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Summary

  1. BBC Reality Check gets to the facts behind the claims in the EU referendum campaign and beyond
  2. The referendum took place on 23 June 2016 - the UK voted to leave the EU
  3. On this page you will find all the checks the team has done so far

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

What does Brexit mean for the Irish border?

Reality Check

Theresa May saying: Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past.
BBC

Much will come down to what happens in the UK's negotiations to leave the EU, particularly whether freedom of movement continues. It will also be important whether the UK decides to remain part of the European Economic Area, although there are some customs checks even between Norway, which is an EEA member and Sweden, which is an EU member.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Has Jeremy Corbyn changed his mind on Article 50?

Reality Check

Jeremy Corbyn saying: I did not mean [Article 50] should be invoked on Friday morning and we should rush over to Brussels and start negotiating.
BBC

The claim: Jeremy Corbyn has performed a U-turn over when Article 50 should be triggered. 

Reality Check verdict: Mr Corbyn's message has certainly changed, either because he has changed his mind or because he misspoke on 24 June and waited a month to correct himself.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Has Boris Johnson been taken out of context?

Reality Check

Boris Johnson saying: "I think most people who read these things in their proper context can see exactly what was intended."
BBC

The claim: Boris Johnson says his remarks have been taken out of context. 

Reality Check verdict: The comment about President Obama looks slightly better with full context. The remarks about Hillary Clinton do not.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Does there have to be a second referendum?

Reality Check

Pavlos Eleftheriadis quote: A new referendum on the relations between the UK and the EU is almost certainly required under the European Union Act 2011
BBC

The claim: The referendum lock introduced by the coalition government in 2011 means that there will have to be a second referendum before the UK leaves the EU. 

Reality Check verdict: It's far from clear that there's any legal requirement for a second referendum and, even if there were, the referendum lock could be repealed.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Is the weak pound good news for hotels?

Reality Check

Rob Payne saying: We know it is early days but we are seeing a double bounce to business as a result of Brexit
BBC

The claim: The weak pound is good news for hotels in the UK. 

Reality Check verdict: The weaker pound makes visiting the UK from overseas cheaper, but hotels will also find that the weak pound increases some of their other costs. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

How many EU nationals live in the UK?

Reality Check

Chart showing EU nationals living in the UK
BBC

This week, a motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK was passed by 245 votes to two. 

It is not binding on the government, which said it would be a mistake to give guarantees to EU nationals in the UK without similar concessions for UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU. 

How do the numbers compare? 

The UK has a population of 63.7 million, of which 5.3 million (8%) are non-British, and just over half of those - 2.9 million (5%) - are from Europe. Just under 1.2 million UK nationals live elsewhere in the EU.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Is pound weaker due to market errors?

Reality Check

Andrea Leadsom saying: The pound is weaker partly as a result of the markets being wrong on the result of the referendum.
BBC

The claim: Part of the reason the pound is weaker is that the markets thought that the UK would vote to stay in the EU. 

Reality Check verdict: Currency market moves on the day of the referendum suggest that the markets did indeed predict the wrong result, but it is hard to argue that the pound would now be at a different level if they had predicted correctly.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Is the cost of borrowing at record lows?

Reality Check

Stephen Crabb saying: The price of borrowing is at record lows … it’s one of the significant policy levers a developed economy has to improve productivity.
BBC

The claim: The cost of borrowing for the UK government is at record low levels. The government should take advantage of this to improve the UK's economic performance. 

Reality Check verdict: The yield on UK government bonds has been falling to record lows, making borrowing cheaper, despite the recent cut in the UK's credit ratings. Borrowing to invest has the potential to reduce the need for future borrowing, but that's not guaranteed and it could further damage the UK's credit. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

Chart showing UK bond yields
BBC

What happens to Brits living abroad?

Reality Check

Andrea Leadsom saying: I commit today to guaranteeing the rights of our EU friends who have already come here to live and work.
BBC

The claim: Some candidates for the Conservative Party leadership have suggested that UK nationals living in the EU, and indeed EU nationals living in the UK, will automatically be able to carry on as they are after Britain leaves the EU. 

Reality Check verdict: Although politicians have so far indicated that this is likely to be the case, this issue, together with many other issues, is likely to be discussed as part of the UK exit negotiations.

