General

Britain WILL leave the EU after referendum voters back Brexit

  • PM announces resignation after Leave secures dramatic victory by 52 per cent to 48 per cent
  • Says he cannot be the ‘captain’ who steers the UK to new future outside the Brussels club  
  • Brexit camp performed strongly in Wales and in England outside of London and the big cities
  • Vote in favour of EU membership was big in Scotland and big cities including London 
  • Bank of England governor has moved to reassure markets after Pound slumped to a 31-year low against US dollar
  • Standard & Poor’s has warned that the UK’s AAA credit rating now looks ‘untenable’   
  • David Cameron will give his response to the result within hours and could declare he will quit

By

James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline

and
Tim Sculthorpe, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline


Published:
15:59 EST, 23 June 2016

|
Updated:
03:29 EST, 24 June 2016

An emotional David Cameron has announced his resignation as Prime Minister after the historic EU referendum delivered clear backing for Brexit.

The Prime Minister said he accepted the verdict of the ‘great democratic exercise’ which saw the Leave campaign triumph after stacking up 52 per cent of the votes – despite massive support for Remain in Scotland and major cities including London.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney moved to reassure panicking markets this morning after the Pound nose-dived to its lowest level against the US dollar for 31 years, and the FTSE slumped by 8 per cent. 

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has already raised the prospect of a second independence referendum in Scotland within two years, potentially heralding the break-up of the UK. 

Flanked by wife Samantha in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said he had been ‘proud’ to serve as PM for the past six years.

But he said it would not be right for him to be the ‘captain of the ship’ while the UK negotiated its exit from the EU.

David Cameron said he could not be the ‘captain of the ship’ while the UK negotiated its exit from the EU

David and Samantha Cameron comforted each other after he made his emotional statement outside the famous door of 10 Downing Street
The couple walked into Downing Street together as he contemplated the end of his premiership

David and Samantha Cameron comforted each other after he made his emotional statement outside the famous door of 10 Downing Street

In a moving speech, Mr Cameron (left) said he accepted the verdict of the 'great democratic exercise' which saw the Leave campaign triumph
His wife Samantha appeared to be getting emotional as her husband announced that he would stand down in October

Mr Cameron (left) said he accepted the verdict of the ‘great democratic exercise’ which saw the Leave campaign triumph. His wife Samantha appeared to be getting emotional as her husband announced that he would stand down in October

 ‘I held nothing back. I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU,’ he said.

‘And I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician including myself.

‘But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.’ 

Choking back tears, Mr Cameron – who led the Tories to a shock majority in the general election barely a year ago – said he would not depart immediately and would seek to calm the markets over the coming ‘weeks and months’.

But he said a new Prime Minister should be in place for the Conservative Party conference in October. Boris Johnson, who led the Brexit campaign, will be the overwhelming favourite to take over.

‘I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,’ he said.

‘This is not a decision I have taken lightly but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.

‘There is no need for a precise timetable today but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn watched on a screen as Mr Cameron announced his resignation in the wake of the EU referendum vote.  He is also coming under intense pressure over his role in the botched Remain campaign

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn watched on a screen as Mr Cameron announced his resignation in the wake of the EU referendum vote.  He is also coming under intense pressure over his role in the botched Remain campaign

He added: ‘Delivering stability will be important. And I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my cabinet for the next three months.’

Mr Cameron said he had spoken to the Queen this morning to alert her to his decision. He also said he would not be triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the formal mechanism for leaving the EU.

‘The negotiation with the EU will need to begin under a new Prime Minister and I think it is right this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU,’ Mr Cameron said.  

‘The British people have made a choice that not only needs to be respected but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.

‘Britain is a special country, we have so many great advantages – a Parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate.

‘A great trading nation with our science and arts, our engineering and creativity, respected the world over.‘And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multi racial, multi faith democracy where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest their talent allows.’

