Britain decides: the first European referendum

On 23 June 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union. Writing ahead of the vote, historian Robert Saunders looks back at the first UK-wide referendum, held in 1975 on the United Kingdom's continued membership of the European Economic Community (EEC), and considers what we can learn from its outcome...

1st May 1975: Three documents, for and against, published for the referendum on the Common Market. The document 'Britain's New Deal in Europe' (centre) contains a recommendation by the government signed by prime minister Harold Wilson for Britain to stay in the Community. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now