Read the full Reality Check here. 

Can UK trigger Article 50 without asking Parliament?

Reality Check

Kasra Nouroozi saying: The outcome of the Referendum itself is not legally binding and for the current or future Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 without the approval of Parliament is unlawful.
BBC

The claim: The next prime minister will not be allowed to invoke Article 50 - the mechanism for leaving the European Union - unless an act of Parliament authorises them to do so. 

Reality Check verdict: It may turn out that an act of Parliament is needed before Article 50 may be triggered, but it is difficult to see how Parliament could in practice ignore the result of the referendum.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Does Britain have to leave the EU before it makes a trade deal?

Reality Check

Cecilia Malmstrom saying: "First you exit and then you negotiate the new relationship, whatever that is."
BBC

The claim: The UK has to officially leave the EU before it can make a new deal on trade.

Reality Check verdict: Under current EU rules, EU countries cannot make separate trade deals with individual member states or non-EU countries. However, there is no legal precedent for a country to leave the EU and renegotiate a trade agreement with the bloc. Legal experts say the UK could argue its official status has changed once it invokes Article 50, but this is largely hypothetical at the moment. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

How important is foreign investment?

Reality Check

Chart showing UK current account
BBC

Chancellor George Osborne has spoken about the economy being in a good state to cope with the challenges ahead because the budget deficit has been falling. But the current account deficit has been growing.

We rely on foreign investment to balance out how much more we import than export and also how much more foreign countries earn in the UK than we earn overseas.

It means prolonged uncertainty about the UK's relationship with the EU could be a problem for the economy.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Will MPs vote against Brexit?

Reality Check

The view of senior constitutional lawyers is that there has to be a bill passed by Parliament to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, before Article 50 can be invoked. Won't MPs be duty-bound to vote in whichever way they consider to be in the best interests of the country?”
BBC

The question: Graham asks: The view of senior constitutional lawyers is that there has to be a bill passed by Parliament to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, before Article 50 can be invoked. Won't MPs be duty-bound to vote in whichever way they consider to be the best interests of the country? 

The answer: Some constitutional lawyers think that there will have to be a vote in Parliament before Article 50 is invoked. 

But others say it's a prerogative power held by the Prime Minister so no vote is necessary.

Even if there is a vote, many MPs will think their primary duty is to uphold the will of the people as expressed in the referendum - even if they had personally supported Remain.

What happens if the time runs out on Article 50?

Reality Check

Matt says: Much has been made of the two year exit period that invoking Article 50 will bring. Can anyone explain what might happen if that period expires without agreement on our exit terms?
BBC

The question: Matt says: Much has been made of the two year exit period that invoking Article 50 will bring. Can anyone explain what might happen if that period expires without agreement on our exit terms? Would our membership simply cease? Or would we remain engaged to all of the terms and conditions that were in place prior at that time? 

The answer: Once Article 50 has been triggered there is a two year time limit on negotiations for a new relationship between the UK and the EU. 

If an agreement has not been approved by other member states and the European Parliament in two years, then the deadline may be extended if they all agree to it.

Otherwise, the UK simply stops being a member of the EU and its treaties will no longer apply.

But negotiations on a new relationship could continue after that point. 

You can read the full Reality Check here.

How did various ages vote?

Reality Check

John asks: How do you know how various ages voted?
BBC

The question: John asks: How do you know how various ages voted?

The answer: We will never know the actual figures for how different age groups voted. 

Like other elections, the referendum was a secret ballot. 

However, there are post-referendum polls that give a pretty good indication. 

They can't tell us the precise numbers but they're clear enough to confirm that young voters were more likely to vote Remain, and older voters more likely to vote Leave.

You can read more about what polls from before and after the referendum tell us here.

Can we change our minds on Article 50?

Reality Check

Adam asks: If the UK invokes article 50 by stating its intention to leave can we later withdraw this intention?
BBC

The question: Adam asks: If the UK invokes Article 50 by stating its intention to leave, can we later withdraw this intention if for example we don't like the deal that is negotiated or will we be compelled to leave?

The answer: There is nothing in Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, or in any other EU legal document, that would tell us what would happen if an exiting country changed its mind, after the process of leaving had started. 

