Making social science accessible

02 Jun 2016

Politics and Society


There is now just two weeks to go to the referendum on whether the UK will remain or leave the European Union (EU). The public vote on 23 June is one of the most important political decisions that we will make in our lives.

The ‘poll of polls’ that combine the results of over 100 separate opinion polls show the result being too close to call at the moment. Neither the ‘remain’ or the ‘leave’ campaigns have established a clear lead. The opinion polls also show a large number of people still haven’t made their mind up on how they will vote.

The EU referendum is not like a normal election where we are voting for a party or to elect an individual. We will be voting on a single issue – do we want to remain part of a group of 28 European countries or do we want the UK to leave the EU club? Whatever decision we make as voters will have a major effect on the future of our economy, our society and Britain’s place in the world for decades to come. So having a say, by voting in the referendum, is crucially important.

Television, radio and newspapers are full of coverage of the referendum campaign. But they are tending to focus more on the politicians and the campaigns, such as the antics of Boris Johnson or whether Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to scare the public into voting to leave.  How can we as voters get the best understanding the issues and make their decision on how they will vote?

Most importantly if you want to have a vote in the referendum then you need to be on the electoral register. If you are not sure if you are you are registered to vote then you need to go online and complete the form but you need to be quick as the deadline to register to vote for the referendum is 7 June.

If you are an undecided as to which way to vote then go and have a look at what the two official campaigns organisations want you to think about when coming to a decision. Britain Stronger in Europe are making the argument for the UK to remain a member of the EU. Vote Leave is the campaign organisation arguing for a leave the EU vote. Both organisations have websites, will be allowed time for short campaign films on the main TV channels and will be leafleting you in the next few weeks.

If you want to check whether the campaigns are giving you the real facts then you can use one of the independent ‘fact checkers’ websites that are trying to separate the myths from the truth. The BBC’s Reality Check website, Full fact and of course this organiation are all checking the claims the campaigns are making and seeking to provide impartial analysis to voters.

And if you still have questions you can attend one of our free Ask the Expert events that are taking place across the country where impartial experts are available to provide answers to your EU questions.

Richard G. Whitman is Professor of Politics at the University of Kent and Senior Fellow on the independent UK in a Changing Europe initiative.


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