Parliament Act 1911
The Parliament Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which make up the two Houses of Parliament; the Parliament Act 1949 provides that the Parliament Act 1911 and the Parliament Act 1949 are to be construed together "as one" in their effects and that the two Acts may be cited together as the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. Following the House of Lords' rejection of the 1909 "People's Budget", the House of Commons sought to establish its formal dominance over the House of Lords, which had broken convention in opposing the bill; the budget was passed by the Lords, after the Commons' democratic mandate was confirmed by holding elections in January 1910. The following Parliament Act, which looked to prevent a recurrence of the budget problems, was widely opposed in the House of Lords and cross-party discussion failed because of the proposed Act's applicability to passing an Irish home rule bill.
Following a second general election in December, the Act was passed with the support of the monarch, George V, who threatened to create a sufficient number of Liberal peers to overcome the Conservative majority. The Act removed the right of the House of Lords to veto money bills and replaced its right of veto over other public bills with the ability to delay them for a maximum of two years, it reduced the maximum term of a parliament from seven years to five. Until the Parliament Act 1911, there was no way to resolve disagreements between the two houses of Parliament except through the creation of additional peers by the monarch. Queen Anne had created twelve Tory peers to vote through the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713; the Reform Act 1832 had been passed when the House of Lords dropped their opposition to it: William IV had threatened to create eighty new peers by request of the prime minister, Earl Grey. This created an informal convention that the Lords would give way when the public was behind the House of Commons.
For example, Irish disestablishment, a major point of contention between the two main parties since the 1830s, was passed by the Lords in 1869 after Queen Victoria intervened and W. E. Gladstone won the 1868 election on the issue. However, in practice, this gave the Lords a right to demand that such public support be present and to decide the timing of a general election, it was the prevailing wisdom that the House of Lords could not amend money bills, since only the House of Commons had the right to decide upon the resources the monarch could call upon. This did not, prevent it from rejecting such bills outright. In 1860, with the repeal of the paper duties, all money bills were consolidated into a single budget; this denied the Lords the ability to reject individual components, the prospect of voting down the entire budget was unpalatable. It was only in 1909. Prior to the Act, the Lords had had rights equal to those of the Commons over legislation but, by convention, did not utilise its right of veto over financial measures.
There had been an overwhelming Conservative-Unionist majority in the Lords since the Liberal split in 1886. With the Liberal Party attempting to push through significant welfare reforms with considerable popular support, problems seemed certain to arise in the relationship between the houses. Between 1906 and 1909, several important measures were watered down or rejected outright: for example, Augustine Birrell introduced the Education Bill 1906, intended to address nonconformist grievances arising from the Education Act 1902, but it was amended by the Lords to such an extent that it became a different bill, whereupon the Commons dropped it; this led to a resolution in the House of Commons on 26 June 1907, put forward by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman, declaring that the Lords' power ought to be curtailed. In 1909, hoping to force an election, the Lords rejected the financial bill based on the government budget put forward by David Lloyd George, by 350 votes to 75; this action, according to the Commons, was "a breach of the constitution and a usurpation of the rights of the Commons".
The Lords suggested that the Commons demonstrate at the polls the veracity of its claim that the bill represented the will of the people. The Liberal government sought to do so through the January 1910 general election, their representation in parliament dropped but they retained a majority with the help of a significant number of Irish Parliamentary Party and Labour MPs. The IPP saw the continued power of the Lords as detrimental to securing Irish Home Rule. Following the election, the Lords relented on the budget, it passed the Lords on 28 April, a day after the Commons vote; the Lords was now faced with the prospect of a Parliament Act, which had considerable support from the Irish Nationalists. A series of meetings between the Liberal government and Unionist opposition members was agreed. Twenty-one such meetings were held between 10 November; the discussions considered a wide range of proposals, with initial agreement on finance bills and on a joint sitting of the Commons and the Lords as a means by which to enforce Commons superiority in controversial areas.
However, the issue of home rule for Ireland was the main contention, with Unionists looking to exempt such a law from the Parliament Act procedure by means of a general exception for
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, domestically as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; the two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England, the Lords Temporal, consisting of life peers, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, of 92 hereditary peers, sitting either by virtue of holding a royal office, or by being elected by their fellow hereditary peers.
Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections to 650 single member constituencies held at least every five years under the first-past-the-post system; the two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London. By constitutional convention, all government ministers, including the Prime Minister, are members of the House of Commons or, less the House of Lords and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature. Most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. However, the Leader of the House of Lords must be a peer; the Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, both Acts of Union stating, "That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled The Parliament of Great Britain".
At the start of the 19th century, Parliament was further enlarged by Acts of Union ratified by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland that abolished the latter and added 100 Irish MPs and 32 Lords to the former to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", five years after the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922. With the global expansion of the British Empire, the UK Parliament has shaped the political systems of many countries as ex-colonies and so it has been called the "Mother of Parliaments". However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it in reference to the political culture of "England" rather than just the parliamentary system. In theory, the UK's supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited to only delaying legislation.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created on 1 January 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion. Many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, the electoral system for the House of Commons was progressively regularised.
No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive. The supremacy of the British House of Commons was reaffirmed in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget", which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners; the House of Lords, which consisted of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; when the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers, so as to erase the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.
The Parliament Act 1911, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill, allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions, after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, t
Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others, a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy royal assent is considered to be little more than a formality. While the power to veto a law by withholding royal assent was once exercised by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been rare since the eighteenth century. Royal assent is sometimes associated with elaborate ceremonies. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the sovereign may appear in the House of Lords or may appoint Lords Commissioners, who announce that royal assent has been granted at a ceremony held at the Palace of Westminster for this purpose. However, royal assent is granted less ceremonially by letters patent. In other nations, such as Australia, the governor-general signs a bill. In Canada, the governor general may give assent either in person at a ceremony held in the Senate or by a written declaration notifying parliament of their agreement to the bill.
Before the Royal Assent by Commission Act 1541 became law, assent was always required to be given by the sovereign in person before Parliament. The last time royal assent was given by the sovereign in person in Parliament was in the reign of Queen Victoria at a prorogation on 12 August 1854; the Act was repealed and replaced by the Royal Assent Act 1967. However section 1 of that Act does not prevent the sovereign from declaring assent in person if he or she so desires. Royal assent is the final step required for a parliamentary bill to become law. Once a bill is presented to the sovereign or the sovereign's representative, he or she has the following formal options: the sovereign may grant royal assent, thereby making the bill an Act of Parliament; the sovereign may delay the bill's assent through the use of his or her reserve powers, thereby vetoing the bill. The sovereign may refuse royal assent on the advice of her ministers; the last bill, refused assent by the sovereign was the Scottish Militia Bill during Queen Anne's reign in 1708.
Under modern constitutional conventions, the sovereign acts on, in accordance with, the advice of his or her ministers. However, there is some disagreement among scholars as to whether the monarch should withhold royal assent to a bill if advised to do so by her ministers. Since these ministers most enjoy the support of parliament and obtain the passage of bills, it is improbable that they would advise the sovereign to withhold assent. Hence, in modern practice, the issue has never arisen, royal assent has not been withheld; the sovereign is believed not to have the power to withhold assent from a bill against the advice of ministers. Legislative power was exercised by the sovereign acting on the advice of the Curia regis, or Royal Council, in which important magnates and clerics participated and which evolved into parliament. In 1265, the Earl of Leicester irregularly called a full parliament without royal authorisation. Membership of the so-called Model Parliament, established in 1295 under Edward I included bishops, earls, two knights from each shire and two burgesses from each borough.
The body came to be divided into two branches: bishops, abbots and barons formed the House of Lords, while the shire and borough representatives formed the House of Commons. The King would seek the consent of both houses before making any law. During Henry VI's reign, it became regular practice for the two houses to originate legislation in the form of bills, which would not become law unless the sovereign's assent was obtained, as the sovereign was, still remains, the enactor of laws. Hence, all Acts include the clause "Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, by the authority of the same, as follows...". The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 provide a second potential preamble if the House of Lords were to be excluded from the process; the power of parliament to pass bills was thwarted by monarchs. Charles I dissolved parliament in 1629, after it passed motions and bills critical of—and seeking to restrict—his arbitrary exercise of power.