A member state leaving the EU is unprecedented, so it's impossible to say what would happen if the UK decided it didn't like the deal and it wanted to stay. 

However, the signals we have had so far from both EU and UK politicians, it is unlikely that EU members would allow the UK to change its mind and stay in the EU with all its opt-outs, the rebate and so on. if it didn't like the deal on offer.

A deal like the USA?

Reality Check

John asks: Is it not right that the USA has a trade agreement with the EU? I am sure that they have not agreed to freedom of movement. So why can we not negotiate a deal like them?
BBC

The question: John asks: Is it not right that the USA has a trade agreement with the EU? I am sure that they have not agreed to freedom of movement. So why can we not negotiate a deal like them? 

The answer: The USA does not currently have a free trade deal with the EU. It is in the process of negotiating a trade agreement called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. 

The wording and details of the agreement have not been finalised, but it is indeed unlikely that it will include freedom of movement. 

The EU's deal with Canada has also been cited as a possible starting point for the UK

Both the US and Canada will get access to the single market without actually being part of it, so they will not get full access - Canada's deal, for example, excludes some food items such as eggs and chicken.

The UK could negotiate a trade deal with the EU that did not include freedom of movement, but it would be unlikely to provide the same access to the single market that it currently has. 

You can read the full Reality Check here.

A separate deal for Scotland?

Reality Check

Neil asks: Can Scotland make a deal with the EU separate to England without leaving the EU?
BBC

The question: Neil asks: Can Scotland make a deal with the EU separate to England without leaving the EU? 

The answer: We can't say for sure as this is an unprecedented situation and the treaties do not refer to this situation. 

If Scotland were to hold a second referendum, and become independent, it could apply to become a member of the EU in the usual way. And it is now more plausible that EU member states would try to speed up the process for Scotland than it would have been at the time of the 2014 independence referendum. 

We cannot say if it would be able to keep the UK's membership without going through some sort of application process, but Spain and France have both said they are opposed to holding separate talks with Scotland before the UK leaves the EU, and any deal would require unanimous backing of member states. 

You can read the full Reality Check here.

Could there be a second referendum?

Reality Check

Graeme emails to ask: Now that the EU referendum vote has been declared to leave EU, is it not possible for the government to have a second referendum vote just the same as SNP wants to have another referendum for independence.
BBC

The question: Graeme emails to ask: Now that the EU referendum vote has been declared to leave EU, is it not possible for the government to have a second referendum vote just the same as SNP wants to have another referendum for independence.

The answer: It is unlikely that there would be a second in-out referendum, not least because there is little evidence it would have a different result. 

In a post-referendum poll by ComRes, 92% of leave voters said they were happy with the outcome, while 4% of remain voters were happy (and, overall, 7% were indifferent). 

Also, MPs (with a handful of exceptions) have been rushing to say that the result of the vote must be respected. 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has suggested there may be a second referendum on the terms of an eventual deal to the leave the EU, although that is not required by current legislation. 

You can read the full Reality Check here.

Your questions answered

Reality Check

Today, the Reality Check team is answering your questions about the implications of the UK's vote to leave the European Union. 

Send us your questions and we'll answer as many as we can. 

You can get in touch by using the Get Involved button at the top of this page.

What has Brexit done to the economy?

Reality Check

A pound and euro coin on an EU flag
PA

The claim: The damage done to the economy has already been many times the value of the UK's contribution to the EU Budget. 

Reality Check verdict: There may already have been an impact on the economy or the public finances but we do not yet have data showing that. The indicative cost of borrowing for the government has actually fallen. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

Have MEPs done 'proper jobs'?

Reality Check

Nigel Farage MEP saying: "I know that virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives."
BBC

The claim: MEPs have not done "proper jobs" that benefit the economy. 

Reality Check verdict: It depends on your definition of a "proper job". Of the 14 MEPs who spoke on Tuesday, 13 have spent part of their careers outside politics. Five have worked in business or trade (including the financial services sector and private sector). Of these, four have started their own business, including Nigel Farage MEP. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

Could there be a second referendum?

Reality Check

Jeremy Hunt saying: We need to negotiate a deal and put it to the British people, either in a referendum or through the Conservative manifesto at a fresh general election.
BBC

The claim: There could be another referendum on the UK's relationship with the European Union.

