The Conservative backbench Bill before Parliament to grant a referendum on membership of the EU has as its question:
“Do you think that the UK should be a member of the EU?”
Voters have the right to vote Yes, or No.
The Electoral Commission have now considered this draft question. They have asked is it clear enough? Is it fairly weighted? They have considered other possible wordings.
They have come up with two versions which they prefer. The first is inviting the same Yes/No answer. It is
” Should the UK remain a member of the EU?”
This is shorter than the Bill proposal. It also makes clear should anyone be in any doubt that the UK is currently a member of the EU.
The second version requires a longer supplied answer: It is
“Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU?
Voters can tick a box to say “Remain a member of the EU” or a box saying “Leave the EU”
I am happy with the wording in the current Bill. Anyone voting in the referendum will understand we are currently in the EU, and will also understand that voting No means leaving. Of the two Electoral Commission versions I prefer the shorter one.
Any amendment to the Bill slows down its passage, so has to be weighed carefully. What do you think?
PS The Electoral Commission amended the Scottish referendum question to “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. This question does not tell people in Scotland that they are not currently an independent country, and gives to the “out of the union” camp the advantage of answer Yes. Yet when it comes to the EU the Electoral Commission does wish to explain the UK is in the EU, and give Yes to those who want to stay in, not to those who want to some out. Their approach seems variable.