During the eleven years of personal rule that followed, Charles performed dubious actions such as raising taxes without Parliament's approval. After the English Civil War, it was accepted that parliament should be summoned to meet but it was still commonplace for monarchs to refuse royal assent to bills. In 1678, Charles II withheld his assent from a bill "for preserving the Peace of the Kingdom by raising the Militia, continuing them in Duty for Two and Forty Days," suggesting that he, not parliament, should control the militia; the last Stuart monarch, Anne withheld on 11 March 1708, on the advice of her ministers, her assent to the Scottish Militia Bill. No monarch has since withheld royal assent on a bill passed by the British parliament. During the rule of the succeeding Hanoverian dynasty, power was exercised more by parliament and the government; the first Hanoverian monarch, George I, relied on his ministers to a greater extent than had previous monarchs. Hanoverian monarchs attempted to restore royal control over legislation: G
1975 United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum
The United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum known variously as the Referendum on the European Community, the Common Market referendum and EEC membership referendum, took place under the provisions of the Referendum Act 1975 on 5 June 1975 in the United Kingdom to gauge support for the country's continued membership of the European Communities — known at the time as the European Community and the Common Market — which it had entered two and a half years earlier on 1 January 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath. Labour's manifesto for the October 1974 general election had promised that the people would decide through the ballot box whether to remain in the EC; this was the first national referendum to be held throughout the entire United Kingdom and remained the only UK-wide referendum until the 2011 referendum on alternative voting was held thirty-six years and was the only referendum to be held on the UK's relationship with Europe until the 2016 referendum on continued EU membership.
The electorate expressed significant support for EC membership, with 67% in favour on a national turnout of 64%. The referendum result was not binding. In a 1975 pamphlet Prime Minister Harold Wilson said: "I ask you to use your vote. For it is your vote; the Government will accept your verdict." The pamphlet said: "Now the time has come for you to decide. The Government will accept your decision — whichever way it goes." The February 1974 general election had yielded a Labour minority government, which won a majority in the October 1974 general election. Labour pledged in its February 1974 manifesto to renegotiate the terms of British accession to the EC, to consult the public on whether Britain should stay in the EC on the new terms, if they were acceptable to the government; the Labour Party had feared the consequences of EC membership, such as the large differentials between the high price of food under the Common Agricultural Policy and the low prices prevalent in Commonwealth markets, as well as the loss of both economic sovereignty and the freedom of governments to engage in socialist industrial policies, party leaders stated their opinion that the Conservatives had negotiated unfavourable terms for Britain.
The EC heads of government agreed to a deal in Dublin on 11 March 1975. On 9 April the House of Commons voted by 396 to 170 to continue within the Common Market on the new terms. Along with these developments, the government drafted a Referendum Bill, to be moved in case of a successful renegotiation; the referendum debate and campaign was an unusual time in British politics and was the third national vote to be held in seventeen months. During the campaign, the Labour Cabinet was split and its members campaigned on each side of the question, an unprecedented breach of Cabinet collective responsibility. Most votes in the House of Commons in preparation for the referendum were only carried after opposition support, the Government faced several defeats on technical issues such as the handling and format of the referendum counts; when the European Coal and Steel Community was instituted in 1952, the United Kingdom decided not to become a member. The UK was still absent when the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, creating the European Economic Community.
However, in the late 1950s the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan changed its attitude and appointed Edward Heath to submit an application and lead negotiations for Britain to enter the Common Market. The application was made at a meeting of the EC in January 1963, but the French president Charles de Gaulle rebuffed and vetoed Britain's request. Despite the veto, Britain restarted talks with the European Communities countries in 1967. Heath included negotiating membership in the 1970 Conservative manifesto. Heath became Prime Minister, led many of the negotiations: he struck up a friendship with the new French president Georges Pompidou, who oversaw the lifting of the veto and thus paved the way for UK membership. Between 21 and 28 October 1971 the House of Commons debated whether or not the UK should become a member of the EC, with Prime Minister Edward Heath commenting just before the vote: The House of Commons voted 356-244 in favour of the motion, with the Prime Minister commenting straight afterwards on behalf of the house.