Reality Check verdict: A second referendum on the UK's membership of the EU seems both unlikely to happen and unlikely to give a different result to the first one. A referendum on the deal reached for leaving the EU is possible but not required by current legislation.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Have leave campaigners changed their tune?

Reality Check

The Reality Check team looks at some of the claims and promises made during the campaign by leave campaigners, who now appear to have shifted their position on some key issues.   

MEP Nigel Farage standing in front of a poster showing a long queue of migrants.
EPA

Immigration

The campaign claim: Immigration levels could be controlled if the UK left the EU. This would relieve pressure on public services.

The current claim: Immigration levels can't be radically reduced by leaving the EU. Fears about immigration did not influence the way people voted.

Reality Check verdict: During the campaign, some Leave campaigners sent a clear message that the referendum was about controlling immigration. Some are now being more nuanced, saying the UK's decision to leave the EU would not guarantee a significant decrease in immigration levels.

Campaign bus
AFP

Contributions to the EU budget

The campaign claim: We send £350m a week to Brussels, which could be spent on the NHS instead.

The current claim: The claim was a mistake, and we will not be able to spend that much extra on the NHS.

Reality Check verdict: Some of those who campaigned for Leave are now distancing themselves from this claim. Some have gone as far as admitting that it had been a mistake.

Shipping containers
AFP

The single market

The campaign claim: Some on the Leave side suggested the UK does not need preferential access to the single market.

The current claim: The UK should get preferential access to the single market but will not have to accept freedom of movement to get it.

Reality Check verdict: The position has shifted from claims the UK could trade under World Trade Organisation rules to one which suggests the UK will continue to have preferential access to the single market, but at the same time having some control over immigration levels.

Read the full Reality Check here. 

Does the UK have to trigger Article 50?

Reality Check

Chancellor George Osborne saying: "Only the UK can trigger Article 50. We should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangements we are seeking with our European neighbours."
BBC

The claim: The UK does not have to start the formal process of leaving the EU until a time of its choosing.

Reality Check verdict: There is no legal limit on how long the UK can wait before it invokes the article. The article states that the exit negotiations would take up to two years but may be extended if all the EU countries agree unanimously that more time is needed.

Read the full Reality Check here. 

Could there be free trade without free movement?

Reality Check

Chris Grayling saying: We need a free trade agreement with the European Union, which allows us to control the flow of people into and out of the country.
BBC

The claim: There could be a free trade agreement between the UK and the European Union that allows the UK to limit freedom of movement. 

Reality Check verdict: The UK can aim for a deal that allows full preferential access to the single market without having to accept freedom of movement, but no country has managed such a deal so far and some European politicians have said they would oppose it.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Will there be a referendum for a united Ireland?

Martin McGuinness saying: "I do believe that there is a democratic imperative for a 'border poll' to be held."
BBC

The claim: Following the UK's decision to leave the EU, Northern Ireland could hold a border poll on the reunification of Ireland. 

Reality Check verdict: The circumstances required to trigger a reunification vote have not been met. We cannot predict whether the UK's decision to leave the EU will change this. It seems unlikely - recent opinion polls suggest reunification would not be supported by the majority of people in Northern Ireland.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Could Scotland inherit the UK's EU membership?

Reality Check

Alex Salmond saying: "Scotland would have the option of remaining within Europe while the rest of the UK left."
BBC

The claim: An independent Scotland could remain a member of the European Union while the rest of the UK left, in effect taking over Britain's membership of the EU rather than having to start a fresh application to join as a new country.

Reality Check verdict: The situation is unclear. If Scotland were to hold a second referendum, and become independent, it could apply to become a member of the EU in the usual way. And it is now more plausible that EU member states would try to speed up the process for Scotland than it would have been at the time of the 2014 independence referendum. But we cannot say if it would be able to continue as a member without going through some sort of application process.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Do I need a new passport?

Reality Check

Nigel Farage holding a passport
Getty Images

The Reality Check team answers your questions about passports, EHIC, visas and whether EU nationals will be allowed to stay in the UK.

The short answer is that almost nothing will change until the negotiations to leave the European Union have been completed.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Best claims of the campaign

Reality Check

As we near the end of the last full day of campaigning in the EU referendum, Theo Leggett looks back at some of the most memorable claims the team's had to tackle. 

