23-24 June 2016

05.34am – Europe wakes up to  reality of Brexit

Foreign reactions are starting to pour in as Europe wakes up to Brexit. “Damn! A bad day for Europe,” tweets the Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel waking up to the news of the UK leaving.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein is allegedly calling for a referendum on removing the Irish border after Northern Ireland voted Remain.

More despair from Alexander Stubb, until recently the Finnish Finance Minister.

Others are celebrating, including Marion Le Pen of Front National and niece of Marine Le Pen.

04.15am – Farage ready to celebrate “independence day”

More than half of the results have now been announced, with Leave looking the more likely to win. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has told journalists that he is now “daring to dream” of victory, adding, “Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.”

03.22am – Increasing number of people forecasting Leave win

Results continue to come in thick and fast, with the overall result broadly tied at this point. As we reported earlier, those bad premonitions of Welsh Remain campaigners are coming through with most results there coming out for Remain. As things stand, Leave leads Remain by around 10 points in Wales, 55% to 45%. In England, there have also been a clutch of good results for Leave in Rugby and Watford – both areas Remain would have reasonably expected to win. Unlike many of the Labour heartland areas that have come out strongly for Leave, these areas are relatively affluent and so it is harder to characterise these results as a protest against globalisation or the decline of traditional industries. As seems increasingly in fitting with the trend of the night, Nuneaton and Oldham – both of which we identified as among the of 20 key seats to watch.

Still many votes left to count, but it looks like an increasing number of people are forecasting a Leave win.

03.10am – The results from Belfast

All four constituencies in the Northern Irish capital have now declared. Leave won in Belfast East (51.4% to 48.6%), while Remain won in Belfast South (69.5% to 30.5%), Belfast West (74.1% to 25.9%), and Belfast North (50.4% to 49.6%). Two of the constituencies (North and East) are currently controlled by the Democratic Unionist Party, while Sinn Féin (West) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (South) hold one each.

02.44am – Some better news for Remain

Following our last update, we have had a bunch of results coming in, with many of them providing some better news for Remain, even allowing them to take the lead nationwide. London was always going to be strongly pro-Remain but the two results from Lambeth – 111,584 (78.6%) and 30,340 (21.4%) on a turnout of 67.4% and belatedly from Wandsworth – 118,463 (75%) and 39,421 (25%) on a turnout of 72%. These results are better than Remain may have expected – and deliver big vote totals – but will it be enough to counterbalance the loss of many smaller areas across the UK? Other good news came from Glasgow where Remain won with 168,335 (66.6%) to 84,474 (33.4%) but on a disappointing turnout of 56.2% given it is the 3rd single largest area. Oxford rounded off the good news for Remain where it won by 49,424 (70.3%) to 20,913 (29.7%) on a turnout of 72.3%.

02.20am – Leave with wind in their sails?

Swansea narrowly voting for Leave (see 02.05am) is probably the biggest shock of the night so far. Elsewhere, the results have gone broadly as expected – albeit with larger margins of victory for Leave boosted by the high turnout in these areas. For example, Basildon voted to Leave by 67,251 to 30,748 on a turnout of 74% while Hartlepool (Peter Mandelson’s former constituency) voted to Leave by 32,071 (69.6%) to 14,029 (30.4%) on a turnout of 66%.

Meanwhile, Blaenau Gwent in South Wales has also backed Brexit by 21,587 (62%) to 13,215 (38%) on a turnout of 68.1% – higher than in the 2015 General Election (61.7%). So far, the widely expected trend of voters in Labour heartlands backing Leave is very much in evidence.

In contrast, areas like Scotland and London, which are most favourable to Remain, have slightly lower turnout.

02.05am – Bad news for Remain from Swansea (Wales)

Swansea has just declared, and it’s a narrow Leave win – 51.5% to 48.5%. Bad news for the Remain camp, as this was thought to be relatively favourable territory for them.

01.40am – Some more results from Northern Ireland

After nationalist controlled Foyle came out for Remain (see 12:48am), unionist controlled North Antrim has come out strongly for Brexit with 18,782 (37.7%) for Remain and 30,938 (62.2%) for Leave. The seat was formerly held by the ultra-Eurosceptic Reverend Ian Paisely so it was always going to be one of the most pro-Leave areas of the country. Lagan Valley, also controlled by the DUP at Westminster has come out for Leave but by a much more narrow margin 22,710 (46.9%) for Remain, 25,704 (53.1%) for Leave.

01.26am – What do the results tell us so far?

Some initial thoughts from our analyst Pawel Swidlicki:

Results are starting to come in from around the country. We are still waiting for our first result from Wales, but sources within the Remain camp are speculating Leave might pull off an overall win there. If that is the case, traditional Labour voters in South Wales will have played a big part, with many of them potentially motivated by the struggles of the steel industry which the Leave campaign have linked to EU membership and specifically state aid rules. Meanwhile, a couple of areas including Kettering and South Tyneside have voted for Leave in line with expectations. Further positive news for Remain coming out of Scotland where they have won the Shetland Islands and West Dunbartonshire. However, Britain Elects suggests Dumfries and Galloway could be a Leave win – as we suggested in our referendum preview, this could be Leave’s best chance of a win north of the border.

