After four months of what has widely been regarded as one of the most divisive and alienating political debates in history, the EU referendum is here.
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06:04 - Many predicted a Brexit would spark the break-up of the European Union. And the anti-EU Dutch leader Geert Wilders has already called for a referendum on the Netherlands' membership of the Union.
06:01 - BREAKING: The UK HAS NOW OFFICIALLY VOTED TO LEAVE TO EU
There are still some results still to declare, but it is now mathematically impossible for Remain to win.
05:36 - It's not official yet, but how has the referendum result impacted on your confidence in the economy and your business? Take two minutes to have your say here: www.bit.ly/SmithWilliamsonQ22016
05:34 - Sterling has lost even more ground on the dollar, falling to $1.32.
05:25 - Ed Salt, managing director of Delamere Dairies, says:
“As a co-owner of a business who relies on international trade and the benefits the EU brings to both the British economy and our agricultural sector, I am hugely disappointed that the UK has voted to leave the EU. A stable economy is vital to the future growth of the country and I am fearfully of what the future might hold, not only for the British economy and our world standings but of course Delamere Dairy."
05:22 - We're starting to get reaction from the business community. Ian Cass, managing director of the Forum of Private Business, says:
“Politicians now no longer have the excuse of EU interference and need to act quickly and effectively to offset what as most economists believe will be a period of uncertainty. This means the UK’s 1.3 million employers will need support in managing this period of disruption if it is to continue to drive the British economy."
05:17 - Former Liberal Democrat leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown on Twitter:
God help our country.— Paddy Ashdown (@paddyashdown) June 24, 2016
05:16 - The Leave campaign has now extended its lead to more than one million votes as it edges closer to the finishing line.
05:05 - Nick Dearden the director of Global Justice Now says: "Britain’s decision to leave the European Union opens up a world of uncertainty in which we must now navigate in a positive direction. "It’s hardly surprising that people have voiced such distrust towards the EU when it negotiates exploitative trade deals like TTIP, visits economic destruction on its own member states, and treats refugees as if they were criminals. But the mainstream ‘Leave’ campaigns have done a great deal of damage by pandering to nationalism, building a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and fostering the spurious notion that outside the EU we can return to an age when Britain was the world’s foremost ‘great power’."
04:59 - Statement from Nicola Sturgeon makes clear that Scotland wants to remain part of the EU: "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. We await the final UK-wide result, but Scotland has spoken - and spoken decisively." Will Scotland now hold another independence referendum and seek to join the EU on its own?
04:58 - Presidents of the European Parliament party groups will hold an emergency meeting at 8am.
04:43 - THE BBC believes Leave will win with 52% of the vote
04:41 - BREAKING - BBC REPORTS THAT REMAIN NOW CANNOT WIN AND THE UK HAS VOTED TO LEAVE THE EUROPEAN UNION
04:33 - Chris Towner, chief economist at HiFX, says: "This is the lowest level of GBP/USD since 1985. Trading is frenetic and volumes are low with very nervous pricing as the results come in. "We still have a lot of votes to come in; However, the market cannot ignore the momentum and the reality of where the UK is heading." "Safe havens such as gold and the Japanese yen are surging in value. The Japanese are watching the moves in their currency closely. GBP/JPY has dropped from trading at a high of 160 only a few hours to 135. Huge swings in the FX markets and trading conditions in Sterling can only be compared to those last seen at the height of the financial crisis back in 2008. "The Euro has suffered too as the implications run beyond the UK borders into the heartland of Europe. Therefore GBP/EUR is a lot lower on the day, but the impact is less against the Euro than against the US dollar. This was always going to be a vote that impact the global economy and the Asian stock markets are already reflecting this, down more than 3%."
04:17 - Leave now has a lead of more than 600,000, with 51.4% of the vote. The average turnout so far is 72%. Remain needs to make some big ground very soon as Leave passes 11 million votes.
04:09 - Sterling is now at $1.35 against the US dollar - the lowest since 1985. The economic impact of a Brexit is already taking effect. And it's big.
04:04 - In an passionate speech to his camp, Nigel Farage says he now believes Leave will win this referendum. And says 23 June will be remembered as the UK's Independence Day.
04:00 - RESULT - Cardiff votes Remain Cardiff bucks the trend in Wales, voting Remain with 60%, but it's not enough to swing Wales to a Remain vote overall.