Our correspondent Theo Leggett looks back at some of the top claims of the #EUref campaign

What would Brexit mean for medicines?

Hugh Pym

BBC News Health Editor

A laboratory
Getty Images

BBC News Health Editor Hugh Pym asks what Britain leaving the European Union would mean for medicines and clinical trials.

Would the the European Medicines Agency leave its London base? Would the UK be better off without the Clinical Trials Directive?

You can read the full Reality Check here.

What has the EU meant for disability rights?

Reality Check

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson saying: "Leaving the EU would prevent British people with disabilities from benefiting from upcoming legislation on disability."
BBC

The claim: Former Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson says that "leaving the EU would prevent British people with disabilities from benefiting from upcoming legislation on accessibility".

Reality Check verdict: If Britain left the EU, it wouldn't benefit from future EU legislation. The EU has been influential in the development of disability rights legislation, but leaving would not necessarily mean those rights would be lost.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Good night

Participants in the Great Debate
BBC

That's all from our fact-checking of the Great Debate.

Hope you've enjoyed it!

13% of our laws from Europe?

Reality Check

Ruth Davidson talking about rules and regulations coming from the EU
BBC

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson got in an argument with Andrea Leadsom about how many of our rules come from Europe. 

"[She] said 60% of our laws are made in Europe, and it's simply not true - 13% of our laws, according to the independent House of Commons Library, that number is 13%."

The 13% figure refers to laws, rather than rules and regulations, which was what Andrea Leadsom referred to.

But you could make a decent argument for any figure between about 13% and 60%.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Do three million jobs depend on the EU?

Reality Check

Frances O'Grady making the three million jobs claim
BBC

TUC leader Frances O’Grady says: “You have a fantastic market that gives you real bargaining power in the global economy – of 500 million people, on which 3 million jobs depend…”

The claim that three million jobs depend on the EU has been around for years, but its methodology is questionable. 

It is based on working out what proportion of the country's total economic output was made up of exports to the EU and then calculating that proportion of the UK labour force.

It is clear not all of these jobs are dependent on the UK remaining part of the EU - nobody is suggesting all exports to other EU countries would immediately stop if the UK left.  

Read the full Reality Check here.

Did a million die in the Balkans?

Reality Check

Boris Johnson talking about the Balkans
BBC

Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson says: “I remember vividly when the EU was given the task of trying to sort out what was happening in the Balkans… it was a disaster. About a million people died.”

The wars between the countries of the former Yugoslavia were indeed very bloody, but the total number of those how lost their lives was nowhere near a million.   

In the Bosnian war (1992-95) an estimated 100,000 people were killed.

There was also a war in Croatia (1991-95) which claimed an estimated 20,000 lives, while the wars in Slovenia (1991), Kosovo (1999) and Macedonia (2001) added several thousand between them, but not enough to take the toll anywhere near one million.

How would Brexit affect the Irish border?

Reality Check

Frances O'Grady talking about the Irish border
BBC

TUC leader Frances O'Grady quotes the Irish Prime Minister saying that if we come out of the EU there will have to be border controls.

What happens to the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would be down to negotiations following a vote to leave the EU.

The UK and Ireland entered into a Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement in 1923, long before the European Community was formed.

It is an informal travel arrangement that means that no passport controls are in operation for Irish and UK citizens travelling between the two countries. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

Does the EU want complete political union?

Reality Check

Andrea Leadsom saying they want to see complete political union
BBC

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom has been talking about the Five Presidents Report, which she says shows that "by 2025 they want to see complete fiscal and political union of all 28 EU member states".

This is wrong for two reasons: first, the report only makes proposals for the eurozone countries, not for the 28 member states, and second, the presidents do not propose a complete fiscal and political union. 

They certainly do not envisage one government with one treasury as this claim would lead you to believe. The report does have a paragraph entitled “A euro area treasury”, which says that decisions for the eurozone will increasingly have to be made collectively, but it also says that “euro area member states would continue to decide on taxation and the allocation of budgetary expenditures according to national preferences and political choices”.  

Is Britain safer in or out of the EU?

Reality Check

Bingo? So close we'll let you have it

Reality Check