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Five things about 'Brexit'

Citizens of the United Kingdom will go to the polls today to decide whether or not the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) will remain in the European Union.

The decision is expected to have long-term economic and political implications for the UK. While Americans sometimes find British politics more complicated than cricket, this issue is fairly straightforward. Here are five things to know about the EU Referendum otherwise known as "Brexit."

The case for leave: Those who favor leaving the UK do so because they believe the country will have a better chance of economic success away from the European Union which has been criticized for its massive bureaucracy.

Leave backers believe the UK will be able to negotiate better trade deals on its own and better protect its resources. For example, the UK's commercial fishermen believe other EU countries have too much access to UK fisheries.

Those backing Leave also generally favor tougher controls on immigration.

The case for stay: Those favoring staying point to the uncertainty for Britain's economy should it decide to leave the EU. It could take up to two years to negotiate an exit from the EU and during that time the UK would face unnecessary economic uncertainty that could impact citizens adversely. Prime Minister David Cameron has said it could take up to nine years to normalize Britain's economy should it leave the EU.

The Remain backers also believe the EU has been good for Britain's economy on the whole, pointing to London's rise as a world financial center over the last 30 years as proof the EU works for Britain.

Those favoring the UK staying also tend to be younger and are less nationalistic in their views. That's one reason why there was a failed attempt to lower the voting age to 16 for the referendum.

The Stay players

"Brexit" has provided a rare moment of agreement for Conservative Party Prime Minsister David Cameron and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.  The election could have huge implications for Cameron. There are some that believe if the Leave campaign is successful he will be replaced at No. 10.

The Leave players

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has long been a critic of the EU and has been a major player for Leave. But no British politician stands to gain more from UK's departure than political heavyweight Boris Johnson who is now a Conservative Party MP.

The  popular former London mayor has been aggressive in campaigning for the UK to leave the EU. And there are some theories that if the Conservative Party dumps Cameron in the wake of a "Brexit" defeat, Johnson could replace him.

The Jo Cox factor

Cox was murdered by one of her constituents on June 16. The Labour Party MP had been an outspoken proponent of the UK remaining in the European Union. The man who is accused of killing her is believed to have some connections to several nationalist organizations and responded with "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain" when asked his name in his first court appearance.

Her death knocked the campaign out for several days and could impact how some view the debate over "Brexit." Prior to her death, the Leave campaign had been gaining momentum, but even Farage concedes her death has blunted it.

Which side will win?

Polls are have been all over the place, but in recent weeks the Leave campaign has pulled ahead in polling. The most recent aggregate of polls show the Stay campaign with a narrow 1 point lead heading into Wednesday. 

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›