03:52 - RESULT - Manchester votes Remain The type of result Remain needs - 60% in Manchester vote in favour of the EU.
03:50 - Nigel Farage says he 'now dares to dream' that we may actually have an independent United Kingdom.
03:47 - Leave's lead is around 500,000. Remain needs big cities and big numbers soon. And as I say that, #Remain gets 78.% in Hackney and 69% in Kensington & Chelsea.
03:37 - We've had plenty more results in over the past 10 minutes or so. Both camps are above 7 million votes, but Leave has extended its lead to 52% for the first time in quite a while.
03:43 - The fall in the value of the sterling is getting really quite serious now. The fall in the past 12 hours is worse than on Black Wednesday in 1992, when sterling fell off the ERM.
03:29 - Remain is now passed 6 million votes. One side still needs another 10 million before we get a result.
03:22 - Leave is opening up bit of a lead - it's over 6 million votes, a 250,000 and 1.1% lead. But we're still waiting for some very big areas likely to overwhelmingly declare for Remain.
03:14 - Leave is continuing to make good ground in the West Midlands and Wales. Leave is leading by 191,000 votes at the moment. Both sides into five million votes each. It's 50.9% - 49.1%.
03:10 - Results are coming far to quickly to keep up with them all, so I'll focus on the main ones. But Michael Baxter has been back in touch. He says: " Scotland seems to be resoundingly Remain, increasing chances of calls for another referendum on Scotish independence if the overall vote is Leave." He also believes polarisation is playing a big part in the result of the referendum: "Areas which are pro remain, getting more remain votes than expected. Areas which are pro leave getting more Leave votes than expected. Psychologists may not find this surprising. Studies looking at crowd psychology show that groups do tend to polarise, and exaggerate, by reinforcing most popular view."
03:02 - RESULT - Richmond-upon-Thames votes Remain There have been more very good results for Leave, but there's another big win for Remain in London, securing 69% of the vote in Richmond.
02:59 - RESULTS - West Somerset, North Dorset, Havant, Cannock Chase, Castle Point, Richmondshire and Isle of Wight vote Leave Very strong results for the Leave camp, particularly in Castle Point where it won 73% of the vote.
02:52 - RESULTS - Ceredigion, Liverpool and Islington vote Remain Remain gets its first win in Wales, while Liverpool becomes the second big city to vote Remain on 58%. Islington adds to the strong London support with a 75% of the vote.
02:51 - A few more wins for Leave have pulled the overall scored tied at 50/50.
02:46 - RESULTS - Peterbrough, North East Lincolnshire, Corby and Nuneaton& Bedworth vote Leave Some more strong wins for Leave ranging from 60-69%. It's becoming increasingly obvious just important the big cities will be to the Remain camp.
02:43 - We told you sterling is suffering as with positive results for the Leave campaign. Jeremy Cook says it is "dying": “The usual caveats exist about liquidity but these moves are concerning and bring back pretty painful memories of 2008. GBPUSD didn’t have this bad a day in the Global Financial Crisis and the moves by the bookies to price Leave as the favourite is killing the pound. News from Wales is the most concerning at the moment alongside the London turnout dynamics.”
02:40 - RESULT - Hammersmith & Fulham votes Remain We said Remain's support is strong in London, particularly inner London. Hammersmith & Fulham has declared a 70% win to stay in the EU.
02:37 - Let's recap! YouGov polls said Remain would win with 52%, while Ipsos Mori said it would be 54%. At the moment, it's just 50.6% with 72/382 results counted. Leave is winning big in the North East, North West and in Wales. But Remain is strong in Scotland and London. The average turnout is 69% across the UK.
02:34 - RESULTS - Belfast North and Belfast South vote Remain Both Belfast North and Belfast South vote to Remain in the European Union, but only just. Remain won with just 50.4% of the vote in Belfast North.
02:32 - There's more bad news for the financial markets. The FTSE Futures is down 5% and sterling is down to $1.40 against the US dollar.
02:29 - RESULTS - Newport, Bracknell Forest, Burnley, Tamworth, Conwy, Caerphilly, Belfast East and Wrexham vote Leave, Wandsworth votes Remain A number of big wins for Leave, with four more Wales counting areas voting for Brexit. That means every Welsh area as voted to Leave so far. But, London's Remain vote is going strong - Wandsworth came in with 75%.
