Today, Thursday the 23rd June, marks the date of the third, and perhaps biggest, referendum to be held in The United Kingdom. All over the country people have been voting en masse since 7am this morning and the polling stations will close at 10pm tonight.
The matter in question, whether Britain should remain or withdraw from the European Union. Considering the political and economic weight Britain has held historically it is a matter which could have wide reaching ramifications if they decide to leave.
The campaign, which has heated up over the past months to almost fever pitch in the last couple of weeks, began on the 15th of April. Leading the remain side of the campaign is Prime Minister David Cameron while on the opposition side is former mayor of London, Boris Johnson. However, plenty of people, both inside and outside of Britain, have made their opinions heard on what the electors should to vote to do today.
In Britain a party of artists from the music and film world have come together to express their desire to remain inside the EU, they were also joined by the British Fashion Council and a whole host of entrepreneurs and business people, perhaps most substantially, Richard Branson.
From outside Britain, voices such as Barack Obama, President of the United States, has registered his interest that they stay, while Presidential hopeful and billionaire Donald Trump has suggested that he would vote to leave if he were British. Russian leader, Vladimir Putin has also hinted at a preference for them to leave.
What will it actually mean if Britain does leave the EU however? Well, that is a hotly debated topic. By and large the remain side has claimed that a leave result will have negative economic results for Britain. They will have to pay for the privilege of trading within the common market area, they will lose EU subsidies and foreign investment may go elsewhere. The leave side, however, cite other countries within Europe who are not members as proof that the economy will remain strong if Britain leaves. They will remain within NATO, although some commentators fear that a Brexit will weaken the alliance.
The issue of migration seems to be a big one for many voters who feel that the number of immigrants into Britain needs to be capped to allow British nationals a chance of earning a decent wage. This is especially relevant due to the migrant crisis affecting Europe at present. While the EU hopes to rehome the influx of migrants around many member states, some are more willing than others to accommodate them.
The flip side of this debate is that migrant workers form a large part of the British workforce. Many companies have expressed frustration at this situation because they have tried to recruit from a local base for unskilled workers but have been unable to fill the positions. If they are unable to recruit from abroad then their job vacancies may go unfilled rendering them unable to continue their business activity.
The campaign has been pretty heated at times with one side calling the others liars and suggestions of fear mongering. Some extreme elements have emerged also, the worst of which saw a young Labour MP, Jo Cox killed when she was shot & stabbed in the street just last week by a man who shouted a pro Britain slogan beforehand. This terrible tragedy was a stark reminder of just how invested people can become in divisive issues such as this.
Ultimately we do not know how exactly things will pan out for Britain in the event of a Brexit. What is clear is that the markets have already been experiencing volatility in relation to the Sterling currency and either way it will take some time before it calms back down. But for now, all we can do is wait to see what the will of the British people is.
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