Key players in Britain's EU referendum

14th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Here are the key political leaders in Britain's EU membership referendum ahead of the vote on June 23:

'Remain' camp

- David Cameron

The prime minister promised a referendum in the Conservatives' successful 2015 general election campaign, partly to appease restive backbenchers and stave off the threat of Brexit cheerleaders UKIP (UK Independence Party) eating up votes on the right.

His future is hanging in the balance: if Britain votes to leave, he "wouldn't last 30 seconds" in Downing Street, according to Conservative former finance minister Ken Clarke.

Several pro-Brexit Conservative MPs are calling for him to step down after the referendum and say that his position is in jeopardy even in case of a narrow victory for "Remain".

- Jeremy Corbyn

The veteran socialist leader of the main opposition Labour Party, who voted against membership in the last referendum in 1975, has come out for the "Remain" camp, despite a backbench career of euroscepticism.

His enthusiasm for staying in the EU is lukewarm.

Corbyn's argument is that a Brexit with a Conservative government in power would be worse for Britain's workers.

- Sadiq Khan

The new mayor of London has tried to put the emphasis on the positive aspects of staying in rather than the risks of going out. The Labour man shared a platform with Cameron to make the case.

He says staying in will safeguard the City of London financial district.

- Nicola Sturgeon

Leader of the secessionist Scottish National Party, Scotland's first minister has threatened to call a second referendum on Scottish independence if the rest of Britain votes out but Scotland votes in.

A punchy debater, she expects an overwhelming "Remain" vote in Scotland and has said it could play a key role in keeping Britain in the EU.

'Leave' camp

- Boris Johnson

The former London mayor has emerged as the figurehead of the Vote Leave campaign, urging Britain to "take back control" from Brussels.

Johnson's charisma and unorthodox approach to politics has put him in the Brexit driving seat.

If Brexit happens, he is the bookmakers' favourite to replace Cameron and critics accuse him of having his eye on Downing Street more than getting Britain out of the EU.

- Nigel Farage

Leader of the anti-EU, anti-mass immigration UK Independence Party, the beer-swilling Farage is outside the Vote Leave official campaign.

The former commodities trader has been touring the country on a battle bus and has put EU immigration at the heart of UKIP's campaign.

His street-level approach has taken him outside of the main metropolitan centres and he has taken part in several showpiece television debates.

- Michael Gove

The justice minister and hitherto Cameron loyalist is the most high-profile Conservative cabinet minister to break ranks with the prime minister.

The Scot faced a grilling on Sky News television in which he said Cameron had laid out a "depressing" case for staying in and his attacks against the prime minister have become increasingly personal.

- Gisela Stuart

The chair of the official Vote Leave campaign is a German immigrant who moved to Britain to study in the 1970s and a rare Brexit-supporting Labour MP.

Her softly-spoken style provides a counterpoint to the rhetoric of Farage and Johnson.

© 2016 AFP

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