Hundreds of media were packed into Downing Street to watch Mr Cameron deliver his resignation statement in the wake of the referendum

Hundreds of media were packed into Downing Street to watch Mr Cameron deliver his resignation statement in the wake of the referendum

Both Mr and Mrs Cameron appeared to be struggling to hold back tears as as they walked out of Number 10 for him to announce his resignation as Prime Minister

Both Mr and Mrs Cameron appeared to be struggling to hold back tears as as they walked out of Number 10 for him to announce his resignation as Prime Minister

He went on: ‘Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I have said before Britain can survive outside the EU and indeed that we could find a way.

‘Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way. I will do everything I can to help.

‘I love this country, and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.’

Moments after Mr Cameron finished speaking, Mr Carney made a televised statement from the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street urging calm.

He said it was ‘inevitable’ there would be a period of ‘uncertainty’ in the wake of the Brexit vote, and admitted it would take ‘some time’ for the UK to forge new arrangements with the EU and the rest of the world.

But the governor – who previously warned that Brexit was the biggest domestic risk to the economy – insisted the Bank and the Treasury had been doing ‘extensive emergency planning’.

‘We are well prepared for this,’ he said.  

The bombshell announcement came after a night of high drama that included:

  • Sunderland voted by a massive 61 per cent to 39 per cent for Brexit – far higher than expected. In Swansea, where Remain had been forecast to win by 10 percentage points, Leave ended up by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. 
  • Among a slew of poor results, Remain also only won by 51 per cent to 49 per cent in Newcastle, less than many had anticipated. 
  • The final outcome of the referendum was 51.9 per cent for Leave to 48.1 per cent, with the winning margin more than a million votes.
  • The news sent the Pound plunging against the US dollar, losing around 20 cents to hit its lowest level since 1985. The stock market is also expected to open down around 8 per cent.
  • The Bank of England has moved to reassure investors that it will take ‘all necessary steps’ to stabilise the economy   
  • The Brexit victory came despite Mr Farage admitting seconds after polls closed that Remain looked to have ‘edged’ the referendum. Boris Johnson reportedly told a passenger on the Tube that his side had lost the referendum battle.
  • Final polls had also predicted a Remain victory by up to 54-46.
  • More than 80 Tory Brexit backers writing to David Cameron urging him to stay on in Downing Street whatever the outcome.

The direction of the battle started to become clear with a shock result in Sunderland which saw the Out camp win by 61 per cent to 39 per cent. Analysis before the referendum had suggested Leave could be on track to win if they were more than six percentage points ahead.

A surprise victory for Brexit in Swansea, where the pro-EU side had been expecting to romp home, signposted a disastrous showing for Remain across Wales. Areas like Carmarthenshire decisively turned their back on Brussels.

Newcastle was less clear cut for the pro-EU side than they had hoped, seeing them sneak home by just 51 per cent to 49 per cent. 

Remain had some bright spots, with chunky wins in London, Scotland and Oxford. Wandsworth in particular piled in with a massive 77 per cent in favour of staying.

However, the big English cities and Scotland were not enough to offset the will of the rest of the country, and Leave passed the finishing post at 6am.

Speaking at a jubilant Leave.EU rally in central London, Mr Farage said June 23 would go down in history as ‘our independence day’.

In a remark that could prove controversial after Labour MP Jo Cox was shot dead last week, Mr Farage said the country was separating from the EU ‘without a single bullet being fired’ .

 ‘Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,’ he said.

‘This, if the predictions now are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people.

‘We have fought against the multinationals, we have fought against the big merchant banks, we have fought against big politics, we have fought against lies, corruption and deceit.

Nigel Farage claims a historic win for the Leave Campaign, saying the vote is 'a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people'

Nigel Farage claims a historic win for the Leave Campaign, saying the vote is ‘a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people’

A Leave campaigner celebrates in London amid scenes of utter elation with a commanding lead and just a few areas left to declare

A Leave campaigner celebrates in London amid scenes of utter elation with a commanding lead and just a few areas left to declare

‘And today honesty, decency and belief in nation, I think now is going to win.

‘And we will have done it without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired, we’d have done it by damned hard work on the ground.’

Mr Farage praised Ukip donor Arron Banks along with Labour and Tory MPs and those of ‘no party’ who have taken part in the Leave campaign.

