BGIPU sponsors EU Referendum Observation Mission
With the support of the Executive Committee of the BGIPU, comprising members on all sides of the EU referendum debate on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union, BGIPU hosted a EU referendum observation mission from 22-24 June 2016.
With outstanding assistance from staff the the Electoral Commission and borough polling officials, BGIPU was able to sponsor the mission which included parliamentarians and officials from IPU member parliaments in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and BGIPU Secretariat staff. This initiative responded to the strong interest of parliamentary colleagues in Europe to gain insights into the UK’s historic EU referendum on 23 June 2016.
The programme commenced with discussion on observation methods, the UK voting system and a history of UK referenda and programme discussions. This was followed by detailed campaign briefings by representatives of both official campaign groups, Britain Stronger in Europe and Vote Leave, additional background from the Parliament and Constitution Centre of the House of Commons Library and a working lunch with the Earl of Sandwich on behalf of the BGIPU Executive Committee.
Following meetings with elections officials in key London boroughs and an explanation of the UK’s postal voting system on 22 June, observers spent the whole polling day of 23 June in the field visiting more than a dozen polling stations each in three key London boroughs of Ealing, Fulham and Lambeth to carry out observation activities from poll opening to poll closing. This was followed by viewing the start of the Lambeth borough count in Brixton before visiting the London Regional Counting Center in Guild Hall.
There was also a debriefing meeting on 24 June to discuss key election observation findings and the broader implications of the final outcome for the UK, other European countries and the European Union. Key observations will be passed in due course to the Electoral Commission but, in particular, the delegation were hugely impressed by the dedication, professionalism, hard work and good humour of all polling officials involved in the voting and final count and the overall effectiveness of UK electoral procedures.