1975 Referendum on the United Kingdom's continued membership of the Common Market

It is nearly 25 years since the U.K. electorate was last consulted on the U.K.'s relationship with the European Union (as it is now). At last we now stand to be consulted again: on membership of the EU's Economic and Monetary Union, if and when the Government recommends joining.


In 1975 a referendum was held in the United Kingdom, asking whether the electorate wished to remain part of what was then the Common Market. It is a common misconception that this referendum was on whether Britain should join - this is not the case, as Britain was already a member.

The referendum was a manifesto commitment of the Labour party under the leadership of Harold Wilson. The Labour party was elected to form Her Majesty's Government and duly held the referendum.

The main purpose of this site is to host an online version of the pamphlet distributed to every household by the Government in support of the Government's recommendation that people should vote in favour of staying in. The aim is to provide proof of what the British people were told about membership of the Common Market on the occasion they were last consulted. It demonstrates just how far the European Union has 'progressed' as a political project since then.

Please use this link to see the pamphlet text. Scans of the original document should be available soon.


The question that was actually asked was:
DO YOU THINK THE UNITED KINGDOM SHOULD STAY IN THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (THE COMMON MARKET)?

The result was that 67.5 % of votes were in favour of staying in.

The House of Commons had voted (9 April 1975) on staying in on the new terms:
396 in favour (70.0%), 170 against (30.0%).

Earlier polls had asked:
"If you could vote tomorrow on whether we should stay in the Common Market or leave it, how would you vote?"
Average results: 33% stay, 41% leave, 26% don't know.

In Feb 1975 the question was altered to:
"If the Government negotiated new terms for Britain's membership of the Common Market and thought it was in Britain's interest to remain, how would you vote - to stay or to leave?"
Results: 53% to stay, 22% to leave, 25% don't know.

The above information is apparently available in:
"The 1975 Referendum" by David Butler and Uwe Kitzinger. ISBN 0-333 662990-3

See my transcript of the the pamphlet HERE