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United Kingdom European Union membership referendum facts for kids

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House baring 'vote remain' banner, Main Street, Kirk Deighton (22nd June 2016)
'Vote remain' banner in Kirk Deighton, North Yorkshire.

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum took place on 23 June 2016 in the UK and Gibraltar. It was to decide whether the United Kingdom would stay in the European Union (EU).

The referendum ended with 51.9% of votes in favour of leaving the EU.

On 24 June, the then Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign. He was replaced on 13 July by Theresa May.

The Remain campaign

Members of the Remain campaign wanted the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union. Political parties that wanted the UK to stay in the EU include the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. They said that being in the EU gave the UK many advantages in trade.

Prime Minister David Cameron supported staying in the EU, but the Conservative Party was neutral. It was up to each MP to have their own view. Other well-known Conservatives who wanted to remain in the EU include George Osborne, Theresa May and Philip Hammond.

The Leave campaign

Members of the leave campaign, commonly called Brexit, wanted the UK to leave the European Union. Political parties who supported leaving the EU include United Kingdom Independence Party,, the Respect Party and many members of the Conservative Party. Those who supported "leave" were especially concerned about the EU's "open border" policies and mass migration.

Some well known members of the Conservative party who wanted to leave the EU included Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson.

Final results

United Kingdom EU referendum 2016 area results 2-tone
     Leave      Remain By local districts
United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
Choice Votes %
Remain a member of the European Union 16,141,241 48.11
Leave the European Union 17,410,742 51.89
Total votes 33,551,983 100.00

* Total votes only include Valid votes. About 25,359 were invalid or blank. Source:

UK regional results

Region Voter turnout,
of eligible
Votes Proportion of votes
Remain Leave Remain Leave
  East Midlands 74.2% 1,033,036 1,475,479 41.18% 58.82%
  East of England 75.7% 1,448,616 1,880,367 43.52% 56.48%
  London 69.7% 2,263,519 1,513,232 59.93% 40.07%
  North East England 69.3% 562,595 778,103 41.96% 58.04%
  North West England 70% 1,699,020 1,966,925 46.35% 53.65%
  Northern Ireland 62.7% 440,707 349,442 55.78% 44.22%
  Scotland 67.2% 1,661,191 1,018,322 62.00% 38.00%
  South East England 76.8% 2,391,718 2,567,965 48.22% 51.78%
  South West England & Gibraltar 76.7% 1,503,019 1,669,711 47.37% 52.63%
  Wales 71.7% 772,347 854,572 47.47% 52.53%
  West Midlands 72% 1,207,175 1,755,687 40.74% 59.26%
  Yorkshire and the Humber 70.7% 1,158,298 1,580,937 42.29% 57.71%


Shortly after the results were announced, David Cameron said that he would resign by October 2016. After a leadership election, Theresa May became Prime Minister on 13 July.

The Scottish government announced on 24 June 2016 that they were planning to hold a second independence referendum. Northern Ireland politician Martin McGuinness also called for an Irish reunification referendum. A movement for London independence even occurred, with an online petition reaching thousands of signatures.

A "Bregret"/"Regrexit" petition was proposed by William Oliver Healey on 24 May 2016. It was made to support the creation of a second European Union membership referendum. By 25 June, more than two and a half million people signed the petition. Calls for a second referendum was later rejected by the government.

Theresa May officially triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017. This means that negotiations have started between the UK government and the European Union. These talks are expected to last 2 years and after they have finished the UK will be out of the EU.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Referéndum sobre la pertenencia del Reino Unido a la Unión Europea para niños

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