How to explain the EU referendum to a child

On Thursday grown ups in our country, the United Kingdom, are allowed to vote on whether we stay in the European Union (EU) or not. This type of voting is called a referendum.

The European Union is like a club. All the countries that are members agree to do some things the same. For example, let people live in any of the countries also in the club, sell each other things without paying extra money, and have some of the same laws.

There are four main areas people are thinking about when deciding whether to remain a member or leave.

1) The Economy
People who want to remain think that our country will have more money if we stay in the European Union. People who want to leave think that our country will have more money if we leave the European Union. If the country has more money then we can have better services such as more doctors, nurses, libraries and schools, and there will be more jobs so people will also have more money to spend.

2) Immigration
People from countries in the EU are allowed to live and work in any other country in the EU. When people come to live in a new country it is called immigration. People who want to leave the EU think that we should only allow some people to come and live here because they don’t think we have enough space or houses or jobs for everyone and they worry it stops the United Kingdom from feeling British. People who want to stay in the EU think that anyone from the EU should have the opportunity to live in any other country and that having people from lots of countries living here makes our country more exciting because we get to share different types of food and music and art and because those people help do jobs in our country and think of ways to make life better for everyone. They also think it is the right thing to do because anyone who wants to have the opportunity to get a good job and to give their family a nice life should be allowed to. People who want to leave the EU worry that that people from countries who are not part of the EU club will come into other countries in the EU and then find it easy to get to this country. People who want to stay in the EU mainly think that if someone is unhappy in their country, either because there is war or not enough food or no jobs or because they can’t live their life the way they want to, then they should be allowed to live here while we work with other countries to make their country a safe place for people to live.

3) Workers’ Rights
Many of the laws that help people at work are because we are a member of the EU and have to have the same laws as the other countries in the EU. An example is if your mummy was allowed to have some time not working when you were a baby but still got paid, or if your parents can have holidays from work while being paid, and people not being able to work so many hours that they are too tired. People who want to leave the EU either think these laws are not important or that we don’t need the EU to help us make these laws.

4) Peace
A long time ago, probably when your grandparents’ own mummies and daddies and grandmas and grandpas were alive, there were wars in Europe and our country was involved. War is when countries fight each other. When we are in the same club like the EU it means that if countries have an argument with each other then they are more likely to sort it out by talking than by fighting. This is very important because when countries fight they use guns and bombs and people get hurt and can die. People who want to stay in the EU think that there is less chance of our country fighting other countries if we are in the same club.

Whichever way the country votes, you don’t need to worry about it. Grown ups vote for a government and it is their job to sort things out so that you are safe and can have a happy life. But it is important to understand what the grown ups are talking about and voting for, so that when you are a grown up you can have a say and make the world better for everyone.

Like this? Please share it. And if you want to explain General Elections to your child do buy our book The Election by Eleanor Levenson and Marek Jagucki, a non partisan story book for 3-8 year olds that explains about voting, elections and democracy.