No referendum was held when Britain agreed to an accession treaty on 22 January 1972 or when the European Communities Act 1972 went through the legislative process, on the grounds that to hold one would be unconstitutional. The United Kingdom joined the European Communities on 1 January 1973, along with Denmark and the Republic of Ireland; the EC would become the European Union. Throughout this period, the Labour Party was divided, both on the substantive issue of EC accession and on the question of whether accession ought to be approved by referendum. In 1971 pro-Market figures such as Roy Jenkins, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said a Labour government would have agreed to the terms of accession secured by the Con
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name now given to the agreement which led to the creation of the new state of Great Britain, stating that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain", At the time it was more referred to as the Articles of Union. The details of the Treaty were agreed on 22 July 1706, separate Acts of Union were passed by the parliaments of England and Scotland to put the agreed Articles into effect; the political union took effect on 1 May 1707. Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, died without issue on 24 March 1603, the throne fell at once to her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, a member of House of Stuart and the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots. By the Union of the Crowns in 1603 he assumed the throne of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Ireland as King James I; this personal union lessened the constant English fears of Scottish cooperation with France in a feared French invasion of England.
After this personal union, the new monarch, James I and VI, sought to unite the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England into a state which he referred to as "Great Britain". Acts of Parliament attempting to unite the two countries failed in 1606, in 1667, in 1689. Beginning in 1698, the Company of Scotland sponsored the Darien scheme, an ill-fated attempt to establish a Scottish trading colony in the Isthmus of Panama, collecting from Scots investments equal to one-quarter of all the money circulating in Scotland at the time. In the face of opposition by English commercial interests, the Company of Scotland raised subscriptions in Amsterdam and London for its scheme. For his part, King William III had given only lukewarm support to the Scottish colonial endeavour. England was at war with France, hence did not want to offend Spain, which claimed the territory as part of New Granada. England was under pressure from the London-based East India Company, anxious to maintain its monopoly over English foreign trade.
It therefore forced the Dutch investors to withdraw. Next, the East India Company threatened legal action, on the grounds that the Scots had no authority from the king to raise funds outside the king's realm, obliged the promoters to refund subscriptions to the Hamburg investors; this Scotland itself. The colonisation ended in a military confrontation with the Spanish in 1700, but most colonists died of tropical diseases; this was an economic disaster for the Scottish ruling class investors and diminished the resistance of the Scottish political establishment to the idea of political union with England. It supported the union, despite some popular opposition and anti-union riots in Edinburgh and elsewhere. Deeper political integration had been a key policy of Queen Anne since she had acceded to the thrones of the three kingdoms in 1702. Under the aegis of the Queen and her ministers in both kingdoms, in 1705 the parliaments of England and Scotland agreed to participate in fresh negotiations for a treaty of union.
It was agreed that England and Scotland would each appoint thirty-one commissioners to conduct the negotiations. The Scottish Parliament began to arrange an election of the commissioners to negotiate on behalf of Scotland, but in September 1705, the leader of the Country Party, the Duke of Hamilton, who had attempted to obstruct the negotiation of a treaty, proposed that the Scottish commissioners should be nominated by the Queen, this was agreed. In practice, the Scottish commissioners were nominated on the advice of the Duke of Queensberry and the Duke of Argyll. Of the Scottish commissioners who were subsequently appointed, twenty-nine were members of the governing Court Party, while one was a member of the Squadron Volante. At the head of the list was Queensberry himself, with the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, the Earl of Seafield. George Lockhart of Carnwath, a member of the opposition Cavalier Party, was the only commissioner opposed to union; the thirty-one English commissioners included government ministers and officers of state, such as the Lord High Treasurer, the Earl of Godolphin, the Lord Keeper, Lord Cowper, a large number of Whigs who supported union.
Most Tories in the Parliament of England were not in favour of a union, only one was among the commissioners. Negotiations between the English and Scottish commissioners began on 16 April 1706 at the Cockpit-in-Court in London; the sessions opened with speeches from William Cowper, the English Lord Keeper, from Lord Seafield, the Scottish Lord Chancellor, each describing the significance of the task. The commissioners did not carry out their negotiations face in separate rooms, they communicated their proposals and counter-proposals to each other in writing, there was a blackout on news from the negotiations. Each side had its own particular concerns. Within a few days, England gained a guarantee that the Hanoverian dynasty would succeed Queen Anne to the Scottish crown, Scotland received a guarantee of access to colonial markets, in the hope that they would be placed on an equal footing in terms of trade. After the negotiations ended on 22 July 1706, acts of parliament were drafted by both Parliaments to implement the agreed Articles of Union.
