LONDON – The British are taking part in a referendum that will decide whether Britain remains part of the European Union or leaves the 28-nation bloc. Here is a timeline of the events that led up to the referendum:
January 22, 2013 — Prime Minister David Cameron states that if his Conservative Party wins the next election, they will renegotiate the U.K.’s relationship with the EU and let the people choose whether to leave the bloc or to stay in the union under the renegotiated terms.
May 27, 2015 — Following the Conservatives’ general election victory, the European Union Referendum Bill is announced in the Queen’s Speech, a required step in order to call a referendum.
December 17-18, 2015 — EU leaders have frank discussions about the U.K.’s four renegotiation demands at a summit, after Cameron presents them in detail. His objectives are to restrict access to migrant benefits; to allow the U.K. to opt out of the EU’s ambition to forge an “ever-closer union”; to reduce bureaucracy; and to ensure that countries that don’t use the euro currency are not disadvantaged.
February 3, 2016 — Cameron presents his EU renegotiation plan at the House of Commons.
February 18-19, 2016 — After hours of negotiations with EU leaders in Brussels, the other 27 EU member states agree to sign Cameron’s package of reform. Cameron does not get everything he wants, but pledges to campaign with “heart and soul” to keep Britain inside the EU.
February 20, 2016 — Cameron announces that the date of the referendum will be June 23.
June 16, 2016 — Jo Cox, Labour Party lawmaker and “remain” campaigner, is fatally shot and stabbed. A 52-year-old man is arrested and charged with the murder.
June 23, 2016 — The British people go to the polling stations and answer the question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
June 24, 2016 — The result of the referendum is scheduled to be announced, most likely at breakfast time.