Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Brexit Briefing

The domestic stakes of the UK referendum

City closed Friday in case of Brexit, Cameron gone by Christmas if result close, UKIP surge after defeat: what could happen after the EU referendum.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

Opinion

A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive

It's a year since the Western military presence in Afghanistan ended. A year since panic-stricken people flocked to Kabul airport, trying to flee the country, and girls and women waited fearfully for the disintegration of their hard-won rights.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us