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The 1975 Common Market Referendum

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The Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath took the UK into the European Economic Community (EEC) in January 1973 after membership had been blocked on 2 previous occasions (vetoed in 1961 and 1969 by Charles de Gaulle). This brought the total number of members to 9 with Ireland and Denmark joining at the same time.

In 1975, the Labour prime Minister, Harold Wilson called a referendum for the public to decide whether the UK should remain as members of the EEC.

The question on the ballot paper was

“Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?”

The referendum was held on 5 June 1975.

There was a turnout of 64.03% from a registered electorate of 40,456,877.

67.2% voted in favour of staying in the EEC and 32.8% voted against.

More information can be found at the House of Commons Library in a briefing paper prepared in July 2015 The 1974-75 UK Renegotiation of EEC Membership and Referendum.

Referendum Campaign

The Keep Britain in Europe campaign had the support of all the major political parties although Government ministers were allowed the freedom to differ from the party line and follow their consciences.

3 pamphlets were distributed to households in the UK one from the Government (in favour of remaining), one from the Yes campaign (in favour of remaining) and 1 from the No campaign (in favour of leaving).

Copies of the text used in these documents can be found at:

Government recommendation in Britain’s New Deal in Europe

Britain in Europe campaign Referendum on the European Community (Common Market) Why you should vote YES

No campaign Referendum on the European Community (Common Market) Why you should vote NO.

The Conservative party also produced a separate guide calling for the UK to remain in the EEC.

Yes to Europe: The Conservative Guide for the 1975 Referendum Campaign

Copies of the actual original pamphlets are reproduced at The 1975 Common Market Referendum Campaign Documents

Does your MP want to Remain in or Leave the EU

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The BBC have a useful web-site where you can find out whether your MP backs the Leave or Remain campaign supports your view.

Does my MP back the Leave or Remain campaign?

The official position of the Conservative party, and Government, is to remain in the EU. Individual Conservative MPs, however, can support either view and are free to campaign either to Remain, or to Leave, the EU. The Conservative MPs appear to be almost even split between Leave and Remain.

For Labour, the party line is to Remain in the EU. Almost all of the Labour MPs seem to be following this instruction from their leadership.

Both the Scottish Nationalist Party and Liberal Democrat party have indicated they want to Remain in the EU – all their MPs are following this instruction.

The Democratic Unionist party DUP have indicated that they will campaign to Leave and all their MPs follow this approach.

Of the other political parties represented in Parliament, only UKIP (1 MP) have indicated they wish to leave the EU.

The breakdown of the political affiliations represented in Parliament are as follows:

Conservative 330
Labour 229
Scottish National Party 54
Democratic Unionist Party 8
Liberal Democrat 8
Independent 4
Sinn Fein 4
Plaid Cymru 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party 3
Ulster Unionist Party 2
Green Party 1
UK Independence Party 1

Overall, the vast majority of MPs have indicated they want to Remain in the EU which may, or may not, be representative of the electorate as a whole.

update: 8 July 2016

Michael Fabricant is the MP for Lichfield. In a recent article for the Lichfield Mercury he mentioned:

… As for reflecting the views of my constituents, an MP is a representative not a delegate.

I am elected to use my own judgement on behalf of constituents and not to receive instructions from them.

MPs have to be independent. But in the event, I did in fact reflect the view of Lichfield with 59 per cent of the local electorate sharing my opinion that we should leave.

Full story at
http://www.lichfieldmercury.co.uk/8203-the-country-has-spoken-and-we-must-move-on-says-lichfield-mp-michael-fabricant/story-29451592-detail/story.html

Viewpoints

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There are a number of different organisations presenting their opinion as to the benefits, or otherwise, of remaining as members of the EU.

The UK Government is recommending that the UK should remain in the EU. Info available at

https://www.eureferendum.gov.uk

The Electoral Commission has designated Vote Leave Ltd as the lead campaigner for the Leave EU campaign and The In Campaign Ltd as the lead campaigner for the Remain campaign.

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-subject/elections-and-referendums/upcoming-elections-and-referendums/eu-referendum/designation-of-lead-campaigners-for-the-eu-referendum

This allows each of these 2 campaign groups a spending limit of £7 million, 1 free distribution of information to voters, referendum campaign broadcasts and a grant of up to to £600,000.

The In Campaign Ltd company is also known as Britain Stronger in Europe and can be found at

http://www.strongerin.co.uk

Vote Leave can be found at

http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org

There are a number of other organisations campaigning either to Remain In or to Leave the EU

UK Government

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The Conservative Government believes that it is in the best interests of the UK to remain in the EU and have produced a leaflet that outlines their position. This will be delivered to all households in the UK starting with England from 11 to 13 April and in Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland commencing the 9th May.

EUToryViewpoint

Please bear in mind that the document has been produced by the Cabinet office

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/cabinet-office

and the official Government line is to remain in the EU. Thus the information is presented to represent that opinion.

You can view a copy of the leaflet on-line or download your own copy from the government web-site at

https://www.eureferendum.gov.uk/why-the-government-believes-we-should-remain/eu-referendum-leaflet/

Information used during the creation of this leaflet is provided at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk

Based on figures supplied by the government, it has cost £9.3 million pounds to produce, distribute and publicise the leaflet which works out at approximately 34p per household (based on 27.4 million households). The cost can be further broken down as follows:

  • Production costs – £458,500
  • Print and delivery – £5,947,436
  • Digital promotion and website – £2,894,064
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