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Britain holds its breath for verdict after EU referendum vote - live updates

Published 24/06/2016

People queuing outside a polling station in Dalston, London, as voters go the polls in the EU referendum.
People queuing outside a polling station in Dalston, London, as voters go the polls in the EU referendum.

The polls have closed and counting is under way as Britain awaits the outcome of the EU referendum.

Prime Minister David Cameron and his Remain camp have warned repeatedly during the campaign of severe economic consequences if the country votes out, while Boris Johnson's Leave team has insisted it is time to "take back control".

First results are expected from around 11pm, and there will also be indications of the all-important turnouts at the 382 counts before the results are declared.

Results should be in full flow from around 2am, tapering off by 6am. Results are likely to be complete by 10am, and the final result will be declared at Manchester Town Hall by Jenny Watson, chairman of the Electoral Commission and the chief counting officer for the referendum.

Turnout figures will provide a rolling indication of the approximate "winning post" for Remain and Leave during the night, and the outcome may become clear as the volume of results increases.

The first lead story after the polls close will be POLITICS EU, and there will be further leads throughout the night, along with a variety of sidebars.

POLITICS EU Live will provide rapid, short updates, including early indications from counts, reaction, colour, and highlights from social media. It will also carry advisories on the best PA stills, graphics and video, and other guidance on the unfolding events. POLITICS EU Live will also include a regular at-a-glance view of the latest turnouts declared, the subsequent results declared and estimated winning post.

A YouGov poll released at 10pm suggested Remain was at 52% and Leave on 48%.

Sky News reported Ukip's Nigel Farage as saying it "looks like Remain will edge it".

PA data journalist Ian Jones points out that the highest turnout in previous UK referendums is 84.6% - from the 2014 vote on Scottish independence.

Find the Tweet here:

A "Brexit Party" organised by the Leave.EU campaign group kicked off at Millbank Tower in central London just before polls closed with a performance by British soul singer Kenny Thomas who found success in the 1990s.

Mr Thomas was followed on stage by Gwen Dickey from the American group Rose Royce - perhaps best known for the hit single Car Wash.

Leading Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith said: "I'm very glad to find myself at the end of this.

"I genuinely don't have a sense. We are in uncharted territory."

Mr Duncan Smith added: "The Conservative Party has an instinct, once the argument is over we have to get on and govern."

Responding to reports that Nigel Farage believes Remain will narrowly win the referendum, 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 said: "Even if we don't win, if it's close, that is a magnificent achievement."

A letter signed by 84 MPs, two thirds of whom openly backed Vote Leave, has been delivered to Downing Street, urging David Cameron to stay on whichever way the result goes.

Poole MP Robert Syms tweeted a picture of the signatories to the letter, who included prominent Brexit campaigners such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel and Andrea Leadsom.

Find the tweet here:

His timeline also contains further segments of the letter:

Jenny Watson, chief counting officer, will announce the referendum result at Manchester Town Hall after all 382 local totals have been certified and declared.

"We expect that will happen early tomorrow morning," she said.

Any recounts will take place at a local level only, as there is no facility for a national or regional recount, she added.

The pound surged after the polls closed, reaching its best level against the dollar in 2016 at close to US dollar 1.50.

Trading had been strong throughout the day, suggesting increased confidence in Remain edging the vote.

Pollsters Ipsos Mori have Remain at 54% following analysis from yesterday and today - a bigger lead than that projected by YouGov's poll.

Find the tweet from Ipso Mori chief executive Ben Page:

David Cameron has thanked people who voted for Britain to stay in the European Union, posting on Facebook: "Thank you everyone who voted to keep Britain stronger, safer and better off in Europe - and to the thousands of Remain campaigners around the UK."

Find the post here:

PA's ballot box picture has just run, as the counting begins at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.

Arron Banks, co-founder of Leave.EU, told the Press Association he was unsure about which way the vote will go.

He said: "I actually don't know. I know Nigel's slightly sceptical.

