?

"Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

British exit from the European Union. Britain's exit will affect the British economy, immigration policy, and lots more. It will take years for the full consequences to become clear. But here are some of the most important changes we can expect in the coming months. Britain is the second-largest economy after Germany in the European Union, a nuclear power with a seat on the United Nations Security Council, an advocate of free-market economics and a close ally of the United States. The loss of Britain is an enormous blow to the credibility of a bloc already under pressure from slow growth, high unemployment, the migrant crisis, Greece’s debt woes and the conflict in Ukraine.

With net migration to Britain of 330,000 people in 2015, more than half of them from the European Union, Mr. Cameron had no effective response to how he could limit the influx. And there was no question that while the immigrants contributed more to the economy and to tax receipts than they cost, parts of Britain felt that its national identity was under assault and that the influx was putting substantial pressure on schools, health care and housing.

The campaign run by one of the loudest proponents of leaving, the U.K. Independence Party flirted with xenophobia, nativism and what some of its critics considered racism. But the official, more mainstream Leave campaign also invoked immigration as an issue, and its slogan, “Take control,” resonated with voters who feel that the government is failing to regulate the inflow of people from Europe and beyond.

Other anti-establishment and far-right parties in Europe, like the National Front of Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders’s party in the Netherlands and the Alternative for Germany party will celebrate the outcome. The depth of anti-Europe sentiment could be a key factor in national elections scheduled next year in the other two most important countries of the European Union, France and Germany.

What does Brexit mean?

It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU - merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a Greek exit from the EU was dubbed Grexit in the past.

What were their reasons for wanting the UK to leave?

They said Britain was being held back by the EU, which they said imposes too many rules on business and charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return. They also wanted Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming here to live and/or work. One of the main principles of EU membership is "free movement", which means you don't need to get a visa to go and live in another EU country. They also objected to the idea of "ever closer union" and what they see as moves towards the creation of a "United States of Europe".
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