Brexit: UK votes to leave the EU
Final results show 51.9% vote to leave; 48.1% vote to remain; 72.2 % turnout
David Cameron has resigned as British prime minister following the failure of his Remain side to win the referendum on staying in the EU.
“I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” he said.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, he said the British people had made a choice “that needs to be respected” and that all sides, both Remain and Leave have a duty to make the new situation work.
“Now that the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way,” he said.
Mr Cameron said it was not a decision he took lightly, and that he expected a new prime minister to be in place before the Conservative Party conference in October.
During his resignation speech, he moved to reassure both UK citizens living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK that there would be “no immediate change in circumstances”.
Victory for Leave side
With a turnout of 72.2 per cent, 51.9 per cent voted to leave; 48.1 per cent voted to remain.
Over 17 million people voted to leave (17,410,742), while just over 16 million (16,141,241) voted to leave.
The result surprised Leave campaigners as well as most pollsters and political analysts.
London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly to remain in the EU.
But there were big majorities for Leave in other parts of the country, particularly in the north of England, and Wales and the English shires also backed Brexit.
More than 30 million people voted in the referendum and the turnout of 72.2 per cent was the highest for any UK-wide vote since 1992.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage told supporters that July 23rd would go down in history as Britain’s Independence Day.
“Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” he said.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has long said that a vote for Brexit against Scotland’s wishes could trigger a second independence referendum, said the result made clear what Scotland wanted.
“Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status. And while the overall result remains to be declared, the vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union,” she said.
When polls closed at 10pm last night, with polls pointing to a clear Remain victory, Mr Farage came close to conceding defeat. But when Newcastle backed Remain with a smaller than expected margin and Sunderland backed Brexit with a thumping majority, it became clear that Leave was in for a good night.
The result was unusually polarised, with parts of London voting by margins of three to one in favour of remaining in the EU, while other parts of England voted heavily for Brexit.
Irish government reaction
The British decision to leave the European Union “ clearly has very significant implications for Ireland”, the Government has said in a statement as the Cabinet prepares for an emergency meeting.
In what is effectively a holding statement, the Government said it “notes the outcome of the UK-EU referendum this morning”.
“This result clearly has very significant implications for Ireland, as well as for Britain and for the European Union.”
The Cabinet will hold an emergency meeting this morning to “reflect on” the fallout of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
The Government will also begin to prepare for the impact of Brexit on Ireland, the prospect of which was repeatedly described as an almost nightmare scenario by Ministers and officials in Dublin.
Irish business groups disappointed
The Irish business community has reacted with disappointment to the news that the UK has voted to leave the European Union.
Lobby group Ibec said the UK vote is a “very significant blow the EU, which will lead to a potentially protracted and unwelcome period of uncertainty and instability in Europe.”
Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy said the Irish Government, EU institutions and central banks must do all within their power to minimise instability. He called for Ireland to be involved in any negotiations regarding Britain’s exit .
Irish and other European shares are set to plunge on Friday morning as investors digest Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
The pound fell more than 10 per cent against the dollar to levels last seen in 1985, its biggest one-day fall in history, and European shares plummeted more than 8 per cent, headed for their biggest ever one-day fall.
Billions of dollars were wiped off European banks’ market value, with Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group the biggest fallers.
Oil prices slumped by more than 6 per cent following the result.
Sunderland became the first area to vote to leave the EU in the UK referendum, with 82,394 voting to leave and 51,930 voting to remain.
The City of London voted for Remain, by 3,312 to 1,087for Leave, while Lambeth in London also polled 79 per cent in favour of Remain.
Liverpool voted less strongly than expected to remain in the EU, with 58 per cent of voters choosing to remain.
Sheffield unexpectedly voted narrowly in favour of Leave while Manchester voted less strongly than expected and voted Remain.
As Britain voted to leave, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the European Union. All 32 of Scotland’s local authorities voted to stay.
Almost three-quarters of voters in the capital, Edinburgh, voted to stay in the EU. Glasgow voted by 168,335 (67 per cent) to 84,474 (33 per cent) in favour of remain.
Overall, Remain won more than 60 per cent of the votes in Scotland.
Turnout at 67.2 per cent, was slightly lower than the rest of the UK but higher than last month’s Scottish parliament election.
Former First Minister Alex Salmond warned the Scottish National Party was likely to push for another Scottish independence referendum on the back of the leave vote.
Wales voted to leave the EU.
The BBC report that 52.5 per cent of voters in Wales backed Leave, compared with 47.5 per cent supporting Remain.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has said his urgent priority is to “protect the interests of Wales” and that he was “deeply disappointed” by the result.
He pledged to do all he could to protect jobs and keep Wales’ access to the European single market.
The referendum marked the second time Welsh people were at the ballot box in little over a month after casting their votes for the Welsh Assembly elections in May, which some on the Remain say made their campaign less effective.
Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, with 55.77 per cent of voters electing to remain in the EU.
Of the 18 constituencies, 11 voted Remain and seven voted Leave.
Foyle was the first constituency to declare in the count towards the overall result in Northern Ireland, with a strong majority for Remain.
A total of 32,064 voted for the UK to stay in the EU, with 8,905 backing Brexit.
Belfast East voted to leave, with 20,728 vote for remain and 21,918 for leave.
However, Belfast South and Belfast North both voted to remain.
In Lagan Valley, the vote was for Brexit. A total of 22,710 voted for Remain and 25,704 voted for Leave.
North Antrim, Strangford and Upper Bann voted to leave.
West Tyrone, East Derry, South Down, Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone voted to remain.
British overseas territory Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, with 19,322 voting to remain and 823 voting to leave.
Additional reporting Reuters