He went on: ‘And we’ll have done it not just for ourselves, we’ll have done it for the whole of Europe.

‘I hope this victory brings down this failed project and leads us to a Europe of sovereign nation states, trading together, being friends together, cooperating together, and let’s get rid of the flag, the anthem, Brussels, and all that has gone wrong.

‘Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.’ 

Setting the stage for another independence referendum north of the border, Scottish First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status.

‘And 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.’

A discarded Vote Remain placard in Parliament Square as the country woke up to the news it has voted to leave the EU

A discarded Vote Remain placard in Parliament Square as the country woke up to the news it has voted to leave the EU

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The SNP leader added: ‘Scotland has contributed significantly to the Remain vote across the UK. That reflects the positive campaign the SNP fought, which highlighted the gains and benefits of our EU membership, and people across Scotland have responded to that positive message.

‘We await the final UK-wide result, but Scotland has spoken – and spoken decisively.’

Former first minister Alex Salmond said the ballot should take place within the next two years while negotiations were still ongoing about the UK’s exit, so that Scotland could break away from Britain before it left the bloc.    

Former Europe minister and Labour MP Keith Vaz told the BBC the outcome was a ‘catastrophe’. ‘Frankly, in a thousand years I would never have believed that the British people would have voted this way,’ he said.

‘And they have done so and I think that they voted emotionally rather than looking at the facts.

‘It’ll be catastrophic for our country, for the rest of Europe and indeed the world.’

He added: ‘The issues of immigration are extremely important, if you look at the campaign I think that there needed to be a much stronger campaign to stay in.’

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said the Conservative Party was ‘utterly preoccupied with leadership infighting rather than the future of the country’, adding: ‘This letter cannot unsay what senior Tory politicians have been telling us for weeks – that the British people simply cannot trust David Cameron.’ 

The atmosphere at the Leave.EU campaign party in London is jubilant as voters in the early stages give them a larger lead than expected and they win key battlegrounds

The atmosphere at the Leave.EU campaign party in London is jubilant as voters in the early stages give them a larger lead than expected and they win key battlegrounds

More people enjoy the party at the Leave.EU base in Westminster where people look as though they are beginning to think they may even win the referendum vote

Lib Dem former Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable said Mr Cameron’s authority would be ‘completely gone’ in the event of the Leave win.

He described holding the referendum as a ‘very bad call’ by the Prime Minister, who failed to understand what happens ‘when you just throw the cards in the air’. 

But senior Tories rallied round in an effort to protect the PM. Cabinet minister Chris Grayling – a Brexit backer – said: ‘It would be an absolute nonsense if David Cameron felt, having given the country that choice, if they take the decision he couldn’t carry on the job. We are completely behind him staying, we want him to stay and that letter is a statement of commitment to his leadership.’

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s hard-right Front National, hailed the referendum result as a 'victory for liberty' on Twitter

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s hard-right Front National, hailed the referendum result as a ‘victory for liberty’ on Twitter

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said he did not think the Prime Minister ‘could have done any more’ and it was ‘absolutely essential’ that he remains in No 10.

He said: ‘There isn’t anybody else around the Cabinet table or outside the Cabinet, for that matter, or in any of the other political parties who can give this country the kind of leadership skills and abilities that David Cameron can at this, what is going to be very challenging weeks and months for the country.’

He added: ‘I just think there is a disconnect with the white working class. We didn’t get our core messages across to them.

‘When we tried to explain to them just how important the European Single Market was to their jobs, their livelihoods, we didn’t quite land those messages successfully.

‘And I think that is one of the themes that is emerging this evening is that old industrial white working class areas clearly haven’t bought the message that we have tried hard to communicate.

‘In those areas which are strongly perhaps white working class there will be a strong vote for Out and that’s something as a Government we need to respond to.

‘Clearly, I think one of the features of this referendum are some of those social divisions and clearly as a Government, as a political class, all parties, we need to show that we’re responding to that.’ 

