Topical Guides

Topical Guides are provided by the AP Stylebook editors for timely events. Here is the most recent topical guide:

Brexit 2016

The Associated Press compiled a brief style guide of terms and definitions for coverage of the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Some terms are from the AP Stylebook: http://www.apstylebook.com/. Others are common usage in AP news stories.

Background: British Prime Minister David Cameron courted conservative and anti-EU voters during the last election by promising to hold a referendum on the U.K.’s membership of the 28-nation bloc by the end of 2017. Those campaigning to leave say the EU has evolved into an undemocratic and oppressive entity far removed from its original purpose as a trading bloc that Britain originally joined in 1973. They claim that only a British exit can restore sovereignty and effectively limit immigration. Those campaigning to remain argue that the EU ensures peace and prosperity for more than 500 million people from Portugal to Finland and the benefits far outweigh the costs.


Brexit Shorthand for "British exit" _ the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union after the June 23, 2016, referendum. No quotation marks. Use sparingly and explain what it means when you do use it.

remain The campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union. Use quotation marks around "remain" when referring to the campaign: the "remain" campaign, the "remain" side, "remain" supporters.

leave The campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. Use quotation marks around "leave" when referring to the campaign: the "leave" campaign, the "leave" side, "leave" supporters.

European Union The 28-nation European Union, based in Brussels, Belgium, was created by the Treaty on European Union, which was signed in February 1992 and took effect Nov. 1, 1993. Its executive body is the 28-member European Commission, which runs the EU's day-to-day affairs, drafts European laws and, after their adoption by governments, ensures their enforcement across the bloc. It also represents the EU in international trade negotiations and conducts antitrust investigations. The EU is an outgrowth of the 1958 European Economic Community, which itself was formed out of the 1952 European Coal and Steel Community. The six founding members are: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Other members are: Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. EU (no periods) is acceptable on second reference.

eurozone Also known as the euro area, the territory of the 19 European Union countries that use the euro currency. Britain uses the British pound.

Schengen Area The territory of 26 European countries, including 22 EU nations and four others, that have agreed to abolish passport and custom controls among one another. Great Britain and Ireland are not part of the Schengen Zone.

euroskeptic One who is critical of or opposes the European Union.

United Kingdom It consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain (or Britain) consists of England, Scotland and Wales. Ireland is independent of the United Kingdom. The abbreviation U.K. is acceptable as a noun or adjective. Use UK (no periods) in headlines.

Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron's party. Also known as the Tories. Cameron wants to stay in the EU but former London Mayor Boris Johnson, another member, is leading the "leave" campaign.

Labour Party Most but not all Labour leaders are on the "remain" side.

UK Independence Party The right-wing, anti-EU party that helped pressure Cameron's government into calling the referendum. Leader Nigel Farage has blamed immigrants for straining services. Don't use Ukip.

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