EU Referendum

The UK's vote on Europe: Then and now

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPrior to the 1975 European Economic Community referendum, people shared their views on how they will vote.

On Thursday 23 June the UK will vote in its first referendum in more than 40 years on whether or not it should remain as a member of the European Union (EU).

In 1975, the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson asked the country if it should stay or exit the European Economic Community (EEC) (Common Market).

Then, the UK chose to remain in - but how will people vote this time around?

Voters in the 1975 referendum look back on their decisions and consider how they will vote later this month.


Janet Anderson, Rolleston Park, Leicestershire

1975 Voted to leave the EEC - 2016 Will vote to leave the EU

Image copyright Janet Anderson

I remember the 1950s after the war and the period of austerity we had.

People thought we were joining the Common Market to get better deals in buying and selling goods.

But I thought we would not be given a fair chance.

I was a nurse in the health service and saw it being run down, I also saw a growing use of cheap labour from abroad.

If we stay in the EU we will be dragged down because we have to bail out countries in trouble such as Greece, Spain and Italy.

I think financially, the euro is dead in the water - at least we kept the pound.

Politically, we are becoming a European state led by the largest nation, Germany, and everything my family fought for in the war will be lost.

Its manufacturing base is bigger than ours and they will dominate and will be calling the shots, so I think it is time we were out.

Also, I think European corporations will impose their own rules that will supersede ours.

I don't want our laws dissolved - we've given up too much of our sovereignty already.

I'm fearful people who haven't lived through the austerity after the war won't understand.

They are not being given the information to make an informed choice.


Martyn Evans, Cockermouth, Cumbria

1975 Voted to remain in the EEC - 2016 Will vote to remain in the EU

Image copyright Martyn Evans

I think we are better off as a major part of the European market than out of it.

We trade with the EU a lot and it would be more expensive to come out in the short-term.

I am 70 and have adult children, and I want to support the option to expand their horizons and opportunities rather than narrow them.

My children are in their 20s and they can work anywhere in the EU - one of them wants to work in Germany. This would not be a problem if we are EU members.

In Cumbria, EU money has helped fund various things in my community such as renovating harbours in Workington and Maryport and building community centres and it has been vital in supporting local farmers.

Also, a project funded by the EU has helped to boost broadband speeds in rural areas.

Tourism in the area has also been assisted by EU money.

If we leave, we would have to find all of the funding for projects - without it nothing would have been done.

Culturally, I feel European. I've been to the United States often but to me it feels foreign.

We've got a lot in common with Europe despite the language barriers.

But there are things we can learn. The EU could be more accountable to people.

There is a league table of how MEPs are doing in the European Parliament. We could do something similar here!

The EU is not perfect but what institutions are? It can only learn to do better.


David Horn, Dunmow, Essex

1975 Voted to remain in the EEC - 2016 Will vote to leave the EU

Image copyright David Horn

My life now is very different from in 1975.

Then I was an unmarried employee at 22 who had just become a homeowner.

Now I'm a 63-year-old grandparent and company owner.

I voted to remain in the Common Market because I thought it would be beneficial to the UK.

June's referendum is different as it is about staying in the EU rather than the Common Market.

As a business owner I export to Europe - about 20%-30% of business trade is with the continent, but we also trade with the rest of the world.

We're not in the euro which was a good decision made by the government.

But Europe should not make the rules for Britain - we should be independent.

I am against the EU overriding the rules we make in this country and I feel our autonomy is being taken away from us.

I am also against a federal Europe.


EU referendum 2016: Are you in or out?

See why people will vote to remain or leave the EU

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEU referendum: Are you in or out?

Katherine Mytton, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire

1975 Voted to leave the EEC - 2016 Will vote to remain in the EU

I voted to come out of the EEC in 1975 in my first opportunity to cast my democratic vote (I've never missed a vote since).

But this time I shall be voting to remain in the EU.

I hate the way this vote has been dominated by the Conservative Party, but I love the way they are tearing themselves apart!

Any attempt at a post-referendum reconciliation would be pure hypocrisy.


Ed Harris, Leigh, Lancashire

1975 Voted to remain in the EEC - 2016 Undecided

Image copyright Ed Harris

I was 19 in 1975 and remember voting "in" as at that time it was all about trade and there were only about nine countries in it from Western Europe.

It sounded pretty good for everyone, to trade without undue infringement in the EEC, and I had no hesitation in voting yes.

This time around, I'm torn between staying in and coming out. Now the EU is such a big animal, there is a lot to consider.

I can see the benefits of being a member of the EU, but I worry about the ever-expanding size of the organisation and the problems that come with that.

I will probably make my final decision in the days before the vote.

We pay a lot into it but we get a lot out of it too.

The world has changed in 40 years. The UK is a different country now - it's more cosmopolitan and through the EU our doors are open to a lot more people.

My slight concern is about the migration issue, particularly from eastern Europe.

There has been a lot of discussion so far and that will intensify.

But apart from the odd point, both sides of the argument sound plausible.

There have been a lot of opinions aired as opposed to hard facts and a lot of speculation as to what will happen if we vote a certain way.

I think there are a lot of people who are confused.

If someone can issue an A4 document of the pros and cons with hard facts such as how much we contribute to EU against how much we get back for instance, this would help people make up their minds.


Compiled by Andree Massiah, BBC's UGC and Social News team

Related Topics

More on this story