David Cameron has ditched plans to ask voters to answer Yes or No to continued UK membership of the EU, after the electoral watchdog warned the question could create perceptions of bias.
Instead, the Prime Minister accepted the Electoral Commission’s advice that voters in the referendum promised by the end of 2017 should be asked whether they wish to remain in or leave the EU.
An amendment to be tabled by the Government when the bill returns to Parliament on September 7 will propose changing the question to: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
The responses would be “Remain a member of the European Union” or “Leave the European Union”.
The change comes after a commission assessment heard complaints that a “Yes/No” choice on the question “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” could give an advantage to campaigners for continued membership.
The Commission proposed changing the question in its statutory advice issued to Parliament, ahead of the report stage of the European Union Referendum Bill.
Commission chair Jenny Watson said: “Any referendum question must be as clear as possible so that voters understand the important choice they are being asked to make. We have tested the proposed question with voters and received views from potential campaigners, academics and plain language experts.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “We will accept the Electoral Commission’s recommendation and we will table an amendment to the bill accordingly.”