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  1. ITV Report

EU referendum 100 days away

The European Parliament HQ building in Strasbourg Photo: Picture by: Wiktor Dabkowski / DPA/PA Images

By Daniel Hewitt, Political Correspondent

In 100 days time, the British people will get to vote on their membership of the European Union for the first time in 41 years.

Back then, in 1975, the EU wasn't even called the EU - instead the European Economic Community had just 9 members, the UK having joined two years previously in 1973.

Since that historic vote to remain in the EEC in '75, what became known as the European Union has grown and grown.

From Greece, Spain and Portugal's accession in the 1980's, Sweden, Austria and Finland in the 1990's and the welcoming of 12 new countries in the last 12 years, the EU now boasts 28 members states.

Today the EU has its own currency, its own bank, a European Parliament of more than 700 politicians, its own court and judges, a European Commission, the free movement of people, and there is even talk of a European Army.

In the 1940's, when Winston Churchill called for "a kind of United States of Europe", did he foresee what was to follow? Would he approve? He talked of the European "family" and called for the creation of the Council of Europe (which still exists today), but he also said "we are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not comprised."

More importantly perhaps, when the British people last had its say on Europe in 1975, were they voting for the ever-closer political, as well as economic, union that has followed?

Those that argue they were not, say that is precisely why a referendum is needed - to give the British people the opportunity to get out of a club they never chose to join.

Those that say Britain should stay in that club say the EU has delivered peace, prosperity and stability not seen before in the history of Europe.

Most opinion polls, for what they're worth these days, have 'Remain' slightly ahead of 'Leave'.

Don't worry, if you're undecided, you have 100 days to make up your mind. But be wary of letting the opportunity pass - it may be 41 years before you get another chance.