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Britain’s EU Referendum: The View from the Continent
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September 21, 2016
Inroads Journal
Caption

When British voters go to the polls on June 23, they will make an unprecedented decision. For the first time, a member state of the European Union (EU) is holding a referendum on the question of whether to remain in the union or leave it. The race is tight, with polls suggesting that neither side can be confident. As of May 2 the “poll of polls” calculated by the team around Professor John Curtice and the WhatUKThinks website suggests that, on average, poll results currently find Remain and Leave tied at 50 per cent.1

Not surprisingly, given the potential impact on the EU of a British exit, interest in the referendum is high not just in the UK but also across other member states. Changes agreed to following renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership in the EU in February will affect other countries in addition to Britain. In much of the British debate so far there has been an assumption that any further negotiations (regardless of the outcome of the referendum) would follow largely rational and pragmatic analysis by other governments. Very little consideration has been given in most British conversations to what people in other EU states actually think of Britain and how they would respond in the case of a “Brexit.”


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