Britain has been a member of the EU since the 1970s but has always had an uneasy relationship with the bloc. It is one of a small number of countries with opt outs on things like membership of the single currency and abolition of national border patrols, but Brussels has always tried to remove these rights and fully integrate the country into a federal system.
Despite being allowed to maintain its border, Britain is still required to allow any EU citizen to move to the country. This is a total of half a billion people, and has led to net migration topping three hundred thousand this year.
In a desperate effort to quell the population boom the government has responded by putting heavy restrictions on non-EU migrants. The result has been that professionally qualified Americans are being denied visas to make way for unskilled Romanians. The rules also prevent the British from stopping convicted criminals entering the country, and Police cannot deport those who engage in crime after they emigrate to the UK.
The fortunes of the pro-Europeans has been on the slide ever since the Syrian refugee crisis began. Before then the 'in' camp enjoyed at a constant ten percent lead. In 2000, when Tony Blair led the most pro-European British government in history 62 percent wanted to stay in the EU with just 38 percent against.
At the last election David Cameron had offered a referendum on Britain’s membership “before the end of 2017”. He offered to lead the 'in' campaign if he extracted certain concessions from Brussels. These included the removal of the right of immigrants to claim welfare checks before ever getting a job.
The concessions have been derided as derisory by the right of the Conservative Party and at the last election the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) got over four million votes. Even the Labour Party may campaign on the 'no' side. The party looks likely to crown Jeremy Corbyn its new leader and he has said he will not back the Prime Minister unless EU reforms include hardline socialist policies.
In a further blow to the EU the House of Commons will vote today to ban European institutions from campaigning in the referendum. The Conservative backbencher Steve Baker, who is proposing the measure, claimed it was needed because the EU has used it's financial might before.
When Brussels was trying to push through a new constitution it forced the Irish to have a second referendum after the country voted against the proposal. Those campaigning against the constitution were then swamped by EU taxpayers money, leading to a convincing win for the pro-Europeans.
The poll also asked voters how they felt about the government's plan to allow Syrian refugees into the country. Nearly three in ten say the UK should accept no refugees at all, while nearly half think we should take 1,000 or fewer.