Avoid yes/no question in EU referendum, urges polls watchdog


Voters in the upcoming referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union should not be asked a "Yes/No" question, to avoid possible perceptions of bias, the country's electoral watchdog has recommended.

Following an assessment of the question proposed in legislation paving the way to a vote by the end of 2017, the Electoral Commission said voters should not be asked to answer Yes or No to the question: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?"

Instead, in its statutory advice to Parliament, the Commission recommends 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 Commission has written to the Government and all MPs urging them to change the question when the European Union Referendum Bill comes back before Parliament on September 7.

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.

'Whilst voters understood the question in the Bill some campaigners and members of the public feel the wording is not balanced and there was a perception of bias. The alternative question we have recommended addresses this.

"It is now for Parliament to discuss our advice and decide which question wording should be used."