Nigel Farage looked somber as he conceded defeat at around 11pm, admitting that Remain may edge the victory, but he looked overjoyed after a series of results that were better than expected for the campaign at 12.30am

Nigel Farage looked somber as he conceded defeat at around 11pm, admitting that Remain may edge the victory, but he looked overjoyed after a series of results that were better than expected for the campaign at 12.30am

Remain campaigners celebrated as the result came in for Gibraltar which voted In overwhelmingly. But it was downhill after that as Out won key battlegrounds

Remain campaigners celebrated as the result came in for Gibraltar which voted In overwhelmingly. But it was downhill after that as Out won key battlegrounds

On the counting floor in Sunderland, there are scenes of joy as the huge win is announced, which will send ripples of hope to their fellow Brexit voters across the country 

On the counting floor in Sunderland, there are scenes of joy as the huge win is announced, which will send ripples of hope to their fellow Brexit voters across the country 

Pro-Brexit former defence secretary Liam Fox called for a ‘period of calm’ and urged the Government not to invoke article 50 straight away while insisting Mr Cameron must stay on as PM.

Dr Fox told BBC News: ‘A lot of things were said in advance of this referendum that we might want to think about again and that (invoking article 50) is one of them.

‘I think that it doesn’t make any sense to trigger article 50 without having a period of reflection first, for the Cabinet to determine exactly what it is that we’re going to be seeking and in what timescale.

‘And then you have to also consider what is happening with the French elections and the German elections next year and the implications that that might have for them.

‘So a period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are.’ 

Nigel Farage's job as an MEP will cease to exist when we leave the EU, and he has repeatedly failed to win a seat in the House of Commons 

Nigel Farage’s job as an MEP will cease to exist when we leave the EU, and he has repeatedly failed to win a seat in the House of Commons 

Young Brexiteers react with jubilation to the EU referendum results at a party thrown by Leave.EU

Young Brexiteers react with jubilation to the EU referendum results at a party thrown by Leave.EU

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: ‘I will respect the result. It’s a dreadful decision. We have to make the best of it.’

Former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles said: ‘Very sad at the decision #EUref , but that is how democracy works, so we better get on with it.’ 

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he believed around two-thirds of Labour voters backed Remain. 

‘A lot of Conservative voters have gone for out. There’s a solid base on the Tory party for out that have gone against their own Prime Minister,’ he told Sky News.

‘Within the Labour vote I think it looks as though two-thirds one-third split, might be less than that, we’ll see.’ 

Ex Labour leader Ed Miliband said a Remain majority would be ‘a vote for staying in the EU, but not a vote for the status quo in this country’.

‘Whatever happens, the country will need to come together, there will need to be healing,’ he said.

‘It’s a nation divided and the PM will have a big responsibility – particularly if it’s a Remain win – to show he understands what people are saying on the Leave side of the argument. 

SNP Minister Humza Yousaf at the EU Referendum count for Glasgow
Volunteers at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London counting the ballot papers

SNP Minister Humza Yousaf at the EU Referendum count for Glasgow (left) and volunteers at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London counting the ballot papers

As the result in Sunderland gives Brexit a huge win, Leave campaigners in London celebrate with utter jubilation at a victory so big it indicates in the early stages that they may have the edge 

As the result in Sunderland gives Brexit a huge win, Leave campaigners in London celebrate with utter jubilation at a victory so big it indicates in the early stages that they may have the edge 

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham speaks to a colleague as the EU referendum ballot vote count gets under way at the Manchester
A Remain campaigner in Glasgow

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham speaks to a colleague as the EU referendum ballot vote count gets under way at the Manchester (left). Pictured, right, is a Remain campaigner in Glasgow

The mood among Remain campaigners looked more glum. This In supporter in Northern Ireland checks his mobile phone for early results which paint a grim picture for the overall result

The mood among Remain campaigners looked more glum. This In supporter in Northern Ireland checks his mobile phone for early results which paint a grim picture for the overall result

‘Labour faces that responsibility too. As far as Labour voters are concerned, there are two issues. There is obviously immigration, but beneath that there is a whole set of issues about people’s lives and the fact that they don’t feel politics is listening to them.’ 

