BRITAIN is this morning heading out of the European Union after a historic referendum vote for Out stunned the world, according to reports. At 6am Leave passed the threshold of 16.8million votes needed to trigger a Brexit – but the ultra-narrow margin of victory of 52% to 48% left the nation split down the middle.
A massive popular uprising against London elites was credited for the extraordinary result which defied almost every expert prediction.Huge swathes of northern England, the East coast, the Midlands and Wales, plus rural areas across the south, all backed Out.Only Scotland, Northern Ireland and inner city areas of London and Manchester voted by large majorities to Remain. The shock decision plunged the financial markets into unprecedented chaos. The pound plummeted by almost 10% across the night – a 31 year low – and the London stock exchange was expected to see a major crash today.
The pro-EU Prime Minister’s future was also plunged into major doubt, with Labour and some Lib Dems already calling for him to resign. The White House say President Obama has been briefed on the outcome of the referendum, and will speak with David Cameron,
But jubilant UKIP boss Nigel Farage claimed victory, just as dawn was breaking just after 4am. The anti-EU party chief declared: “Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.” EU bosses called an emergency meeting in Brussels today, as the shell-shocked PM prepared to address the nation.
ITV was the first broadcaster to call the result for Leave at 4.34am, followed a few minutes later by the BBC and Sky News. More than 30 million Brits voted yesterday in a massive turnout of 72% after the EU debate set the nation alight. It was the highest turnout in a nationwide vote in 24 years since the 1992 general election.
Desolate Remain campaign boss Will Straw dubbed the astonishing result “a wake up call for the political and economic elites”. Eurosceptic Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said a fresh general election may now be needed.
As Leave’s victory looked ever more sure, Tony Blair’s former communications director Alistair Campbell predicted a fresh Scottish independence referendum is now “very likely”. Mr Campbell added: “And I think the nationalists will win it”.
Pro-EU energy Amber Rudd said the rain had blighted the turnout in London and the South East, claiming: “the weather I’m afraid has not helped”. John Mann told BBC News: “Labour voters have decisively voted to leave the EU.
“Labour has gone wrong by not being in touch with their voters. I have been saying this for the last ten years in term of immigration… “It’s a small number of people who have been saying this at the national level.
“What this country is offering is agency work, insecurity…people are sick to death of it and that’s why people in huge numbers are voting to leave the EU.” Earlier in the night Tory MP Neil Carmichael said he believed the Remain campaign has sneaked it.
And speaking to The Sun he endorsed the PM’s leadership saying: “David Cameron was bold enough to promise a referendum, he delivered a referendum, and by all accounts he has probably won that referendum and I think that is an endorsement of his leadership and it’s a great thing we’re in this position.”
Two final pre-voting polls also revealed an eleventh hour shift back to the status quo and a Remain vote by thousands of nervous voters. A survey by Populus yesterday morning gave staying in a 10 point lead, by 55% to 45%.
And an Ipsos-Mori poll for the Evening Standard put Remain narrowly ahead by 52% versus 48%. Flooding and storms blitzed much of the south, the Midlands and the east – especially at peak voting times going and coming back from work.
A few polling stations were flooded and had to be closed for hours. But plucky Brits still queued often in heavy rain to ensure their voices were heard.A record 46.5 million registered to vote in the landmark In/Out poll after the heated debate over Britain’s EU membership gripped the nation, and split the country down the middle.
Turnout was widely expected to be bigger even than last year’s general election figure of 66.4%. Scotland’s chief returning officer Mary Pitkeithley even suggested it could be as high as 80% in some areas. And in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, three times the amount had voted by 10am than had at the same point during the general election.
Frantic efforts were made by both camps across the day to persuade voters leaning their way to get to the polling stations. The In campaign boasted a much larger ground operation to get out their vote, door knocking and manning phone banks through yesterday.
Remain had the advantage of the official Labour, Lib Dem and SNP party machines as well as the big unions’ manpower on their side. During the afternoon, Vote Leave’s Chief Executive Matthew Elliott sent a mass email out to supporters to warn the Remain strongholds of London and Scotland were voting “in big numbers”.
The round robin urged Leave backers to “call, text and email your friends and family” to persuade them to get to polling stations to vote Leave. Mr Elliott even included in it a photo of a long queue outside a polling station in “a leafy London suburb”.
Less than two hours before polls closed, Labour urged their supporters to make their vote count. In a campaign email, the party said: “It looks like their could be a record number of people at the polls today, showed just how historic an event and how important this decision is to all of us. If you haven’t voted yet – don’t miss out being a part of it.”
Leave bosses were boosted by reports of hundreds of voters turning up in stronghold areas such as Lincolnshire saying they had never voted before. They also claimed they had a significant lead in postal votes by a ratio of 70-30 in some areas, as they are largely used more by older people who tend to favour Brexit.
With just a few hours of voting to go, Leave boss Boris Johnson said: “I think the polls have been very close. “From what I have heard and all the information is that turnout is good in areas where we need it to be.” One Brexit MP said ground campaigners were “confident” but that the key battleground would be the Midlands and Yorkshire.
He said: “I really do think there is a Shy Brexit vote. I think there are people out there who back a Brexit who just haven’t spoken about it. “But we’ll see.” But a Brexit-backing minister said the “biblical” rain appeared to have affected the turnout in key Vote Leave regions such as Essex and Kent.
The minister told The Sun: “Look at the chaos in London, people just can’t get home to vote. The weather has really hit us. “The rain just seems to have dampened the mood altogether.” As polls closed In campaigners gathered at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank to nervously watch the results.
The post-vote YouGov poll is a repeat of the one the firm ran on the day of the Scotland referendum when they called the final result of 55% to 45% spot on. The final result will be far closer than the last referendum on Europe 41 years ago in 1975, when In won by 67% to 33%.
Budget airline Ryanair called the referendum result for Remain as soon as polls closed. In a bid for publicity, the airline announced launched a seat sale “to celebrate the UK’s vote to Remain in Europe”.