- Tower Bridge in London (Photo: Blake Evans-Pritchard)
The United Kingdom has a population of 61.63 million and an area of 244,000 km2. It joined the EU on 1 January 1973 without holding a referendum.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised the British voters a referendum on continued membership by 2017.
By then he hopes to have renegotiated certain sensitive topics and can present the voters for a better EU in the eyes of the British EU sceptical voters. Britain will have the Presidency in the EU just before the referendum.
- Harold Wilson's Labour government renegotiated membership conditions and held a referendum on continued membership in 1975.
- Prime Minister John Major kept Britain outside the social protocol, which was annexed to the Treaty of Maastricht in 1991.
- Prime Minister Tony Blair accepted the social protocol after "New Labour" gained power in 1997.
- The UK Government was represented in the Convention on the Future of Europe by the former minister for Europe, Peter Hain.
- In April 2004, Tony Blair accepted that the European Constitution should be adopted in the EU by a referendum.
- In 2007 Blair took away the promise of referendum and was succeeded by Gordon Brown.
- In 2008, a British businessperson Stewart Wheeler started a court case against the government to obtain a referendum. He failed.
- In the European elections in June 2009 the UKIP, party for withdrawal of the EU gained the same number of seats as the governing Labour party.
- The Conservative party leader, David Cameron, said he would call for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if he would become the prime minister before the last ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
- 3 November 2009 Vaclav Klaus signed the Treaty as the last country. Cameron then said he would negotiate certain British opt-outs.
- In July 2009, the British Conservatives initiated a new EU critical group in the European Parliament called European Conservatives and Reformists, ECR.
- In 2014 the Scots voted on possible independence from the UK. The majority of voters wanted to stay in the UK.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390554
Official websites http://www.europarl.eu.int/enlargement_new/member_states_Links_en.htm#uk