02:26 - RESULTS - Glasgow votes Remain The first big city comes in for Remain, with 67% of the votes in Glasgow. This recent flurry of result has pushed Remain back into the lead.
02:22 - RESULTS - Exeter, Lambeth, Oxford, South Ayrshire vote Leave A flurry for positive results for the Remain camp, including 70% and 79% wins in Oxford and Lambeth in London, respectively.
02:16 - RESULTS - Fareham and Isle of Anglsey vote Leave More support for Leave in Wales in Anglesey
02:12 - RESULT - Denbighshire votes Leave Leave's 54% win in Denbighshire makes it five from five in Wales for Brexit.
02:16 - RESULT - North Warwickshire votes Leave The first Birmingham area votes to Leave with a 67% win in North Warwickshire.
02:15 - RESULTS - Angus votes Remain, St Helens votes Leave
02:10 - RESULTS - East Renfrewshire and West Lothian vote Remain More strong support for the EU in Scotland, East Renfrewshire gives another very strong 74% vote.
02:08 - RESULTS - Harlow, Eden and Redcar & Cleveland vote leave Another wave of Leave wins.
02:05 - BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says a Labour MP has contacted her, saying they believe Leave will win.
02:05 - RESULTS - Belfast West and North Down vote Remain Belfast West gives Remain one of its biggest wins of the night on 74%, taking it over the 1 million mark. 02:03 - RESULT - Bury votes Leave
02:01 - RESULTS - Wellinborough and Swansea vote Leave That's four from four in Wales favouring Leave.
01:59 - RESULTS - Brentwood and Southend-on-Sea vote Leave These results take Leave over the million votes mark. It now leads Remain by more than 137,000 votes.
01:57 - RESULT - Flintshire votes Leave Three out of three Welsh counts have come in favour of Leave as 56% vote for Brexit in Flintshire.
01:56 - RESULT - Inverclyde and City of London vote Remain A flurry of Leave victories, but Remain is on the board in London... albeit a small number of votes.
01:54 - RESULTS - Rochford, Middlesbrough, Strangford, Weymouth & Portland, Blaenau Gwent vote Leave
01:53 - Results are coming thick and fast now!
01:49 - RESULTS - Midlothian and Renfrewshire vote Remain Scotland was yellow for the SNP in the general election last year. It's yellow again for Remain in the EU referendum - 62% and 65% wins for Remain in Midlothian and Renfrewshire.
01:47 - RESULTS - Stockton-on-Tees, Basildon and Merthyr Tydfil vote Leave More strong results for Leave, with 62%, 69% and 56% of the votes, respectively.
01:43 - RESULT - Hartlepool votes Leave A huge 70% win for Leave in Hartlepool. Following early positive signs for Remain with those polls, it's not looking good at the moment. But a long way to go!
01:38 - RESULT - East Ayrshire votes Remain Another win for Remain in Scotland.
01:33 - RESULT - West Tyrone and Eilean Siar vote Remain Two quick wins for Remain in Northern Ireland, with a 67% and 55% share, respectively.
01:32 - RESULT - North Antrim votes Leave More good news for the Leave campaign. Another win in Northern Ireland, with 62% of the vote.
01:30 - One side needs 16.4 million votes to win this referendum. Leave, which is currently ahead, has 453,743. There's still a long, long way to go!
01:28 - RESULT - Lagan Valley votes Leave The second Northern Irish count comes in with a 53% vote for Leave.
01:26 - RESULT - Dundee votes Remain Dundee City votes Remain with a 60% of the share. Another fairly low turnout in Scotland at 63%.
01:21 - Economics blogger Michael Baxter says distrust caused by the financial crisis in 2008 has helped the Leave vote. "The immigration issue is clearly the key argument, but the bad weather in London may have adversely effected Remain vote. "Also I think that the 2008 financial crisis created a distrust of authority, bankers, and other financiers. And this is being reflected in a Leave vote."
01:20 - RESULT - South Tyneside votes Leave Another 62% win in South Tyneside, this time for Leave.
01:18 - RESULT - West Dunbartonshire votes Remain A healthy 62% win for Remain in West Dunbartonshire.