"I think he's probably worried - after 25 years he's probably entitled to be.

"We've just done a poll of 10,000 people, it was 52/48. I think the other poll was 48/52, very similar.

"I think the turnout is interesting. If it is 84%, that's a huge number and it could be people that have never voted before coming out.

"On the face of it I would think that would probably be Outers rather than Inners."

Mr Banks rated the chances of victory for Leave at "50/50" as he praised Leave.EU's "great" campaign.

He also said he did not mind that Mr Farage had suggested Remain will win.

He said: "It doesn't matter what Mr Farage says - after 10 o'clock everyone's voted."

Boris Johnson has tweeted for the first time since the 10pm deadline passed, writing: "The polls have now closed, democracy has been served + we await the verdict of the people. Thanks to everyone involved + everyone who voted."

Find the tweet:

The record turnout for a referendum in the UK is 84.6%, for the Scottish independence vote in 2014. The Good Friday agreement in 1998 delivered 81.1% and there was a 64.5% turnout for the EEC membership vote in 1975.

Labour's pro-EU campaign leader Alan Johnson said if Leave are successful then the "Prime Minister goes".

He told Sky News: "Pretty quickly. I would expect him to go at 8am tomorrow morning if that is the case. I don't think it will be the case."

PA's Tom Wilkinson reports from Sunderland that the turnout figure is expected at around 11pm, with the result some time after midnight.

There are 207,000 voters on the electoral register in the city.

Ukip's only Scottish MEP David Coburn also appeared to be taking a different stance from Nigel Farage's prediction that Remain had "edged" it, tweeting: "I cannot even begin to consider a Remain win."

Find the tweet here:

A man called Lewis Iwu claims he came across Mr Johnson on the London Underground earlier tonight, adding that the former London mayor "concedes he's lost". "Just been asked on tube by @BorisJohnson if I voted leave. I say no. He concedes He's lost anyway. Awkward #EUref" Find the tweet here:

A number of Conservative MPs tweeted conciliatory messages after a campaign that has created deep schisms within the party.

Prominent Leave campaigner Priti Patel wrote: "The Conservative Party has delivered the referendum.Now back to working with colleagues to deliver the reforms we pledged in our manifesto."

International Development Secretary Justine Greening, who backs Remain, said: "Historic referendum vote is over, I'm proud a Conservative gvt gave British people their say. Now time for our party to come back together."

Ukip's Nigel Farage, who earlier reportedly said Remain would "edge it", has now told the Press Association's Parliamentary Editor Arj Singh he thinks Britain has voted to Remain.

This was based on "what I know from some of my friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling".

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

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said the Vote Leave campaign had done well to reduce the gap.

"Who would have thought, after everything that has been thrown at the Leave campaign - taxpayer-funded propaganda and the rest of it - that it would be this close," he told the BBC.

"I think it has been an extraordinary campaign and I think Vote Leave has done incredibly well to narrow the gap and reduce the lead, perhaps not quite enough, but perhaps they have done enough."

PA's election results team reports the second turnout figure of the night - 68.5% in the Orkney Islands, with 11,402 people voting.

Newcastle is also just in at 67.67% - 129,072 voters.

But remember, these turnout figures come through well before any final results.

Meanwhile, our first election video of the night has just run to reflect the start of the count. Video subscribers can see it on the portal at

The count at the Parkview Centre in Bristol has been suspended after the fire alarm went off.

Arriving at the Leave.EU party in central London, Mr Farage was asked if he was confident.

He replied that he was "always confident".

Asked about whether he was conceding defeat, he said: "There's a bit of a difference here between who's winning this battle and who's winning the war."

The first result is in, with Gibraltar declaring a predictable landslide for Remain at 96% of the vote.

Remain - 19,322 votes (96%). Leave 823 (4%).