Ukip MEP Diane James said the large win for Leave in Sunderland could be down to anger over the local Nissan car plant writing to employees to make clear the company would prefer Britain to stay in the EU.

She told BBC News: ‘Nissan, I believe, was one of those companies that was effectively asked by the Prime Minister to write a letter to the employees and I think what you’re seeing here is the reaction to that, which I understand has been quite widespread across the country where people have actually taken offence at being directed to do something and then seemingly that whole message has been undermined in the later stage.’ 

The Bank of England said it would take ‘all necessary steps’ to ensure monetary and financial stability in the wake of the Brexit vote.

‘The Bank of England is monitoring developments closely,’ it said in a statement.

‘It has undertaken extensive contingency planning and is working closely with HM Treasury, other domestic authorities and overseas central banks. The Bank of England will take all necessary steps to meet its responsibilities for monetary and financial stability.’

But Standard & Poor’s said the Brexit decision was likely to see the country lose its AAA credit rating – potentially driving up the cost of government borrowing.

Chief ratings officer Moritz Kraemer told the Financial Times: ‘We think that a AAA-rating is untenable under the circumstances.’

The turnout in parts of Scotland were lower than the rest of the country, with Glasgow at 56.3%. In Glasgow 253,000 ballot papers were verified out of a total electorate of 449,806.

Moments after the polls closed at 10pm last night Mr Farage appeared to concede defeat. 

‘It’s been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and it looks like Remain will edge it,’ he said.

‘Ukip and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future.’   

The Leave campaign got off to a great start in Sunderland but the party didn't start prematurely at the Leave.EU party in Westminster, where volunteers eagerly await the results

The Leave campaign got off to a great start in Sunderland but the party didn’t start prematurely at the Leave.EU party in Westminster, where volunteers eagerly await the results

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But when the Sunderland result came in, Leave campaigners jumped for joy, cheered and congratulated each other after a huge win

But when the Sunderland result came in, Leave campaigners jumped for joy, cheered and congratulated each other after a huge win

David Cameron's close aide Liz Sugg attended a Stronger In referendum party at the Royal Festival Hall, where activists were wearing blue T-shirts and drinking from disposable cups

David Cameron’s close aide Liz Sugg attended a Stronger In referendum party at the Royal Festival Hall, where activists were wearing blue T-shirts and drinking from disposable cups

But speaking at a Leave.EU referendum night party later as results started to flow in, Mr Farage stressed he was not ruling out a Leave victory and ‘hoped and prayed’ his sense defeat was wrong. 

‘The Eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle. And it will now not be put back,’ he said.  

Highlighting the government’s controversial decision to extend voter registration deadline by two days to make up for the website going down for just a couple of hours, Mr Farage said: ‘My sense of this is the government’s registration scheme, getting two million voters on in the 48 hour extension maybe what tips the balance. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I am made a fool of.

‘But either way, whether I am right or wrong, if we do stay part of this union it is doomed, it is finished anyway.

‘If we fail tonight, it will not be us that kicks out the first brick from the wall but somebody else.’

He added: ‘We are running them close, they have been scared, they have behaved pretty appallingly. 

‘Win or lose this battle tonight, we will win this war, we will get our country back, we will get our independence back and we will get our borders back.’ 

Early in the night Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was among senior Remain figures who voiced confidence they were on track for victory. 

She told BBC News: ‘Obviously we’ve got a long night ahead of us. We are confident and hopeful that there will be a victory for the Remain campaign but we’ll obviously have to see.’ 

Nigel Farage told reporters that he thought the Remain camp had 'edged' the contest. He said the government's decision to extend the deadline for voter registration could have swung the result and pledged that the Eurosceptic 'genie will not be put back in the bottle'

Nigel Farage told reporters that he thought the Remain camp had ‘edged’ the contest. He said the government’s decision to extend the deadline for voter registration could have swung the result and pledged that the Eurosceptic ‘genie will not be put back in the bottle’

If there is a Remain victory the Government will go on seeking reform in the EU, she added.

