The issue: Next Thursday, 23rd June, UK citizens will be voting in a referendum on whether or not the United Kingdom will stay in the European Union. The last referendum of this type was held in 1975, when citizens voted to remain in the EU. However, many European and British politics have changed in the last 40 years. The UK is currently one of 10 EU member countries who pay more into the EU budget than they get out, with only France and Germany contributing more.
The benefits of the UK staying: Many argue that the UK is stronger business-wise as part of the EU than on their own due to the EU policies that keep prices down and help British businesses sell their products. Many big businesses are in favor of staying because being part of the EU makes it easier for them to move money around the world. In addition, the influx of immigrants from other EU countries who come to work in the UK fuels economic growth and helps pay for public services. British rights, also, such as paid leave, equal pay, maternity and paternity leave, and protection for agency workers are guaranteed by the EU. And, should British citizens decide to travel, they receive transferrable health care in other EU countries.
The benefits of the UK leaving: There are profits for the UK leaving the EU as well. Many argue that the EU imposes too many rules that override UK law, as well as charging billions of pounds for membership fees that offer little in return. Some argue that the free movement policy of the EU is allowing too many immigrants into the UK. (However, leaving the EU would also mean that British citizens would need visas more regularly to travel.) As for trade, many argue that the UK does not need to be a member of the EU to trade with it, and that the EU prevents them from negotiating their own trade deals with key allies such as Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.
So which side will win? Right now, opinion polls show the two sides being relatively even, with a large percentage also undecided. Come Thursday, the UK will have their answer.