01.13am – Swindon votes Leave. Is the result as bad as it seems for Remain?

As a bellwether in parliamentary elections, Swindon was on Open Europe’s list of 20 areas to watch out for. It has backed Brexit with 51,220 votes (45.3%) in favour of Remain and 61,745 (54.7%) for Leave. This is however not as bad a result for Remain as it appears on the surface – as we noted in our guide “Swindon comes in at 78 and 105, making it the kind of area Leave should be aiming to win.” The margin of victory for Leave is therefore not relatively as good as in Sunderland.

12.48am – First result from Northern Ireland as Remain win in Foyle

Foyle in Northern Ireland is for Remain – 32,640 (78.2%) to 8,905 (21.7%). This is not a huge surprise, at Westminster Foyle is represented by the nationalist SDLP. At 57%, turnout is below the UK average however.

12.20am – Big win for Leave in Sunderland

Twitter has been awash with rumours that Leave had won big in Sunderland and this has now been officially confirmed. On a high turnout of 65%, Remain took 51,930 (38.6%) compared to 82,394 (61.3%) for Leave. As we noted in our preview, Leave will have been expecting to win in Sunderland but the margin of the victory is very high, much higher than expected. This has sent sterling crashing through the floor:

12.10am – First result from Scotland: Remain take the Orkney Islands

Another declaration earlier than expected, this one from Scotland, specifically from the Orkney Islands. As expected, a win for Remain with 7,189 votes (63.2%) compared to 4,193 for Leave (36.8%). How representative will this be of Scotland as a whole? We shall find out in due course.

12:01am – Newcastle narrowly pro-Remain

Newcastle has beaten Sunderland to be first mainland area to declare. On a relatively high turnout of 67.6%, Remain on a narrow victory – of 129,002 votes cast, Remain took 65,404 (50.7%) compared to 63,598 (49.3%) for Leave. Remain were expected to win Newcastle by a larger margin so this will be seen as a good result for Leave. That said, according to our demographic ranking, Newcastle came in at 148/376 so arguably more favourable to Leave than widely believed.

11:55pm – Farage: Win or lose this battle, we will win this war

Nigel Farage is arguably the most talkative of all party leaders in these early stages. He just said, “Win or lose this battle, we will win this war. We will get our country back”, adding that “the Eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle.”

If anything, his remarks show that a close victory for either camp would be unlikely to settle the Europe question in the UK.

11:40pm – Gibraltar declares overwhelming for Remain

So we have the first official results. They come from Gibraltar, in great advance on the Electoral Commission’s estimates, beating Sunderland to the punch.

Of 20,172 votes cast, 19,322 are for Remain and only 823 are for Leave.

No huge surprise there – given its position, Gibraltar was always expected to be solidly pro-Remain.

11.08pm – What might we expect from Sunderland?

Counting is taking place in Sunderland which looks set to be the first declaration of the night. Here is what we wrote in our referendum night guide about what we might expect:

Sunderland, the 40th largest counting area with some 200,000 eligible voters, is an interesting first result as it is a safe Labour seat with considerable numbers of older, lower income voters without university degrees, all strong indicators of support for Brexit. UKIP finished second in each of Sunderland’s three parliamentary seats with around 20% of the vote, and there have been many recent reports ‘from the doorstep’ that traditional Labour voters in less affluent areas are declaring for Leave in large numbers, largely motivated by concerns over migration. Sunderland will be the first opportunity to verify these reports.

Sunderland comes in at 174 on the BES ranking and at 29 on the demographic ranking so we would expect Leave to win here if they are also on course to win nationally. The margin of the win and the turnout will also be important; a narrow victory for Leave might suggest they will struggle to breakthrough in less favourable areas while a victory by any margin would be very good news for Remain. The risk for Leave is that despite winning over such voters to their cause, they then fail to turn up on the day; turnout among lower income groups tends to be well below average.

11.03pm – Senior French diplomat: Brexit or not, Brits will come to Brussels with list of demands

Meanwhile, reactions are also starting to come in from further afield. Gérard Araud, the French Ambassador to the US, has just tweeted the following (from his personal account):

Update (11:22pm) The Ambassador has since deleted his tweet… 

10:55pm – Is this how the vote will split along party lines?

YouGov have now released a breakdown of their on the day poll in terms of party support – the results are interesting. If confirmed, Cameron will be disappointed not to have at least taken half the Tory vote while Jermey Corbyn, who many feared was undermining the Remain campaign vote due to his lukewarm enthusiasm, could argue his approach has been vindicated.

10:45pm – Ipsos Mori on the day poll also shows Remain win

Ipsos Mori have also carried out an on the day poll (again, not an exit poll) which has Remain at 54% and Leave at 46% so a slightly better margin for Remain than YouGov.

