David Cameron has bowed to a request by the Electoral Commission over the wording of the EU referendum question.
The original question that was challenged by the watchdog said: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union. That would have required a yes or no response.
Following an assessment, the commission said the question should be changed to: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union.
Therefore, unlike the Scottish Referendum, which was a yes and no campaign, there will be campaign either to remail in the Union or leave.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman said: “We will follow the recommendation of the Electoral Commission by tabling an amendment to the bill. The government’s approach has been to follow the Electoral Commission’s advice.”
Great to see
ElectoralCommUK</a> agrees with me (4.19) that <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EU?src=hash">#EU</a> Referendum question should be more balanced & changed - <a href="http://t.co/iWOTZx0ef0">http://t.co/iWOTZx0ef0</a></p>— Thom Brooks (thom_brooks) September 1, 2015
The commission said following its research over the original question it had some concerns.
It said: “The question currently in the bill was tested with members of the public and the commission also sought views from other individuals and groups to make sure the question was clear, unambiguous and to the point.
“The commission’s established referendum question assessment guidelines (used for previous referendum bills, most recently for the Scottish referendum on independence in 2014) state that the question should be neutral, which means it should not encourage voters to consider one response more favourably than another or mislead voters.
“There were two main reasons why consultation respondents and research participants viewed the question as biased – it only sets out the ‘remain’ option in the question, and the ‘yes’ response is for the status quo. Consequently, while the question is not significantly leading, we have concerns about the perception that this question will encourage voters to consider one response more favourably than another.
“These views raise concerns about the potential legitimacy, in the eyes of those campaigning to leave and some members of the public, of the referendum result – particularly if there was a vote to remain a member of the European Union. The views of campaigners in particular provided an extra dimension that had not been available in our previous assessment.”
Outrageous that Electoral Commission says Yes/No is biased on EU membership but wasn't on Scottish independence http://t.co/JOSQQD1Hnc— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) September 1, 2015