PA's City Editor Ravender Sembhy has just filed on business reaction to the polls closing, with Remain apparently ahead.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said: "As the final poll from YouGov hit the wires sterling pushed back higher again towards the 1.50 level. With Nigel Farage also admitting that Remain may have edged it, it would appear that the fat lady is in the act of clearing her throat and readying herself to sing."

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 told the Press Association: "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."

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.

The count at the Parkview Centre in Bristol has resumed after people went back inside following an evacuation due to a fire alarm.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was in defiant mood as he arrived at the Brexit party in London.

Mr Farage said his sense was that the extra two million voters who were allowed to register late would possibly clinch the result for Remain.

"Either way, whether I am right or wrong, if we do stay part of this European Union, it is doomed."

He said the biggest change was not in Britain but the way other countries were starting to doubt the EU.

Mr Farage added: "Win or lose this battle, we will win this war. We will get this country back, we will get our independence back and we will get our borders back."

Here is the state of play in the EU referendum after seven of 382 turnouts declared and one of 382 results declared:

Remain has received 19,322 votes, or 95.9% of the total.

Leave has received 823 votes, or 4.1% of the total.

Based on the turnouts reported so far, the estimated winning post is 15,761,644 votes.

This means Remain would need 15,742,322 more votes to win.

Leave would need 15,760,821 more votes to win.

Note: all figures are snapshots and will change as further turnouts and results are declared. A turnout is declared at each count some time before the final result is announced. Estimated winning posts are for guidance only, should be treated with caution and not reported as fact.

The fire alarm at the Parkview Centre in Bristol was due to a "faulty electrical light", the city's counting officer Nicola Yates said.

Officials at the Royal Horticultural Society in central London say the verification for the number of votes counted and the turnout for the City of London are expected at around midnight.

The declaration of the vote could be made by Westminster Council chief executive Charlie Parker at about 12.30am, making it one of the earliest to return its result.

There are 5,986 voters on the electoral register there.

The City of Westminster, which has 120,524 voters, is expected to see its result at around 2.30am.

A Labour source has told PA's Tom Wilkinson that Sunderland is looking likely to vote to Leave the EU, adding that the vote is expected to be closer in Newcastle.

Find the tweet here:

PA's referendum results team reports 14 turnouts so far. Leaving aside Gibraltar on 84%, the highest so far is 79% in Christchurch in Dorset, with the lowest 63% in Dundee.

The first big result is in Newcastle, where Remain has narrowly won with a vote of 65,404 (50.7%) against Leave on 63,598 (49.3%).

Veteran politician and former London mayoral candidate George Galloway arrived at the Leave.EU party refusing to speculate on the result.

He told the Press Association: "One thing is for sure, British politics will never be the same again after this referendum campaign.

"All of the parties were for Remain. But millions of their supporters were not and that's bound to have some repercussions."

Asked if a bitter campaign would have an impact on the public's faith in British politics, the former Bradford West MP, wearing his trademark fedora, said: "Ever since the Iraq War, the British people have had a profound distrust of the political class and they are quite right about that."

Asked about his political future, Mr Galloway said, "I'm not remotely interested in that," before adding he needed to conduct a television interview.

Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of Ukip, told reporters at Manchester Town Hall that the referendum "could go either way".

When asked about Nigel Farage's sense that the extra two million voters who were allowed to register late would possibly clinch the result for remain Mr Nuttall replied: "Let's leave the incriminations or that sort of debate until later on.

"This is 50/50 - this could go either way. This is not like a general election, there are no exit polls or anything like that.

"We know that people have engaged in this in a way I haven't seen before. This has really caught the imagination of the British public."

Mr Nuttall added: "The EU of 2016 is not going to be the EU of 2026. If there is a remain vote we could be back here within the next decade."

Sunderland has voted Leave by a significant margin.

There were 61% in favour of Brexit (82,394 votes) against 39% for Remain (51,930).

The pound takes a dip after the big win for Leave in Sunderland, and a narrower than expected vote for Remain in Newcastle.

It quickly fell from 1.50 to 1.43 against the US dollar as earlier confidence in the markets took a hit.

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