Midnight EST, Friday, June 24, 2016
It’s been an historic night, not just for the United Kingdom, but for the European Union and the world beyond. Britain has voted to LEAVE the EU.
Markets are already reacting, with the pound having dropped to the lowest level since 1985.
The American Interest website will have ongoing analysis and commentary on BREXIT. Please join me for the podcast on Tuesday.
In the meantime, goodnight and good luck!
*BBC NEWS CALLS THE REFERENDUM FOR LEAVE*
*ITV NEWS CALLS THE ELECTION FOR LEAVE*
Predicting 52-48% result
Professor Matthew Goodwin says that UKIP strategy of cultivating working class communities in traditional Labour areas has paid off tonight. High turnout among these voters set to be the defining factor in the referendum, more than counterbalancing the strong Remain vote in London.
Market watch: the pound has suffered the biggest drop in value since “Black Wednesday” in 1992.
Nigel Farage back at the Leave.EU campaign HQ. Six hours ago he was predicting defeat. Now he’s exultant, saying, “Dare to dream … Let June 23rd go down as our Independence Day.”
It’s 3:45 AM in the UK and there’s a definite lull in the count now, with most of the leading politicians clearly having left to take a nap before the result.
Here’s an update on where we are:
ITV News psephologists predicting an 80 per cent likelihood that Leave will win this referendum.
Prof. John Curtis, BBC psephologist, is more cautious; says Leave now the favorites to be ahead by the end of the night but still too early to call.
Liverpool votes Remain by 58%, which is less than anticipated. Direction of travel in this referendum is with Leave.
Vince Cable, former UK business minister, says the question now is whether Remain votes in “cosmopolitan” London and Scotland are enough to see off “everywhere else” in the country.
Robert Peston, ITN Political Editor: “It is inconceivable that David Cameron could stay on as PM if we vote Leave.”
Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times on the crucial calculation tonight. Will London turn out in sufficient numbers to turn the tide?
Vote Leave source: at current rate they're on course for 150,000 fewer votes in London than hoped. But will more than cover that elsewhere.
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) June 24, 2016
Big result in London, as Wandsworth backs Remain by 75 per cent with a high voter turn out.
Education minister Nicky Morgan: “It’s getting a bit frisky.”
Markets already getting jittery: price of gold up sharply, pound down sharply against the dollar, euro also down against the dollar, London stock exchange predicted to open 5 per cent down. Says one commentator, “It’s a flight to safety”; predicts pound could lose a fifth of its value on a Leave vote.
Bitter recriminations already breaking out in Labour party about poor showing for Remain in traditional Labour areas. Shadow cabinet member Chris Bryant, seeing Ed Miliband (the Labour leader who lost the 2015 election) on a big screen being interviewed, says, “I might go and punch him because he’s a t***** and he left the party in the state it’s in.”
Scotland turn out only 64 per cent. That’s pulling the Remain vote down. In contrast, in pro-Brexit areas such as Kettering, voter turn out is high at 78 per cent. With this referendum on a knife edge, voter commitment could be critical.
Basildon in Essex votes Leave by 68 per cent. Another result with a higher margin of victory for Leave than had been anticipated.
Remain is going to need a very strong showing in London tonight.
Here’s video of UKIP’s Nigel Farage saying that whatever happens tonight, “we are winning this war.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 23, 2016
Weird moment as Lord Ashdown, liberal grandee, asks female reporter, “Let me ask you a question. Have you brought your sleeping bag?” We think we know what he means: it’s going to be a long night.
Kettering in the English east midlands votes 61% for Leave. The results from Swindon and Kettering are both consistent with a nailbiting 50-50 final result.
Another important result: Swindon in southwest England votes to Leave by 55%. That’s much closer to predictions than the shock of Newcastle and Sunderland. So really, we still have no idea where this is heading.
Here’s the state of play after five results (out of 382):
Remain: 158,536 (49.5%)
Leave: 161,744 (50.5%)
Value of pound drops significantly (2-3 percentage points) against the dollar and the euro as markets react to strong Leave showing in Newcastle and Sunderland. City experts say there could be a staggering 40 point drop in the value of sterling as the night goes on if Leave moves ahead.
Another crucial result from the north-east of England. Sunderland votes overwhelmingly for Leave by 61.3%. Like Newcastle, that’s far higher than predictions and suggests that Leave is making deep inroads in working class areas in the north.
Robert Peston, ITN Political Editor: “This is a very big moment. It’s going to be a gripping night.”
Here’s the first big UK result:
Newcastle votes to Remain by 51%.
That’s a much smaller margin of victory than Remain would have expected.
Boris Johnson, the key figure in the Leave campaign, tweets his thanks to supporters.
The polls have now closed, democracy has been served + we await the verdict of the people. Thanks to everyone involved + everyone who voted
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 23, 2016
Ed Miliband, former leader of the Labour Party:
If Remain wins, it will be “a vote to stay in Europe but not a vote for the status quo. There is a lot of anger. … If anyone in the European or British Establishment thinks we can go back to business as usual, they’re wrong”
Nigel Farage now speaking to the media.
“The eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle and it will never be put back.”
Says “my sense” is that Remain has won, “but I hope I’m made a fool of.”
A very moving minute’s silence at the count in Kirklees in memory of the murdered Labour MP, Jo Cox.
Nigel Farage arriving at Leave.EU campaign HQ shortly. Advisers briefing that he’s pessimistic but not conceding. Remember though, no results have yet been declared.
A YouGov poll of 5,000 people taken today puts Remain on 52 per cent and Leave on 48 per cent.
Here’s Joe Twyman, YouGov’s Head of Political and Social Research: “Today YouGov conducted a survey, going back to the same people we spoke to yesterday to find out how they actually voted. The survey found a small move to Remain and based on these results we expect the United Kingdom to continue as a member of the European Union.
“Remain are on 52% with Leave on 48%.
“The results are close and it too early to call it definitively. But these results, along with the recent trends and historical precedent, suggest a Remain victory is the more likely outcome.”
Conservative MP Robert Syms has organized a letter signed by 84 mostly pro-Brexit MPs saying that David Cameron should stay on as prime minister whatever the result.
The letter was signed by 84 MPs, two-thirds of those who publicly supported the Vote Leave Campaign list attached pic.twitter.com/CvKYCWyZJz
— Robert Syms MP (@robertsymsmp) June 23, 2016
Bizarre rumors coming through that Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, is ready to concede that Leave has lost the referendum. Seems far too early to call, but part of a general feeling among commentators that the night could belong to Remain.
Turnout has been high, with predictions between 70 and 80 per cent.
“Should I stay or should I go?”
The polls have closed in the UK. The first results are expected in around two hours time. We should get the final result in the early hours of Friday morning. Opinion polls have said it’s too close to call, so hold on to your hats.
In the meantime, if you want a recap of what’s at stake, here are Richard Haass and John Fonte debating the issues in the pages of The American Interest.