Key dates in Britain`s EU referendum

Wednesday is the last day of campaigning for Britain`s referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU, a momentous decision with far-reaching implications for Britain and Europe.

Key dates in Britain`s EU referendum

London: Wednesday is the last day of campaigning for Britain`s referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU, a momentous decision with far-reaching implications for Britain and Europe.

The campaign has divided the country and been ferocious in tone. The Daily Mirror newspaper called it the "most divisive, vile and unpleasant political campaign in living memory".

Here are some of the key dates in the run-up to Thursday`s historic vote. After marathon talks in Brussels, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron emerges late on February 19 with what he describes as key reforms to the European Union that allow him to recommend Britain staying in.

Back in London the following day, he sets the referendum date for June 23, firing the starting gun for campaigning which begins almost immediately.

The day after that, February 21, London`s then mayor Boris Johnson, who many tip as a possible successor to Cameron, reveals his hand and says he will support the "Leave" camp, in a major blow to the prime minister.The leader of the main opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn makes his first major intervention on April 14, urging Britons to vote in favour of staying in the EU, a day before the start of official campaigning.

US President Barack Obama delivers a major boost to the "Remain" camp when he says on a visit to London on April 22 that Britain would be "at the back of the queue" for a trade deal with Washington if it left the EU.The "Remain" camp wins a boost from international organisations which back its line that leaving the bloc would be catastrophic for the economy.

The G7 group of top economies says on May 27 that a Brexit would pose a "serious risk to growth".

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde warns on May 13 that quitting the EU would be "pretty bad to very, very bad" for the British economy.

Others backing the "Remain" camp include EU politicians, former NATO leaders and the US defence, foreign and treasury secretaries.Early June sees a shift in mood, as the "Leave" camp takes the lead in opinion polls on the back of increasing fears over immigration, proposing an Australia-style points-based system.

Lending weight to the "Leave" campaign is the backing of the country`s most-read newspaper, the Sun, which urges readers to "BeLEAVE" in Britain.

Meanwhile, the rival campaigns seek to outdo each other with stunts to drum up support.

On June 15, a Brexit fishing flotilla sails up the River Thames sounding foghorns and displaying anti-EU signs, led by UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage in a protest against EU fishing policies.

Pro-EU rocker Bob Geldof pulls alongside in another boat, flicking a V-sign and shouting "Nigel you`re a fraud" through a loudspeaker. He is doused with water from a "Leave" boat.Pro-"Remain" lawmaker Jo Cox of Labour is shot and stabbed to death in her constituency in Birstall in northern England.

The murder in broad daylight plunges the country into mourning and both sides suspend campaigning.

In his first court appearance, her alleged attacker Thomas Mair gives his name as: "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain."

Husband Brendan later told the BBC she had been "worried" about the tone of the EU debate and that he believed she had been killed for her political views.In the final days of the campaign, polling swings back towards the "Remain" campaign, with most surveys now giving it a narrow lead.

Political, economic, cultural and sports figures, along with newspapers on both sides of the debate, issue last-ditch pleas for votes.

Cameron makes a clear appeal to older voters -- seen as more likely to vote for a Brexit -- urging them to think of the "hopes and dreams of your children and your grandchildren".

Global stocks and sterling rise again on the belief Britain will choose to stay.

The biggest debate of the campaign takes place on June 21 as Johnson goes head-to-head with his successor as London mayor Sadiq Khan, a "Remain" supporter, at London`s Wembley Arena.

Both sides accuse each other of scaremongering.

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