In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

The EU Referendum Begins


As commonly said to cats: are you in or out? (Edited: Getty Images)

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union has formally begun [1]. The campaign will be fought over ten weeks, before the ballot is held on Thursday 23rd June 2016.

The In Campaign Ltd (Britain Stronger In Europe) has been, unchallenged, designated as the lead campaign group for Remain, by the Electoral Commission. The choice for the Leave campaign was primarily between Go Movement (Grassroots Out) and Vote Leave Ltd, with the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition also submitting an entry. Claire Bassett, the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said [2]:

Where there are competing applicants for a particular outcome the law is clear, we must designate the applicant which appears to us to represent those campaigning for that outcome to the greatest extent.

We receive two high quality applications on the ‘Leave’ side, from ‘Vote Leave Ltd’ and ‘The Go Movement Ltd’. After careful consideration, the Commission decided that ‘Vote Leave Ltd’ better demonstrated that it has the structures in place to ensure the views of other campaigners are represented in the delivery of its campaign. It therefore represents, to a greater extent that ‘Go Movement Ltd’, those campaigning for the ‘Leave’ outcome, which is the test we must apply.

We encourage all campaigners to now focus on engaging voters on the historic decision they will have to take on 23 June.

The threat by Arron Banks, who headed Leave.EU and was a chief subsidiary of the Go Movement, to put the decision to judicial review was not followed through [3].


It was a close contest. (Source: BBC/Electoral Commission)

The rules

The designation of the main campaigns matters for electoral purposes [4]. Britain Stronger in Europe and Vote Leave, as the designated Remain and Leave campaigns, will obtain a grant of up to £600,000, a spending limit of £7m, a campaign broadcast, a taxpayer-funded mail-drop, and free access to meeting rooms.

Whilst other groups are free to run their campaigns, they are limited to spend at most £700,000 if they register with the Electoral Commission, and must report the source of their donations. If a campaign group does not register with the Commission, they have an expenditure limit of £10,000.

The spending limit for political parties is determined by their vote share at the 2015 General Election. The Conservatives have the highest spending limit, of £7m, due to having the highest number of votes at the general election. Labour’s expenditure in the referendum campaign must not exceed £5.5m, the UK Independence Party cannot exceed £4m, and the Liberal Democrats cannot spend more than £3m. Political parties which received less than 5% of the UK vote are limited to £700,000.

The suffrage and the debate

British and Irish people, as well as Commonwealth citizens, aged over 18 who are resident in the UK are able to vote in the referendum. UK nationals who have been living abroad but have been on the electoral register in the past 15 years are also able to vote, as are members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar. Citizens from EU countries — excluding Ireland, Malta and Cyprus — are not eligible to vote.

It is hoped that the campaigns are sober, considerate and based upon fact and reasonable forecasting.


Well, that lasted a long time. (Source: BBC)

The vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union is on 23rd June.

(Video: EducationFornication)


[1] BBC, 2016. EU referendum: NHS cash row as campaigns get under way. Available from: [Accessed: 16th April 2016]

[2] Electoral Commission, 2016. Electoral Commission designated ‘Vote Leave Ltd’ and ‘The In Campaign Ltd’ as lead campaigns at EU Referendum. Available from: [Accessed: 16th April 2016]

[3] BBC, 2016. Why Vote Leave Beat Grassroots Out. Available from: [Accessed: 16th April 2016]

[4] Electoral Commission, 2016. Referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Available from: [Accessed: 16th April 2016]



This entry was posted on April 18, 2016 by in National Politics and tagged .
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