Govt agrees to reword EU vote question

The Government has agreed to change the wording of the European Union independence referendum question.

The vote was put in law by the EU Referendum Bill earlier this year, with the British public set to be asked “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”. The referendum will be held by the end of 2017.

However, the Electoral Commission warned that the wording could be perceived as biased towards remaining in the EU.

As a result, it proposed asking instead, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union?”

The Government has now agreed to amend the wording in line with the commission’s recommendations.

“The Prime Minister’s objective has always been clear – to give people a very clear and simple choice,” a No 10 spokeswoman told the BBC.

“We believe that will still be achieved with the recommendation from the Electoral Commission today.”

The Bill will be formally changed through an amendment in the autumn.

The Electoral Commission says: “There were two main reasons why consultation respondents and research participants viewed the question as biased – it only sets out the ‘remain’ option in the question, and the ‘yes’ response is for the status quo.

“Consequently, while the question is not significantly leading, we have concerns about the perception that this question will encourage voters to consider one response more favourably than another.”