01:16 - RESULT - Shetland Islands votes Remain It is another lower-than-expected win for Remain in Shetlands Islands on 57%.
01:13 - Professor John Curtice, polling expert sitting on the BBC's coverage tonight, says: "The 39% vote for Remain here is just a little below what we would expect if the country were heading for a 50-50 outcome. "We now have had a number of results which suggest that the outcome is likely to be relatively close and that the large swing to Leave in Newcastle and Sunderland may be atypical. Nevertheless at the moment at least the Leave side are favourites to win this referendum - but there is still a very long way to go."
01:06 - RESULT - Kettering votes Leave Kettering sees a 61% victory for Leave, roughly doubling its overall lead to around 18,700.
01:01 - Various reports suggesting turnout in London was lower than expected, which could be bad news for Remain.
00:58 - Nigel Farage is the most searched politician so far this evening. Interesting to see how low Jeremy Corbyn is, given criticism of his campaign to stay in the EU...
.@Nigel_Farage has been the top searched politician in the UK all day today #EUref https://t.co/aMkqjxG6aK pic.twitter.com/zFaRPRGBbq — GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) June 23, 2016
00:57 - RESULT - Broxbourne votes Leave Two thirds of the vote secures a Leave vote in Broxbourne. Leave is back in front overall with 266,721 votes to 259,790.
00:54 - RESULT - Swindon votes Leave Swindon votes to Leave with 55%, on a turnout of 76%. Most expected a reasonably strong win for Leave there.
00:51 - RESULT - Isles of Scilly votes Remain A small number of votes, but 56% of voters in the Isles of Scilly vote to Remain.
oo:46 - RESULT - Foyle (Northern Ireland) votes Remain These will be added to a single Northern Irish count, but Foyle votes 78% in favour of Remain. Leave back in front by nearly 20,000 votes.
00:44 - Reports that Lewisham in London could be as high as 83% for Remain.
00:38 - Jeremy Cook is back on email, reacting to that sharp fall in sterling: “We said it was early days and the early optimism of the Yougov poll at 10pm has evaporated almost instantaneously. Newcastle was a squeaky win for Remain but Sunderland was a huge kick in the ribs and the bottom has fallen out of the pound. These markets are thin, liquidity is poor and a recovery is obviously possible but those traders who were looking to book a quick profit before a restful night’s sleep have had their ideas shattered. "A leave vote is seen as negative for sterling and City and Canary Wharf traders will come out swinging in a bid to take the pound lower if the polls continue to show a strong Leave performance. Fears over the twin deficits – current account and budget – alongside concerns over a possible recession, interest rate cuts or increased quantitative easing from the Bank of England are all reasons why GBP will be very unloved.”
00:22 - The pound just dropped seven cents against the US dollar after the Sunderland and Newcastle results. A 6% drop is something we haven't seen since the financial crisis. If the UK votes to Leave, tomorrow could be an mightily worrying day for sterling and the FTSE.
00:16 - RESULT - Sunderland votes Leave Leave is on the board with 61% of the vote in Sunderland. It was a 65% turnout in Sunderland. That result also puts Leave in the lead overall by 3,207 votes.
00:14 - RESULT - Clackmannanshire votes Remain 58% of the vote for Remain this time in Clackmannanshire, with a 67% turnout. Again, not a massive turnout in Scotland.
00:11 - That Newcastle result has dampened Remains spirits somewhat. And even had an effect on the pound, as Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First, explains: "Pound is down in the past few minutes. Marginal win for Remain in Newcastle giving pound bulls the willies. Newcastle should be a solid Remain victory."
00:07 - There's a lot of talk about lower-than-expected turn out in Scotland, which would be bad news for the Remain camp.
00:03 - RESULT - Orkney Islands vote Remain Almost two thirds (63%) of voters favour Remain in the Orkney Islands.
00:00 - RESULT - Newcastle votes Remain Remain wins with 50.7% on a 68% turnout. The scale of the Remain win is much lower than expected.
22:38 - The first result is in! Gibraltar votes Remain Gibraltar votes Remain with 96%. 84% of eligible voters turned up and just 823 voted to leave. Not a surprise at all!
