The EU referendum: a simple explanation for people who don't know anything



If you've read a newspaper, used the internet or existed over the past few weeks, you've probably heard about a lot about the EU referendum.

Lots of us have basic impressions of what 'referendum' and 'Brexit' really mean (actually... not so much with the latter) but it doesn't mean we fully 100% get it, per se.

There's loads of information out there - way too much information for busy creatures like ourselves - so what is it we really need to know? And what are our roles in the whole thing?

Never fear: we're here to tell you all you need to know within a reasonable time frame.

Just explain in one sentence, please.

On the 23rd of June, voters will decide whether the UK will stay in or leave the European Union.

What's Britain's beef with the EU?

Firstly, let's reacquaint ourselves with the EU.

A few years after the Second World War several countries decided to open up trade and pool their resources together to stop themselves fighting one another again. More and more nations joined - Britain in the 70s - until it was made up of the 28 countries that we know as the European Union today.

Nowadays, being part of the EU means remaining independent but agreeing to trade under certain agreements made between the nations.

So what's the beef?


While being part of the EU is meant to bring fabulous benefits such as easy trade, security and sensible policies we all agree to stick to - such as on employment and the environment - many believe that being a member is holding us back with 'red tape' (excessive bureaucracy and rules) and holding back business.

Apparently, Britain pays the EU £340 per household for the benefits of EU membership. While those who want to stay say that this pays itself back easily and more, those who want to say farewell to the Union say it could be better spent elsewhere, such as on schools and research.

Wtf is 'Brexit'?

Google brexit
Source: Google

No, it isn't a global pharmaceutical company - the answer is far simpler:

Britain wants to exit the EU, right? So Britain + exit = Brexit. That really is it.

What could this mean for young people?

If we leave the EU, will we need visas to work abroad?


That totally depends on the agreements made after splitting. We could stick as a free market, meaning we'd probably still be allowed to work anywhere in the EU.

If the government chose to impose work permits, however, other countries would reciprocate and we'd have to apply for visas to work out on the 'ol continent.

Would it make it easier or harder to get a job?


People seem pretty split about this.

Several big business bosses recently warned The Times that a split from the EU would put the economy - and jobs - at risk.

But at the same time two-thirds of FTSE 100 firms didn't sign that same letter. Hmm.

There are loads of arguments for and against, so pay close attention to this one in the run up to the big day.

What about employment rights?


EU employment law is there to complement what Britain puts in place anyway.

So it sets minimum standards for working conditions, such as working hours, and for informing and consulting workers about big changes that'll affect them, such as redundancies.

With some stuff we stick to the minimum requirements, and with others we go above what they ask for.

Either way, those who want to stay are worried that these rights would be compromised.

Some rights, such as holiday entitlement and overtime, could change as they'd be fair game for the government to decide about.


But others such as holiday pay and discrimination almost definitely wouldn't. Britain has it's own rules about these things already - and tbh, we're pretty set in our ways regarding discrimination based on race, gender, disability, etc - so would basically kick off big time if these were messed with. And they know that.

Anyway if we do leave, we wouldn't see much change for years yet.

Dear God, what about Eurovision?

Don't worry. Eurovision overlord Alasdair Rendall (aka the president of the fan club) said we'd still be part of the big, sparkly Eurovision family even if we split from the EU.

That's because you just need to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union to take part, which is a totally different thing.

If Australia can get into Eurovision, we bloody well can too.

Can I vote?


If you're British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen over 18 who's a resident in the UK - or a UK national who's lived overseas for less than 15 years - yes indeedy.

It's pretty darn similar to a general election. If you're registered to vote, you'll be sent a card telling you where it takes place and where to go.

Get the slip of paper with the referendum question on it ('Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?'), X the box which reflects your choice, and away you go.

The EU referendum: Feature image: Number 10, The Wedding Warehouse, Wikipedia