‘I think if there’s been a clear win then that’s sending a message,’ Mrs Morgan said.

‘One of the things obviously is going to be implementing the reform deal the Prime Minister secured back in February.’ 

Labour’s Chuka Umunna said he still believed the outcome would be ‘close’. ‘If I was forced to call it I am reasonably confident that Remain gets a result.’  

Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, another supporter of Brexit, said her instinct was that Remain would win the vote. 

But high-profile Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith cast doubt on Mr Farage’s suggestion that Remain is set for victory.

‘I never quite follow what Nigel Farage says,’ the former work and pensions secretary told the BBC. ‘Quite often he says two different things at the same time.

‘I genuinely do not have a sense of how this has gone.’  

Ed Miliband, former leader of the Labour party, looks concerned as the votes are neck and neck in a tense referendum battle

Ed Miliband, former leader of the Labour party, looks concerned as the votes are neck and neck in a tense referendum battle

A Vote Leave source stressed that no-one could know the results yet, and suggested Mr Farage had been ‘unhelpful’ throughout the campaign.

Lord Ashdown said the result was ‘too close to call’ and insisted he had learnt not to make predictions following his promise at the general election to eat his hat after declaring the exit polls were wrong.

He said: ‘Once bittten, twice shy. I suspect eat my hat has gone down into the political lexicon against my name forever.

‘I don’t think anybody can make a prediction, this is far too close. We are in the margin of error.’

The Liberal Democrat former leader added: ‘I think there has been a bit too much hyperbole. I’m not sure the political class has covered itself in glory in this and I suspect we have an electorate that is more confused than it needs to be.’ 

Brendan Chilton, general secretary of Labour Leave, said: ‘Nigel may have said that but until the votes are counted we don’t really know what’s happened.

‘It’s a bit concerning if that is the case. I obviously hope we have won.’

Mr Chilton said his gut feeling at 10pm was that Leave would ‘win, just’. He added: ‘Even if we don’t win, if it’s close, that is a magnificent achievement.’  

Conservative former justice minister Damian Green said the result should ‘settle it for a generation’.

‘A win is a win so it should put an end to it,’ he added.  

In Gibraltar, which is taking part in the referendum as a British overseas territory within the EU, turnout was a healthy 84 per cent. 

But torrential rain and flooding in the South East caused transport disruption which may have prevented some voters from reaching the ballot box in time. Some polling stations were forced to close, and two in Kingston-upon-Thames had to be relocated after becoming inundated.

Paddy Ashdown joins supporters for the Stronger Together campaign in the shadow of the London Eye as they await the result

Paddy Ashdown joins supporters for the Stronger Together campaign in the shadow of the London Eye as they await the result

The campaigns have brought people from different parties together, with Labour's Chuka Umunna, Member of Parliament for Streatham, and Conservative Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, campaigning together

The campaigns have brought people from different parties together, with Labour’s Chuka Umunna, Member of Parliament for Streatham, and Conservative Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, campaigning together

Eddie Izzard joins supporters of the Stronger In Campaign at Royal Festival Hall in London after a hard-fought campaign the will finally come to an end when the official result is announced just after 7am

Eddie Izzard joins supporters of the Stronger In Campaign at Royal Festival Hall in London after a hard-fought campaign the will finally come to an end when the official result is announced just after 7am

As the polls closed, more than 80 Brexit rebels in David Cameron’s Tory party sent a letter to Downing Street urging him to stay on as PM whatever the result.

With Mr Cameron’s Remain campaign appearing on course for victory in the referendum, the group led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove reached out an olive branch.

The intention of the letter – made public as soon as polls closed in the referendum – was to begin the process of healing wounds in the Tory Party.

Some 84 Tories signed the letter to tell Mr Cameron: ‘We believe whatever the British people decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our policies.’

As well as Mr Johnson and Mr Gove, the signatories included Cabinet-level Brexit backers Chris Grayling and John Whittingdale, but not Iain Duncan Smith, who quit as work and pensions secretary shortly before the referendum.

