Brexit referendum, is only the third nationwide referendum in UK history and comes after a four-month battle for votes between the "Leave" and "Remain" campaigns.
Financial markets and bettors put their money on Britain’s voting to remain a part of the European Union on Thursday in a historic referendum that threatens to undermine the experiment in continental unity launched in the aftermath of World War II. Britain’s bookmakers seemed to be strengthening in their conviction that the UK will not opt out of the EU in the referendum today, even as most of the opinion polls have indicated it to be a too-close-to-call situation.
The betting market Betfair said the probability that the country will stay stands at 86 percent, with a British exit, or Brexit, given just a 14 percent chance. William Hill revised the chances of a “leave” vote down from 25 percent to just under 17 percent.
Brexit referendum, is only the third nationwide referendum in UK history and comes after a four-month battle for votes between the “Leave” and “Remain” campaigns. Brisk voting was reported and members of the public posted photographs of busy polling stations across the country.
Both sides of the campaign have appealed to a record number of registered voters — more than 46 million – including 1.2 million British Indians, for a big turnout. The voting which began at 7 am will continue till 10 pm local time. The Electoral Commission estimates a final result “around breakfast time” on Friday.
As Britain votes, we at FE Online will get you the latest updates from the historic referendum:
3.10 am: Vote count starts in EU referendum; pound soars.
2.40 am: YOUGOV Referendum puts ‘IN’ on 52%, ‘OUT’ on 48 per cent
2.30 am: UKIP leader Nigel Farage says “it looks like ‘Remain’ will edge it”
2.29 am: Polls have closed in the referendum vote for the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union
2.00 am: Turn out 83.65% in Gilbraltar
12:00 am: Oil prices closed 2 percent higher after a volatile session on Thursday, with investors less worried about prospects for the global economy after the last pre-vote opinion polls showed Britain was likely to remain in the European Union.
11:45 pm: Sterling climbed to a 2016 high and global stocks rallied as investors bet Britons were likely to vote to remain in the European Union.
11:30 pm: The pan-European STOXX 600 and FTSEurofirst 300 indexes rose 1.5 and 1.3 percent respectively, both ending at their highest point in about two weeks.
5:25 pm: In contrast, yields on safe-haven German bonds, which have benefited from Brexit jitters, hit three-week highs — pulling further away from last week’s sub-zero record lows.
5:24 pm: As Brexit voting under way, euro zone bond markets swing towards remain
4:43 pm: 55 per cent for remain, 45 per cent for leave: Populus poll on Britain’s EU referendum
4: 21 pm: Odds on betting site ‘Betfair’ show probability of UK voting to remain in EU have risen to 86 per cent.
4:15 pm: Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Thursday he does not expect sharp changes in the rouble rate and oil prices if Britain leaves the European Union.
4:00 pm: 52 per cent for remain, 48 per cent for leave ahead of Britain’s EU referendum (Reuters)
3:50 pm: Most Southeast Asian stocks edged higher as cautious investors kept a keen eye out for Britons voting to decide the future of their country in a referendum on Thursday.
3:30 pm: Sensex surges 236 points to close above 27,000, Nifty settles above 8,250
02:51 pm: Oil prices edged higher on Thursday, shrugging off a smaller than expected draw on U.S. crude stocks as money and equity markets firmed on the last sweep of opinion polls showing Britons favoured to remain in the European Union (EU).
02:41 pm: Sterling hit a 2016 high and world stocks climbed for a fifth day running on Thursday, as British voters headed to the polls for a crucial vote on their European Union membership.
02:19 pm: The Philippine central bank kept its benchmark interest rate steady on Thursday, as expected, and said it was prepared to act to contain any market volatility that might stem from Britain’s vote on whether to exit the European Union.
02: 11 pm: China is paying attention to Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union and while it respects the people’s choice, Beijing hopes to see a strong and stable EU, the Chinese government said on Thursday as Britons headed to the polls.
02:10 pm: Indian shares edged up in thin trade on Thursday as Britons began voting on a referendum on whether Britain should remain a part of the European Union.
02:08 pm: Despite torrential rains in London and south east England, voters headed to polls on Thursday to cast their ballots in a historic referendum on whether Britain should remain in or exit from the European Union (EU).
Torrential rains swamped the British capital as polling stations opened at 7 a.m., BBC reported. Flood warnings were issued for parts of London and Essex as parts of the capital were expected to see a month’s rainfall in a matter of hours — voting in the referendum will continue till 10 p.m.
