Referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union
On this page you can find out about the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union (EU).
Our focus is on voters and on putting their interests first.
Our objectives for referendums are that:
- they should be well-run and produce results that are accepted
- there should be integrity and transparency of campaign funding and expenditure
EU referendum result
The final national totals for the EU referendum are:
- Remain – 16,141,241
- Leave – 17,410,742
Reports on the EU referendum
Report on the regulation of campaigners at the EU referendum
We have found that that rules put in place specifically for the EU referendum worked well. We set out a number of recommendations for changes to be incorporated into the legislation that underpins UK-wide referendums.
Report on how the EU referendum was run
Our report on the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU looks at the key issues that arose on the way to polling day, including the conduct of campaigners and our regulation of them, and provides data on the views of voters and the experience they had throughout this period.
In addition to our comprehensive report, the Commission has also published reports on:
- independent survey of electoral administrators (PDF)
- independent survey of registered campaigners (PDF)
- an evaluation of the Commission’s public awareness campaigns ahead of the May polls and the referendum (PDF)
- feedback on the international observers’ scheme run by the Electoral Commission (PDF)
We have specific responsibilities and functions in relation to the delivery and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA).
These apply to any referendum Bill brought before the UK Parliament unless specifically stated otherwise.
Our responsibilities under PPERA include:
- Commenting on the intelligibility of the referendum question.
- Registering organisations or individuals who want to campaign in the referendum.
- Monitoring spending on referendum campaigning, in line with the referendum spending limits imposed by PPERA.
- Considering applications for designation as lead campaign groups for each referendum outcome.
- Ensuring that designated organisations (if appointed) have access to certain assistance.
- Reporting on the administration of the referendum and referendum campaign spending.
The Chair of the Commission, or someone they appoint, must act as Chief Counting Officer for the referendum and is responsible for certifying the outcome of the referendum.
EU Referendum Act
The European Union Referendum Act (the Act) received Royal Assent on 17 December 2015 and was brought into force on Monday 1 February 2016.
The Act makes additions and amendments to the framework set out in PPERA to establish a regulatory framework for a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
Designating lead campaigners
A designated lead campaigner is the lead campaign group for one side of the debate. It will act as the lead campaign group on behalf of those campaigning for that outcome.
On 13 April 2016, we designated The In Campaign Ltd as the lead campaigner for the remain outcome and Vote Leave Ltd as the lead campaigner for the Leave outcome at the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
Guidance for EU referendum campaigners
We register campaigners in the EU referendum and provide advice and guidance on the spending and donations rules that campaigners must follow. Our guidance is available to help campaigners comply with the rules.
We carried out an assessment of the referendum question, to make sure that it is clear and easy for voters to understand.