Britain has EU vote on June 23
British voters will decide in one month whether or not to deal a historic hammer blow to European integration by putting their island nation on an independent path outside the European Union.
The choice on June 23 is simple: In or Out. But the ramifications of a vote to leave are complex and uncertain.
The campaign has hardly been a model of cool, reasoned argument. 'Leave' campaigner and former London Mayor Boris Johnson has compared the EU's goals to those of Adolf Hitler, while 'Stay'-supporting Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested that a decision to leave the 28-nation bloc would please Islamic State extremists.
EU advocates argue that leaving the bloc would batter Britain's economy, costing each household thousands, while the 'Leave' side says Britain has blithely forfeited the independence it once fought so fiercely to defend - and can reclaim it only by walking away from the EU and its byzantine rules.
The prospect of a British exit - a Brexit - hangs over the future of the EU, which is already reeling from a prolonged refugee crisis, a series of lethal attacks, and a financial meltdown that has threatened the future of the euro single currency that is used by 19 member states, though not Britain.
DEEPLY PERSONAL CAMPAIGN
Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe research group, said the Brexit campaigning has been deeply personal, with voters choosing sides based on their belief in the politicians involved.
The implications of the vote are profound. Some experts believe a decision to leave could jeopardise the future of the EU itself by removing a key member, and also set in motion the possible disintegration of the United Kingdom, because Scottish voters loyal to the EU might choose to break away from Britain via a new referendum.
If Britain opts out, it would be the first major country to walk away from the EU, possibly setting a precedent for other disgruntled members.