Tory MP Robert Syms said that two-thirds of Conservative MPs who broke with the PM to back Leave had signed the letter, but said it had not been possible to reach all of them to ask them to sign. 

Mr Duncan Smith said he was not asked to sign the letter but insisted Mr Cameron should stay on as PM.

Mr Duncan Smith told BBC News: ‘Actually I wasn’t asked to sign the letter but I’ve been very public all along to say that I think he has a duty to stay.

‘I’m not in government any longer so I assume that’s why I wasn’t asked – I’m just a backbencher.’

Mr Farage’s early pessimism about the prospects for Brexit triggered a rise in the value of Sterling by almost a cent against the dollar as the markets breathed a sigh of relief. 

The counter at Sunderland rushes to get the results through in the city first to return their verdict in tonight's referendum 

The counter at Sunderland rushes to get the results through in the city first to return their verdict in tonight’s referendum 

Boris Johnson hijacked his own daughter’s graduation earlier today by unveiling a Brexit banner with just hours to go until polls close in the historic EU referendum 

As his 22-year-old daughter Lara was enjoying her big day at St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland, the leading Vote Leave campaigner waved a poster with the words: ‘Last chance to vote’. 

But one student defied the ex-London Mayor by marching up to collect her degree with a Remain poster of her own as voters went to the polls across the country. 

Mr Johnson performed the stunt as he sat in the balcony of the Younger Hall alongside his wife Marina Wheeler QC, revealing the poster to the packed audience and causing mayhem as students then unveiled their own ‘Remain’ messages to the crowds. 

Lara Johnson was awarded a degree in Latin and Comparative Literature from the Scottish university. Her dad flew up to Scotland for the occasion, posing for selfies with excited students after four months of hard-fought campaigning to persuade voters to back Britain leaving the EU. 

Ali West said she could not pass up the opportunity to make the Remain case to Mr Johnson, insisting: ‘Boris Johnson was in the audience at my graduation today, so naturally I had some thoughts.’ 

Speaking this evening, the Leave champion said: ‘From what I have heard and all the information is that turnout is good in areas where we need it to be.’  

Regional Counting Officer Sue Stanhope announces the turnout for Sunderland as 64.9 per cent and Leave emerge victorious with 61.3 per cent of the vote. It's a good start for Brexit as experts said that a six per cent lead would suggest the vote would finish tied

Regional Counting Officer Sue Stanhope announces the turnout for Sunderland as 64.9 per cent and Leave emerge victorious with 61.3 per cent of the vote. It’s a good start for Brexit as experts said that a six per cent lead would suggest the vote would finish tied

The Former Mayor of London and Vote Leave Campaigner Boris Johnson on the tube on his way vote at his local polling station today. It's a day on which he has spent plenty of time on the move, watching his daughter graduate from St Andrew's in Scotland

The Former Mayor of London and Vote Leave Campaigner Boris Johnson on the tube on his way vote at his local polling station today. It’s a day on which he has spent plenty of time on the move, watching his daughter graduate from St Andrew’s in Scotland

Nigel Farage arrives at the Brexit party in Westminster and is pictured with his trademark pint of ale but looks less than happy as it looks like the Leave campaign is heading for defeat

Nigel Farage arrives at the Brexit party in Westminster and is pictured with his trademark pint of ale but looks less than happy as it looks like the Leave campaign is heading for defeat

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage has shown a multitude of expressions throughout the evening. In this picture he looks hopeful from the Brexit party in Westminster, London
He later appears shocked as he is interviewed
In this picture he looks confused during a night which will no doubt be an emotional roller coaster for the man who has campaigned for Brexit for 25 years

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has shown a multitude of expressions throughout the evening. From hope (left), to shock (centre) and confusion (right), the evening will be a rollercoaster for the man who has campaigned on the issue for 25 years

DON’T GO DAVE! BREXIT REBELS URGE CAMERON TO STAY ON AS PM WHETHER HE WINS REFERENDUM OR NOT

More than 80 Brexit rebels in David Cameron’s Tory party tonight sent a letter to Downing Street urging him to stay on as PM.

