The United Kingdom Electoral Commission on Friday morning confirmed that Britain has voted to leave the European Union. After Britain voted on Thursday to decide whether it would stay with or leave the European Union, initial trends showed a slight advantage for the 'Remain' camp, however, pollsters quickly did a volte face. The divisive ballot on the United Kingdom’s staying with or leaving the European Union was won by the ‘Leave’ camp, with 51.9% votes. The voter turnout for the election was higher than expected. Around 72% of voters turned up at the polls on Thursday.
The pound sterling on Thursday had climbed to a 2016 high as markets closed, and stocks rallied because investors bet that the United Kingdom will remain with the EU, Reuters reported. On Friday morning, Britain's currency dropped to its lowest since 1985. With markets placed the odds of Brexit happening as high as 74%, global markets took a beating on Friday morning, including in India.
Counting began on Thursday at 382 local counting areas that represent all 380 local government areas in England, Scotland and Wales, including one each for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to have opted to remain with the EU.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage called June 23 UK's "Independence day" and demanded Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation. Cameron announced his resignation shortly after the the results were declared.
The vote, which was to determine whether the UK remained a part of the EU or not, has been a polarising affair with early predictions showing that the ‘Remain’ camp was only just slightly ahead of the ‘Leave’ supporters. The EU is a strategic economic and political coalition that brings together 28 countries, allowing them to trade on common terms, and make some key political decisions collectively. The UK has always maintained a unique position in the EU, refusing to participate in some of the collective moves, such as using the Euro currency.
British Prime Minister David Cameron campaigned loudly in support of Britain remaining with the EU, and tried to create a new deal with the Union on special terms for the country to remain. Among them are provisions that involve Britain not having to participate in future EU bailouts, and continuing to use its Pound as currency. While the EU on the whole earlier wanted Britain to stay, such moves could set a dangerous precedent as other countries could make similar demands in the future.
On the other hand, supporters of the 'Leave' proposition argued that it would be an economically fruitful move as the country would not be forced to contribute to the EU’s schemes, though not everyone agreed that the facts aligned on this.