Both sides of Europe debate out in force
Campaigners on both sides of the vote on whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union crisscrossed the country yesterday, their last chance to win support from the undecided.
Prime Minister David Cameron outlined his vision for a future with Britain retaining its place in the 28nation bloc, bristling at the notion that the country would be headed in the wrong direction if it stayed in.
He flatly rejected the charge that the institution is moribund.
“We are not shackled to a corpse,” Cameron told the BBC. “You can see the European economy’s recovery. It’s the largest single market in the world.”
The most notable figure in the “leave” campaign, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, kicked off a whirlwind tour of England as he pushed for a British exit - or Brexit. Touring the Billingsgate Fish Market, Johnson mugged for the cameras with fish in hand - a not-so-subtle reminder that this is an island nation - and one very proud of its independence and self-assurance.
“It’s time to have a totally new relationship with our friends and partners across the Channel,” Johnson said. “It’s time to speak up for democracy, and hundreds of millions of people around Europe agree with us. It’s time to break away from the failing and dysfunctional EU system.”
Britain goes to the polls today after a campaign that has been both heated and complicated. The reach of the EU into every aspect of life has meant that all sorts of groups - from scientists to CEOs - have registered opinions on whether to stay or go.
The stakes are high as the vote is final - unlike an election in which the results can be reversed in the next term. However, the vote is not legally binding, and Parliament would have to vote to repeal the law that brought Britain into the EU in the first place.
A vote to leave would invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which allows a member state to withdraw. The article has never been invoked.