Here's what the Remain and Leave campaigns claim about the key referendum issues


The Remain and Leave campaigns in the EU referendum have clashed over a range of issues, from the economy and immigration to sovereignty.

Here are some of the main issues that have been debated, and what both sides think of them.


David Cameron in front of a Remain poster
The Remain campaign claims households would be worse off out of the EU (Eddie Keogh/PA)

Remain: See the economy as their strongest argument in the campaign, and warn that leaving the EU will hit jobs and wages, push up prices, and could damage the pound. The International Monetary Fund has warned that Brexit could tip Britain into recession, and a letter signed by ten Nobel-prize winning economists warns the economic fall-out of leaving could "persist for many years".

Leave: Point to the weak economic growth in the EU and say that a Brexit would allow Britain opportunities to negotiate new and better trade deals with other markets such as China. They also say the net amount of £350 million which Britain pays to the EU could be redirected to British priorities such as the NHS.


Nigel Farage in front of a Ukip poster
This Ukip poster proved one of the most controversial moments of the debate (Philip Toscano/PA)

Remain: They say rising immigration is not simply down to Britain's membership of the EU and point out that more immigrants come from outside the EU than from within it. They also warn that leaving the EU could undermine Britain's immigration controls as France may decide to shift border controls back to Dover.

Leave: Perhaps the Leave camp's strongest calling card, immigration has come to dominate their campaign. They say that rising levels of immigration are putting a strain on public services and that Britain cannot control its borders while in the EU. Instead they argue for an Australian-style points-based system.


A Nato flag
The Leave campaign says Nato has been a more powerful force for peace than the EU (Darko Bandic/AP)

Remain: Insist that being part of the EU has helped to foster security in Europe, helping to prevent a World War Three. They argue the complex structure of European institutions has created practical arrangements for resolving conflict peacefully, and a psychological tendency to seek consensus rather then confrontation. The EU also facilitates cross border co-operation in the fight against terrorism and cyber crime, they add.

Leave: Pour scorn on the argument the EU has brokered peace in Europe, saying this is instead down to Nato. They also warn Brussels has set its sights on an EU army that could undermine security, while they say the mishandling of the eurozone and migration crises by the EU has fostered insecurity.


A Unin Jack and EU flag
The Remain campaign claims the UK would still have to abide by many EU rules even if Leave won (Yui Mok/PA)

Remain: Say that David Cameron's deal with Brussels exempts the UK from being part of "ever closer union" with the rest of the EU, and add that the fact that the referendum is taking place is a demonstration of the UK's sovereignty over its destiny. They also point out that many of the regulations from Brussels would remain in place in the event of Brexit, or would be replaced with similar domestic rules, while firms trading with the EU would still have to comply with the single market rules if Leave won.

Leave: Say silly EU laws and bureaucratic red tape are a burden on small businesses and public services, and expensive for families. David Cameron's former guru Steve Hilton has argued that membership of the European Union makes the UK "literally ungovernable" because elected politicians at Westminster cannot run the country due to the influence of Brussels. And they say that the European Court of Justice is putting the continent on a path to closer integration and undermining national sovereignty.

Foreign criminals

A driver is handcuffed by police
What happens to criminals from the EU convicted in the UK? (Joe Giddens/PA)

Remain: Say that in the last year a record number of foreign national offenders were removed from the country, including a record number of EU criminals. They say being in the EU gives the authorities access to criminal records sharing and prisoner transfer agreements which help identify and deport criminals more speedily.

Leave: Have put out a list of 50 foreign criminals they say the EU has blocked Britain from deporting, including the Italian murderer of headteacher Philip Lawrence. They say each prisoner in detention costs taxpayers over £36,000 per year - "huge sums of money" on top of the UK's contribution to the Brussels budget.

Public services

John Major
John Major provided one of the campaign's most memorable quotes (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Remain: Have cast doubt over claims made by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson that money saved from leaving the EU could be pumped into public services such as hospitals. Former Tory prime minister John Major said the "NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python" in the hands of Gove and Johnson. The TUC warned that quitting would create a short-term staffing crisis in the NHS.

Leave: Have said the billions of pounds a year that Britain pays into the EU could be diverted to British public services such as the NHS. They also say the number of EU immigrants heading to Britain every year equates to a city the size of Newcastle, placing a "big strain" on public services like hospitals, schools and housing.