First EU referendum results in UK suggest tight race

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(BBC) The first results in the UK’s referendum on whether to remain in the European Union are coming in.

Leave won in Sunderland by 22%, while Newcastle voted for Remain by a margin of 1% – tighter than predicted.

A full picture is not expected to emerge for two or three hours as counting continues around the country. Opinion polls were suggesting a Remain win.

Turnout looks set to be higher than at last year’s general election.

Photo credit:  PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP
Photo credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP

Gibraltar was the first to declare a result with 96% of voters in the British overseas territory backing Remain. A big Remain win had been predicted in Gibraltar amid concerns about its border with Spain.

An online survey taken on polling day of 5,000 people by YouGov suggests the Remain side running at 52% of the vote, to Leave’s 48%. Ipsos Mori have released polling from Thursday and Wednesday suggesting Remain will get 54% and Leave 46%.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage told the Press Association the Remain camp had won based on “what I know from some of my friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling”.

In a speech to supporters in London, Mr Farage – whose political career has been built on campaigning to get the UK out of the EU – said his “sense” was that the UK had voted to Remain.

He told the cheering crowd he hoped he was wrong but added: “Win or lose this battle, we will win this war, we will get this country back.”

The referendum result, which should be known by breakfast time on Friday, could be a turning point in the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.

If the UK becomes the first country to exit the EU it will arguably be the biggest blow to the 28-nation European Union since its formation.

A vote to remain would see Britain gain exemption from “ever closer” political union and other concessions secured by Prime Minister David Cameron in a renegotiation of the country’s membership terms.

It should become clear which way the vote has gone by the early hours of Friday morning but if it is as close as the final opinion polls of the campaign suggested, it may take until closer to 07:00 BST (06:00 GMT) for the result.

Many polling stations in the South East of England reported high turnouts despite bad weather, so declarations could be later than previously expected.

Results predicted for between 0200 BST and 0300 BST could be put back an hour or two, it was being suggested, in some parts of the region.

There were also concerns that some commuters stranded in London because of chaos on the railways might not have got home in time to vote.

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