With Mr Cameron’s Remain campaign appearing on course for victory in the referendum, the group led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove reached out an olive branch.

The intention of the letter – made public as soon as polls closed in the referendum – is to begin the process of healing wounds in the Tory Party.

Some 84 Tories signed the letter to tell Mr Cameron: ‘We believe whatever the British people decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our policies.’

As well as Mr Johnson and Mr Gove, the signatories included Cabinet-level Brexit backers Chris Grayling and John Whittingdale, but not Iain Duncan Smith, who quit as work and pensions secretary shortly before the referendum. 

A volunteer in Manchester Central is seen yawning at the beginning of what is likely to be a long evening for all of those involved, with the official result not expected to be announced until after 7am

A volunteer in Manchester Central is seen yawning at the beginning of what is likely to be a long evening for all of those involved, with the official result not expected to be announced until after 7am

Pollsters have been left licking their wounds after following up on their abject failure to predict last year’s general election result by calling the referendum wrong.

Last night a flurry of eve-of-referendum polls suggested the result is still too close to call. 

A YouGov poll for The Times gave Remain a lead of 51 to 49. FTI Consulting gave Remain the edge by 51.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent once ‘don’t knows’ are taken out.

YouGov chief Peter Kellner has admitted that the failure was ’embarrassing’. 

Two further polls by Opinium and TNS showed the reverse, with Leave on 51 per cent and Remain on 49 per cent. 

Opinium Research recorded a tiny lead for Brexit in its final survey of 3,000 voters this week as it found 45 per cent backed Leave and 44 per cent backed Remain.

But after taking into account the margin of error in the study, the firm declared it impossible to predict a winner.

A week ago, Opinium had the referendum tied at 44 per cent each while at the start of June the pollster had Remain ahead 43-41.

The poll fits with the mixed found by all of the polling firms in the last week of the race, with some results showing small leads for either side while other showed a tie.

By contrast, betting markets have continued to show Remain as the strong favourite as the race enters its final hours. 

Adam Drummond, of Opinium Research said: ‘This really is ”too close to call” territory with undecided voters holding the balance of the vote in their hands.

‘Although referendum campaigns normally see a move back to the status quo as we get closer to polling day, this hasn’t yet shown up in our polls and the Remain camp will have to hope that it happens in the polling booth itself if Britain is to stay in the European Union.’ 

In its latest poll, Opinium interviewed 3,011 voters between Monday and Wednesday. 

HERE IS THE PRIME MINISTER’S RESIGNATION STATEMENT IN FULL FOLLOWING THE BREXIT VOTE IN EU REFERENDUM 

The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise – perhaps the biggest in our history. Over 33 million people – from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – have all had their say.

We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people with these big decisions.

We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we are governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves – and that is what we have done.

The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest.

And let me congratulate all those who took part in the leave campaign – for the spirited and passionate case that they made.

The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered. It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision.

So there can be no doubt about the result.

Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made. I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong.

And I would also reassure Brits living in European countries and European citizens living here that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments, to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.

But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.

I am very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years.

I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history; with reforms to welfare and education; increasing people’s life chances; building a bigger and stronger society; keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.

But above all restoring Britain’s economic strength, and I am grateful to everyone who has helped to make that happen.

I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions – not duck them.

That’s why we delivered the first Coalition government in seventy years to bring our economy back from the brink. It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland. And why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union and hold a referendum on our membership, and have carried those things out.

I fought this campaign in the only way I know how – which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.

I held nothing back.

I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union, and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician, including myself.

But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.

I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.

There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party Conference in October.

Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next three months. The Cabinet will meet on Monday.

The Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets. We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen’s Speech. And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.

A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.

I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision.

The British people have made a choice. That not only needs to be respected – but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.

Britain is a special country.

We have so many great advantages.

A parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate; a great trading nation, with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity respected the world over.

And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.

Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I have said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union and indeed that we could find a way.

Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way, and I will do everything I can to help.

I love this country – and I feel honoured to have served it.

And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.

 

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