European Union Referendum

The European Union Referendum Bill - Fact Sheet


The Bill

The Bill makes provision for holding a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, by the end of 2017.



The question set out on the face of the Bill is as follows:


Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?





This question is simple, straightforward and follows the Electoral Commission’s recommendation from its consideration of James Wharton’s Private Members’ Bill. The Bill also includes a Welsh translation.


Who can vote?

The franchise for the referendum is the franchise for UK Parliamentary elections, i.e. British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over the age of 18 resident in the UK, and UK nationals resident overseas for less than 15 years. In addition, members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will be able to take part.


EU nationals who are not Commonwealth or Irish citizens would not be eligible to vote. As a vote of national importance, the Parliamentary franchise is appropriate. This was the same franchise (except Gibraltar) used for the 1975 referendum on EEC membership and the 2011 AV referendum.



The Bill creates a power to set the date of the referendum by order and provides that the referendum must take place before the end of 2017 at the latest.


Other key details

The Bill takes a power to set the Conduct Rules (how the referendum is administered) and updates the framework for the Campaign Rules (how the campaigning will be regulated). In both, the Bill follows a number of precedents from the Scottish Independence and Alternative Vote referendums, as well as Electoral Commission recommendations.