Britain is about to make a historic decision that could shape Europe's future -- here's what you need to know

U.K. voters go to the polls on Thursday to settle an issue that has become a political hot button for the last decade. They will decide if the country will stay in the European Union, a choice with political and economic consequences far outside of Britain’s borders.

Choosing to leave would mean rejecting four decades of British policy favouring an economic union with the rest of the continent — and reject the platform of both of the country’s major political parties.

The debate over what is best for the country has reached a fevered pitch. Those in favour of leaving are tapping into nationalist, and populist sentiment — warning of how Britain’s borders are out of control, and being labelled xenophobes in return.

The campaign to “remain” is no less alarmist, though. Voters have been told the British pound will collapse and the economy sink into a recession as uncertainty grips financial markets around the world.

Business Insider’s team of reporters in the U.K. will will be covering the vote tomorrow. For now, here’s a quick guide to the basics of the issue.

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