Thursday

18th Jul 2019

UK votes to leave EU, causes shockwaves

  • Britons have voted to leave the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent (Photo: Reuters)

The news became clear just after 4.30AM Brussels time, but it had been shaping up that way for hours: British voters have chosen to leave the EU.

The results of Thursday's (23 June) EU referendum show that the Leave side has won by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent.

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17,410,742 voters chose Leave, 16,141,241 voted Remain.

A high turnout - 72.2 percent - was also part of the result, which sent shockwaves around the world and through different parts of the UK.

As the morning after began, the British pound fell to its lowest levels since 1985 on financial markets and shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost seven percent of their value.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, and a long-time opponent of the UK's EU membership was the first to react to what he hailed as Britain's "independence day".

He said this was "a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people".

"I hope this victory brings down this failed project and brings us to a Europe of sovereign nation states trading together," he said.

The map of the referendum outcome showed the Leave win was driven by England and Wales.

In England, London was among the few regions that voted for Remain, by 59.9 percent. The Leave vote won in most other areas, sometimes by a wide margin. In the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, between 58 and 60 percent voted to leave the EU.

In Wales, Leave won by 52.5 percent. The leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew R. T. Davies said it was a "historic moment for Wales", while Simon Thomas, a member of the Welsh assembly for the nationalist Plaid Cymru party, said the country was entering "disturbing territory".



Scotland, as expected, voted to Remain, by 62 percent. The result will raise again the question of Scotland's independence in order to stay in the EU.

"Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status," Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

She added that the vote "makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union."

In Northern Ireland, Remain won by 55.78 percent, and the result could also trigger tensions.

The republican Sinn Fein party, which is the second largest force in the region's coalition government, reacted by saying that "the British government has forfeited any mandate to represent [the] economic or political interests of people in Northern Ireland."

Prime minister David Cameron was expected to react once final results were known. His political future looks uncertain.



In a letter published on Thursday night, 84 eurosceptic Tory MPs urged him to stay in office even in case of Leave vote. But some political leaders, like Farage or former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, have called for his resignation.

Brexiters also vote in EU-friendly Scotland

All Scottish parties and two thirds of the population back EU membership. But voters met by EUobserver show that the Leave campaign was not completely ignored.

Column / Brexit Briefing

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Brexit vs Grexit: The six stages of losing to the EU

Theresa May's venture seems very similar to the attempt by Alexis Tsipras in 2015 to persuade Brussels to accept his terms for the bail out - a huge negotiation failure, presented to the public as the best possible deal.

Opinion

How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament

British plans to - maybe - take part in EU elections risk legal chaos in the next European Parliament, which could be resolved only by treaty change - an unlikely prospect.

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