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Brexit Poles Show Britian Staying In EU; Stocks Rise

Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2016 – 3:05 PM

(AFP) The pound surged late Thursday to $1.50 after Britain voted in a historic referendum on whether to stay in the European Union, with late opinion polls pointing to a “Remain” victory.

The pound hit its highest level so far this year, adding 1.8 percent for the day, as markets grew confident that the movement to pull the country out of the 28-member EU had failed.

Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2016 – 2:43 PM

(AFP) A top anti-Brussels campaigner said it appeared Britain had narrowly voted to remain in the EU, as counting began Thursday after millions voted in a bitterly-fought historic referendum.

A record 46.5 million people registered to vote in the once-in-a-generation referendum, many of them facing torrential rain, floods, and cancelled trains to take a momentous decision that is being watched across Europe and the world.

Nigel Farage, leader of the pro-“Leave” UK Independence Party, told Sky News that it “looks like Remain will edge it” just as polls closed after a vitriolic battle focused on immigration, the economy and Britain’s very identity.

After an “extraordinary” campaign, it looked like turnout had been “exceptionally high”, he said. Turnout in the tiny British outpost of Gibraltar was 84 percent, according to BBC News.

One of the final surveys, a YouGov survey, indicated a 52-48 percent advantage for the “Remain” camp, led by Prime Minister David Cameron who made a high-stakes gamble by promising the referendum in 2013.

The poll surveyed a representative sample of people who had voted but was not a nationwide exit survey.

World stocks had already rallied in hope of a “Remain” win.

Sterling hit a 2016 high earlier in the day. London, Frankfurt and Paris stock markets all made gains.

Official results will start to trickle in within hours but a solid indication is not expected until at least 0300 GMT.

– Crisis -European leaders fear a so-called Brexit would trigger the biggest crisis in its 60-year history of the bloc, set up to forge peace after two world wars.

Jenny Watson, who chairs the Electoral Commission referendum overseers and will announce the official result, said recounts would not take place “simply because the vote was close”.

“If it’s a dead heat then it’s a dead heat. There is no casting vote,” she told the BBC.

Leave figurehead Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, said the race was “very close”, as he returned to the British capital from Edinburgh.

Several polling stations had to be relocated due to flooding and one was being run on a generator due to a power outage.

The referendum asks: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

Commentators suggest Brexit could trigger a constitutional crisis in Britain, prompting another Scottish independence referendum.

There are also fears it could prompt other EU countries, disillusioned with how Brussels has handed the eurozone and migrant crises, to try to break away.

– Voting in a launderette -Polling stations have been set up at locations including churches, schools and even a launderette and a windmill.

Outside a polling station in suburban Biggin Hill, south of London, 55-year-old Steve Annett, who works in publishing, said: “We’re stronger together working with our European neighbours.

“Obviously the economy is a major concern,” he told AFP.

Meanwhile pensioner Wendie said older people were “fed up of being taken over, our laws being taken over by the EU. Why can’t we rule our own country?”

Thousands of people queued to vote in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, which borders Spain.

Gibraltar’s mayor Adolfo Canepa told reporters he was worried about the future if Britain left the EU.

“I know what it was like to live for all those years when the frontier was closed and I wouldn’t like to put my children and grandchildren through that again,” he said.

The often acrimonious campaign has exposed a wide gulf between Britons on the country’s often troubled four-decade membership of the European club.

EU leaders have warned Britain — the world’s fifth-largest economy — that there would be no turning back from a vote to quit.

“Out is out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday, dismissing any talk of a post-vote renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms.

In many European countries, newspapers pleaded “Please don’t go” while several monuments were lit up with the British flag.

– Cameron invokes Churchill -At his final rally on Wednesday, Cameron implored people to stay in the bloc, invoking Britain’s cigar-chomping wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.

“Churchill didn’t give up on European democracy… and we shouldn’t walk away,” he said.

The referendum battle was shaken by the brutal murder of Jo Cox, a pro-“Remain” Labour lawmaker and mother of two who was stabbed and shot in the street one week before the vote.

Thomas Mair, 52, has been charged with her murder and had a provisional trial date set for November at a court hearing on Thursday.

EU leaders will begin a two-day summit Tuesday to deal with the outcome and decide how to cope with the risk of similar referendums on the continent.


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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