Britain’s Brexit Referendum: Key Players
Should the U.K. stay in the European Union or go its own way? Voters are having their say in the most important referendum in modern British history. Polls close at 10 p.m. U.K. time on Thursday.
Here are the key players who have been fighting for Britain to either Leave or Remain. For more on Brexit, explore our full coverage.
Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader
Prime Minister David Cameron once sought to stop his Conservative party from "banging on about Europe." Continued displeasure toward the EU among his colleagues and surging immigration led him to renegotiate Britain's membership of the bloc and hold the referendum. Cameron has warned Brexit would "put a bomb under our economy."
Leader of the Labour Party
Already struggling in the polls, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a low-profile campaigner for staying in. He voted to leave Europe in 1975's referendum and been accused of offering only lukewarm support now.
Justice Secretary (Conservative)
Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a Conservative cabinet member, broke with his close friend Cameron to endorse the Leave campaign. Gove has argued the U.K. would be "freer, fairer and better off outside the EU."
Former Mayor of London (Conservative)
Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, said he took an "agonising" decision over whether to back Brexit before doing so. He has argued Britain needs to regain sovereignty and control of its borders, arguing the country can prosper outside. Johnson drew headlines in the campaign for likening the EU to Nazi Germany.
Chancellor of the Exchequer (Conservative)
Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne has pursued fiscal austerity since entering office in 2010 and says the subsequent economic expansion is now at risk from what he calls a "DIY recession" that Brexit could cause.
Scottish First Minister (Scottish National Party)
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, advocates remaining in the EU. She might use a vote for Brexit as a reason to start a fresh push for Scottish independence after it was defeated in a 2014 referendum.
Bank of England Governor
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney sought to avoid the politics of Brexit only to be dragged in and accused of undermining the central bank's independence. Carney warned a recession is possible and that the pound will fall if Brexit occurs.
U.K. Independence Party leader
Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, is the most vocal critic of what he calls the "euro project" and immigrants who are "coming here to take us over."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most powerful leader in Europe, having run its biggest economy since 2005. Merkel has said she would "hope and wish for the U.K. to stay part and parcel of the EU."
Francois Hollande, president of France, faces his own challenges a year ahead of an election. The leader has said Brexit would be "bad news'' for the U.K. and Europe.
European Commission president
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission and former prime minister of Luxembourg, has warned a "deserter would not be welcomed with open arms" should Brexit occur.