Britain, the EU’s third-biggest economy, first applied to join the then European Economic Community in 1960. That step was vetoed by French President Charles De Gaulle. Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath restarted negotiations, and Britain joined in 1973. His successor, Labour’s Harold Wilson, staged and won a referendum in 1975 on staying in, with his Cabinet split.
Thatcher won an agreement in 1984 that the U.K. should get a rebate on its budget contributions that it still receives to compensate for its low level of farm subsidies. Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair’s plan to join the European single currency after 1997 was blocked by his finance minister, Gordon Brown.
A YouGov Plc poll for the latest Sunday Times newspaper found 40 percent of respondents saying they would vote to stay in the EU compared with 34 percent who say they would vote to leave. YouGov polled 1,912 adults on Jan. 17 and Jan. 18.