The Scottish proponents of union believed that failure to agree to the Articles would result in the imposition of a union under less favourable terms, English troops were stationed just south of the Scottish border and in northern Ireland as an "encouragement". Months of fierce debate in both capital cities and throughout both kingdoms followed. In Scotland, the debate on occasion dissolved int
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum
The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum known as the EU referendum and the Brexit referendum, took place on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar to ask the electorate if the country should remain a member of, or leave the European Union, under the provisions of the European Union Referendum Act 2015 and the Political Parties and Referendums Act 2000. The referendum resulted in 51.9% of votes being in favour of leaving the EU. Although the referendum was non-binding, the government of that time had promised to implement the result, it initiated the official EU withdrawal process on 29 March 2017, meaning that the UK was due to leave the EU before 11PM on 29 March 2019, UK time, when the two-year period for Brexit negotiations expired. Membership of the EU and its predecessors has long been a topic of debate in the United Kingdom; the country joined what were the three European Communities, principally the European Economic Community, in 1973. A previous referendum on continued membership of the European Communities was held in 1975, it was approved by 67.2% of those who voted.
In May 2015, in accordance with a Conservative Party manifesto commitment following their victory at the 2015 UK general election, the legal basis for a referendum on EU membership was established by the UK Parliament through the European Union Referendum Act 2015. Britain Stronger in Europe was the official group campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU, was endorsed by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. Vote Leave was the official group campaigning for the UK to leave the EU, was fronted by the Conservative MP Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove and Labour MP Gisela Stuart. Other campaign groups, political parties, trade unions and prominent individuals were involved, each side had supporters from across the political spectrum. After the result, financial markets reacted negatively worldwide, Cameron announced that he would resign as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, having campaigned unsuccessfully for a "Remain" vote.
It was the first time that a national referendum result had gone against the preferred option of the UK Government. Cameron was succeeded by Home Secretary Theresa May on 13 July 2016; the opposition Labour Party faced a leadership challenge as a result of the EU referendum. Several campaign groups and parties have been fined by the Electoral Commission for campaign finance irregularities, with the fines imposed on Leave. EU and BeLeave constrained by the cap on the commission's fines. There is an ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the referendum; the European Communities were formed in the 1950s – the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community in 1957. The EEC, the more ambitious of the three, came to be known as the "Common Market"; the UK first applied to join them in 1961. A application was successful, the UK joined in 1973. Political integration gained greater focus when the Maastricht Treaty established the European Union in 1993, which incorporated the European Communities.
Prior to the 2010 general election, the Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron had given a "cast iron" promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which he backtracked on after all EU countries had ratified the treaty before the election. When they attended the May 2012 NATO summit meeting, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ed Llewellyn discussed the idea of using a European Union referendum as a concession to energise the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party. Cameron promised in January 2013 that, should the Conservatives win a parliamentary majority at the 2015 general election, the British government would negotiate more favourable arrangements for continuing British membership of the EU, before holding a referendum on whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU; the Conservative Party published a draft EU Referendum Bill in May 2013, outlined its plans for renegotiation followed by an in-out vote, were the party to be re-elected in 2015.
The draft Bill stated that the referendum had to be held no than 31 December 2017. The draft legislation was taken forward as a Private Member's Bill by Conservative MP James Wharton, known as the European Union Bill 2013; the bill's First Reading in the House of Commons took place on 19 June 2013. Cameron was said by a spokesperson to be "very pleased" and would ensure the Bill was given "the full support of the Conservative Party". Regarding the ability of the bill to bind the UK Government in the 2015–20 Parliament to holding such a referendum, a parliamentary research paper noted that:The Bill provides for a referendum on continued EU membership by the end of December 2017 and does not otherwise specify the timing, other than requiring the Secretary of State to bring forward orders by the end of 2016. If no party obtained a majority at the, there might be some uncertainty about the passage of the orders in the next Parliament; the bill received its Second Reading on 5 July 2