22:34 - Philip Rooke, CEO of Spreadshirt, says: "I think leaving the EU would be a disaster for ecommerce and internet brands who want to compete in a global market. Investment is key to growth, but investors don’t want business to be hard. They don’t want to wait years while the UK renegotiates trade deals, they want to do business now." He added: "I am already questioning whether London [could] maintain its place as a top internet city if the country votes to leave the EU. If it is outside of the local market, will language and finance be enough to maintain its position?"
23:24 - Mark Hooper, founder of Indycube, has been in touch to tell us why he voted to Remain in the EU. His reasons include: Brexit could lead to another 2008-style financial crisis, the EU gives protection to workers' rights, a lack of plan from the Leave campaign, a place at the table and the positive contribution of immigrants on the UK economy. Mark wrote this blog explaining some of his reasons as he pleaded with his parents to vote Remain.
23:08 - In a sign of things to come after the result, 84 MPs, many of whom are pro-Brexit, including Boris Johnson, have signed a letter calling for David Cameron to remain as Prime Minister regardless of the result.
23:03 - According to a commuter in London, Boris Johnson has conceded defeat.
Just been asked on tube by @BorisJohnson if I voted leave. I say no. He concedes He's lost anyway. Awkward #EUrefpic.twitter.com/sAGcNevw3l — Lewis Iwu (@lewisiwu) June 23, 2016
22:58 - Ipsos Mori polls give it to Remain with 54% of the vote.
22:55 - Nigel Farage has now reportedly taken back his comments about Remain likely 'just edging it'.
22:50 - Interesting piece of information from Google. Searches for "reasons to stay in the EU" spiked 600% today, "reasons to leave the EU" spiked 120%.
22:46 - Before the results start to come in, let's consider what a Brexit might look like. Our friends at Capital Law have tried to answer that question. "...there would be significant practical difficulties in disentangling the UK from the EU legally – but, under Article 50 provisions in the Treaty of Lisbon, the UK would be given a period of two years to negotiate its exact terms of departure. "Depending on the result of these negotiations, some, or all, of the legislation that arose out of EU directives could be reviewed or repealed – though this would depend on the nature of any future relationship between the EU and the UK." You can see the full article here.
22:39 - There may been a somewhat united front during the campaign, but Labour and the Conservatives are already at each other's throats. Labour's Joanna Ashworth says the referendum campaign has shown the Tories are "utterly preoccupied with leadership infighting than the future of the country".
22:31 - That Yougov poll mentioned by Jeremy Cook suggests Remain will win with 52% of the vote.
22:17 - The value of the pound has risen to its highest level against the US dollar so far in 2016 ($1.50) as investors turn confident of a Remain vote. “It’s early days and there will be twists and turns through the early hours of this morning but, for now, the markets have taken that Yougov poll as a strong indication that the Remain camp has won. At current rates – 1.4998 – GBP/USD is enjoying its 3rd best week since 1985. 1.48 was our initial expectation of where GBP/USD would likely trade on a Remain win and so any further Bremain Bounce is increasingly looking like a Bremain Blip – a short term pop. On the other hand, the collapse of a Leave win, something the market has almost fully discounted, could be truly biblical.” - Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First.
22:11 - Potentially big news already this evening!! UKIP leader, Nigel Farage - the man who has campaigned to leave the EU for many, many years - has admitted Remain might 'just edge it'.
22:04 - You may not know that the counting works very differently to a general election. Rather than the several hundred parliamentary constituencies, votes are counted in 380 local government areas (and Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, which will fill into 11 regional votes and eventually a national result. Here's the info direct from the Electoral Commission:
The #EURef count process will now begin. Read our factsheet for more info: https://t.co/JGTIdiVoVs #EURefResults pic.twitter.com/UInQ1v8CJY — Electoral Commission (@ElectoralCommUK) June 23, 2016
22:01 - Gibraltar (which is an hour ahead)'s turnout a record 84%. It is thought a higher turnout is better news for the Remain camp.
22:00 - That's it. The polls are closed. (However, those already queuing at 10pm WILL be able to vote)
21:53 - There have been reports of Vote Leave campaigners spending the day waving boards and banners at cars, often on very busy and very fast roads. This is something I witnessed myself in South Wales. Vote Leave has been contacted about this, but we have not yet received a reply.
21:43 - Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! I've got my supplies to keep my going through the night. There is just over 15 minutes until the polls close. Don't forget, you can get in touch on Twitter, or you can email me email@example.com