10:23pm – 84 Brexit-backing Tory MPs want Cameron to stay in No 10 whatever the result

The future of the Conservative party has been the subject of intense speculation during the campaign – how easy will it be for the party to come back together and get on with day-to-day government in the wake of such an acrimonious campaign? Well, a letter organised by Robert Syms MP has been delivered to Number 10 calling on David Cameron to remain in post whatever the result of the referendum signed by 84 Brexit-backing MPs (including the prominent figures such as Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Andrea Leadsome).

Notably, that means around 79 Brexit backing Tory MPs have not explicitly backed Cameron to remain in post – well over the 50 necessary to trigger a leadership challenge. Whether or not Cameron himself would want to stay on in the event of a Leave vote remains to be seen.

10:11pm – Farage says Remain may have “edged it”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has told Sky News that it’s been an “extraordinary referendum” and Remain may have “edged it”.

10:05pm – YouGov on-the-day poll: Remain 52%, Leave 48%. This is NOT an exit poll

YouGov have just disclosed the results of polling they have conducted during referendum day.

Remain: 52%

Leave: 48%

Note that this is NOT an exit poll. It’s a normal poll, although YouGov have got in touch with voters they had surveyed previously to try and gauge any shift on referendum day.

There won’t be any exit polls.

As a reminder, exit polls are samples of certain polling stations around the country where results are compared to historical data to obtain a national picture. Clearly, with an unprecedented vote such as this one, that type of exercise is not possible.

The usual caveat apply. As with all polling with this referendum, it’s hard to know how accurate this survey is.

9:43pm – Are we set for a high turnout and what could that mean?

With polls neck and neck over the past few days (Britain Elects’ final poll of polls has Remain on 51% and Leave on 49%) there has been much speculation as to the turnout, with higher turnout seen as favouring Remain and vice-versa. Most Westminster observers anticipated that turnout would be lower than the 66.4% we saw in last year’s general election. However, there has been much chatter today that we could be set for a considerably higher turnout (despite the severe weather disruptions in London and the South East). Some of this has been based on anecdotal evidence (which should be taken with a pinch of salt) but also some official sources.

High turnout will probably favour Remain over Leave. However, as noted by Tim Shipman, high turnout among less wealthy, working class voters could boost the prospects of Brexit. Likewise, Remain will be buoyed by a high turnout in Scotland which is expected to back continued EU membership by a healthy margin. Ultimately, the fact that every vote counts in this referendum (unlike in Westminster elections where most voters live in safe seats) could have incentivised voters who might normally not bother to come out – the question is, which side will that help most?

9:00pm – Background

Good evening. With polls set to close in one hour, here is a bit of background from our guide on how the count will be organised on a practical level, and what we think are the crucial results to look out for.

There are 382 counting areas in total: the 380 local government authorities of England, Scotland and Wales as well as one each for Northern Ireland (although results will be broken down by its 18 parliamentary constituencies) and Gibraltar. These counting areas range hugely in terms of their electorates – Birmingham is by far the largest area with around 700,000 eligible voters, while the Isles of Scilly is the smallest with around 1,600. Results will start coming in from around midnight through to 7am.

Using British Election Survey (BES) data from May 2015 compiled and kindly made public by Professor Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia, as well as demographic data compiled by Sky News, we have drawn up a ranking of the individual voting areas according to their levels of support for Brexit. Even though the voting intention figures are of little use given how out of date they are, the ranking still gives us a sense of individual areas’ underlying favourability towards Brexit relative to each other. This in turn will give us a sense of whether Remain and Leave are over or under-performing on the night in their relative geographical strongholds.

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We have also picked out 20 areas from across the country that we think are worth paying particular attention to as they could give us a good idea as to the broader national picture, and also because they represent key sub-plots in the referendum drama:

  • Leave is expected to perform well in less affluent areas populated by lower skilled and older voters, particularly in Eastern England, while Remain is expected to do well in cities, particularly those with a large proportion of university graduates. Closer than expected results in areas declaring early could give us an indication of how the national vote has gone.
  • Watch out for traditional Labour strongholds in Northern England, the Midlands and South Wales to see whether much of the core Labour vote will end up supporting Leave as is being widely forecast.
  • Significant regional variance is expected, especially between the different constituent parts of the UK. Scotland is expected to be heavily for Remain; a significant divergence with the result from England and/or the UK-wide result could lead to tensions in the future. In Northern Ireland, the degree of divergence between nationalist and unionist voters will also be noteworthy.
  • Areas such as Swindon and Nuneaton, where swing voters broke for the Conservatives in the 2015 General Election, will once again be important to watch.
  • Turnout will be important, especially in metropolitan areas where Remain are relying on a good turnout among young voters.
  • Expect to have a good idea about the result by 5am unless it remains incredibly close.

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We will be focusing on these 20 areas (and others) in our coverage all through the night.