01:47 pm: A sense of caution as voting kicked off in a tight referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union bolstered safe-haven German bonds on Thursday, as latest polls showed a slight tilt towards those in favour of keeping Britain in the EU.
01:44 pm: Traders and brokers across London are bracing themselves for an all-night vigil as the counting of votes in the historic referendum on whether or not Britain should remain a member of the European Union (EU), begins on Thursday night.
01:40 pm: There was snail-paced trading today in Asian credit markets as participants sat back to await the results of the UK referendum on EU membership. Voting is now under way.
01:39 pm: Hong Kong shares rose for their fifth straight day on Thursday, reflecting growing optimism that Britain will vote to stay in the European Union.
01:37 pm: Shares of companies with exposure to the UK saw mixed trading ahead of the crucial ‘Brexit’ referendum outcome. Tata Motors scrip rose by 1.92 per cent while Tata Steel fell by 1.31 per cent on BSE. Shares of Bharat Forge were up 1.77 per cent and Hindalco gained 1.39 per cent.
01:23 pm: Sterling advanced to a 2016 high against the dollar on Thursday after the last sweep of opinion polls favoured Britain remaining in the European Union, just as voting got underway.
01:05 pm: London copper floated near its highest in more than two weeks on Thursday on a softer dollar, but gains were capped
12:40 pm: European shares rose on Thursday as firmer copper prices lifted mining stocks, while many investors expected Britain to vote to stay in the European Union.
12:39 pm: Gold holds near two-week low as Britain votes on EU decision
12:30 pm: Oil prices were up slightly on Thursday, shrugging off a smaller-than-expected decline in U.S. stockpiles, as the market nervously awaited the result of Britain’s “Brexit” vote.
12:13 pm: Singapore Exchange Ltd said it has raised the amount of cash firms must pledge to cover trading positions due to an expected rise in market volatility linked to Britain’s vote on whether to exit the European Union.
11: 48 am: South Korean shares eased as some investors took profits ahead of the Brexit vote results, which will start trickling out early on Friday morning in Asia. Most opinion polls put the “Leave” and “Remain” camps neck-and-neck.
11.30 am: Polls opened today in a referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union or leave.
Brexit Referendum: The process
An estimated 46,499,537 people are entitled to take part in the vote – a record number for a UK poll. The referendum ballot paper asks the following question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won. The weather forecast for polling day is mixed as a rain-swept nation votes.
After the referendum polls close, sealed ballot boxes will be collected and transported to the count venue for each of the 382 local counting areas, the BBC reported.
These represent all 380 local government areas in England, Scotland and Wales, plus one each for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.
Individual areas’ results will then be declared throughout the night, along with results from 11 regional counts.
Depending on how close the poll is, the result may become clear before the final national result is officially declared by the Chief Counting Officer, who will be based at Manchester Town Hall.
In versus Out
The “In” campaign took aim at their rivals by saying a Brexit would hurt the economy, security and the country’s status. The “Out” campaign said high levels of immigration could not be controlled inside the EU and it was time to bring powers back from Brussels to London.
“If we don’t vote to leave tomorrow we will remain locked in the back of the car, driven in an uncertain direction, frankly, to a place we don’t want to go and perhaps by a driver who doesn’t speak the very best of English,” said Johnson, a leading candidate to replace Cameron as prime minister.
The “Leave” campaign says Britain’s economy would benefit from a Brexit, or British exit from the EU. Cameron says it would cause financial chaos.
Traders, investors and companies are preparing for volatility on financial markets whatever the outcome of a vote that both reflects, and has fuelled, an anti-establishment mood also seen in the United States and elsewhere in Europe.
A low turnout is likely to benefit the “Leave” side, however the general expectation is of a bigger turnout than the 2015 general election which was around 66 per cent.
If Britain chooses to leave, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has suggested Scotland may call a referendum on leaving the United Kingdom.
The “Out” campaign says a fall in the value of the pound would boost exports and has found support among some financial specialists and small businesses. It has urged voters to ignore what it calls the “establishment” which it says has the most to lose from Brexit.
Prime Minister David Cameron criss-crossed the country in a final effort to warn Britain’s voters against rejecting the EU in the historic poll yesterday.
Leading ‘Brexit’ backer Boris Johnson, a former London mayor who is widely touted as a future prime minister, insisted the “Leave” campaign was on the brink of victory.
Immigration to Britain, which has risen significantly in recent years, has been a key issue that has seriously divided the country.