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'World of Uncertainty' Unleashed as UK Votes to Leave European Union

With nearly 72% of the votes tallied, the 'Leave' campaign claimed victory with 52% of the vote compared to 48% who voted to 'Remain.'

Nika Knight

With nearly 72% of the votes tallied, the 'Leave' campaign claimed victory with 52% of the vote compared to 48% who voted to 'Remain.'

Update: UK Votes to Quit EU

With enough of the votes counted for media outlets to make a call, it was confirmed just by several in the early hours of Friday morning that the UK has officially voted to leave the European Union.

The value of the British pound plunged in reaction to the news and the world's financial markets fell into jitters amid an "unraveling" of expectations the referendum would go the other way. As the Guardian's Simon Goodley reports:

There’s a state of shock in the City this morning, as investors digest the news that Britain appears to have voted to leave the European Union.

Markets had rallied yesterday on expectations that the remain side would win, so traders are now facing the prospect of a huge selloff this morning.

Representing the reaction of many British and European progressives, Nick Dearden, director of the UK-based campaign organization Global Justice Now, said the outcome was deeply troubling, though not shocking.

"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," Dearden said. "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'."

"Britain’s decision to leave the European Union opens up a world of uncertainty in which we must now navigate in a positive direction," he added. "Under these conditions, it’s even more important that organisations and activists redouble their efforts to oppose toxic trade deals, corporate power grabs and above all defend the rights and dignity of migrants." 

Watch live coverage via The Guardian/UK stream:


On the same day that UK residents vote as to whether the country should leave or remain in the EU, torrential rains descended on England, stranding many in London as railway terminals closed, while other Brits were stuck on the continent as a result of French labor strikes.

Yet millions of voters battled the conditions to head to the polls. In Scotland, where the weather was sunnier, turnout was predicted to be as high as 80 percent.

Tracking updates, The Guardian was offering live coverage here and will post returns here throughout the evening and overnight.

MP Nigel Farage, one of the foremost voices for the "leave" camp, hypothesized that the poor weather in England could benefit his position. But reports on the ground don't seem to indicate that outcome. As The Guardian's David Pegge reports:

Despite comments from Nigel Farage earlier in the day anticipating that the bad weather could favour the leave campaign by putting off "soft remainers," local activists canvassing outside schools and stations in an effort to reach parents and commuters said they felt positive.

"Turnout appears to have been fairly high. An awful lot of people are saying 'I've already voted,'" said Freddie Wilkinson, leafleting outside Highbury and Islington station.

"There are quite a few people trickling in," said Jo Wood, one of a group of Labour party members out campaigning. "People are voting."

Results for the area are expected to be declared after 1:30am, making it one of the earlier counts for London.

Indeed, with polls closing nationwide at 10pm, the final results for all locations are not expected until 6am. The Guardian has a roundup of when results for various council areas are expected to come in, and how the results are expected to evolve as the night wears on.

With no exit poll results allowed before the polls close, observers were consulting the most recent voter surveys, which showed "remain" ahead by a slim margin:

As the day reaches a close in England, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks began hosting a live broadcast from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to discuss the referendum's history, context, and potential ramifications, while observers wait for poll results to begin trickling in.

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