Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
23 June 2016

The EU referendum liveblog: David Cameron resigns as prime minister after Leave clinches victory

The EU referendum results from around the country – live! 

By New Statesman


Hello, and welcome to the New Statesman’s EU referendum blog. Please hit refresh for LIVE updates.

17:28: Oh, and Donald Trump is in Scotland today to open his Turnberry resort in Ayrshire. He has called the Brexit vote a “great victory” against a “global elite” which he, Republican presidential candidate and billionnaire businessman, does not count himself part of.

He also linked the vote to his own chances in the White House:

“I think really people see a big parallel. A lot of people are talking about that. Not only the United States but other countries. People want to take their country back. They want to have independence in a sense.”

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

16:20: The mayor of Calais has announced that she wants to renegotiate the Le Touquet agreement, through which the French agreed to police the part of our border located in Calais. Threats from French officials to this effect throughout the campaign gave rise to warnings that the Calais refugee camp would “come to Dover”, as security at the port and Eurotunnel would be far weaker. Of course, the mayor of Calais alone can’t decide this –  it will be up to the French government.

I wrote about this possibility earlier this week, but thought it was unlikely the French would go through with it: Looks like I was wrong.

16:08: This photo shows 16-18 year olds protesting that they weren’t allowed to vote. Given young people are strongly in favour of Remain, their inclusion could have made a big difference:

15:27: Now we’ve decided to leave, the European bloc wants us out as soon as possible. Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, has confirmed to the Guardian that European lawyers are working on plans to speed up Article 50, the mechanism by which we would leave. He had stern words for us:

“Uncertainty is the opposite of what we need,” Schulz said, adding that it was difficult to accept that “a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party”.

“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom… We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”

15:19: Hasan Chowdhury, our science writer, has looked into how turnout may have effected the result and how it compares to other elections:

“Turnout and results shocked pundits nationally: 62 per cent of Scotland decided to remain despite a turnout of just over 50 per cent, while the only other regions deciding to remain were London and Northern Ireland. They represented three out of the four regions with lowest turnout.”

15:04: Hillary Clinton has released a statement on Twitter:

There’s an implication here that she, like the rest of us, is beginning to worry that this swell of anti-establishment support could translate into a Trump victory in the US.  Especially this bit: “This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House.”

14:52: Corbyn has reportedly cancelled his “Jez We Can” appearance at Glastonbury, which was to take place in the Left Field (of course). He’s got a few other things on.

14:48: …and if you’re simply dejected, Staggers editor Julia Rampen has handpicked seven of the best places for political progressives to emigrate to. Have just learned that a single Irish parent or grandparent is enough to swing you citizenship if you’re lucky, so I am personally feeling positive about a future in rural Donegal.

14:45: If you’re feeling angry, CityMetric editor Jonn Elledge has compiled a list of 18 people to blame for the result. Spoiler: Boris Johnson rates 14/10 on the blame-o-meter.

14:08: Stephen: Morgan Stanley are reportedly moving 2,000 jobs from London to Frankfurt.  More than £350m of tax revenue right there….

13.40: George Osborne breaks his silence. He has just tweeted that he will try to “make it work”. The language of EU referendum fall-out is becoming more and more like a desperate post-breakup message. Back on the single market, eh.

13:10: an update from George: 

Corbyn spokesman tells me: “It’s time for the party to unite and focus on the real issues that affect people from today’s decision and hold the government to account on their exit negotiations.”

12:26: We have a screenshot of the letter of no confidence sent by Ann Coffey and Margaret Hodge:

12:16: A petition calling for a second EU referendum has already hit 100,000 signatures (and reportedly crashed the site with its popularity), on this basis:

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

This means it must be considered for a debate in parliament.

12:07: A letter of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been tabled by Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey. Political editor George Eaton has more:

Corbyn’s opponents are “absolutely convinced” that they have the backing of the 51 MPs/MEPs (20 per cent) needed to endorse a leadership challenger and trigger a contest.

12:00: Boris Johnson has paid tribute to David Cameron and called the decision to leave a “glorious opportunity”. Even a cynic would agree it’s a glorious opportunity for one B. Johnson.

Stephen’s take on the speech and Vote Leave’s future: “Boris Johnson is trying to pretend that nothing bad has happened –  his post-victory speech is an attempt to pivot away from Vote Leave’s outlandish promises”.

11:56: Stephen: Just typed the phrase “elsewhere in the European Union” and then had to delete it. I’m not crying, I just have wet eyes.

11:41: It’s German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s turn to be disappointed. She called the decision a “great regret”: “This is a blow to Europe.”

11:31: SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is speaking live now on BBC1. She says a second referendum for Scottish independence is now on the table. We have a full write-up on Sturgeon’s speech from Stephanie Boland here:

She stressed that, for many, the decision to stay in the EU may have informed their vote in Scotland’s 2014 referendum: “I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to . . . secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market in particular.”

11:20: Barbara taking over from Caroline – here with you for the rest of this depressing day, with occasional input from the distraught Stephen Bush.

Boris is about to make his first post-polls speech (more on that from Stephen Bush shortly), but not before cyclists tried to block his car on his way through London and passerby shouted obscenities not suitable for this liveblog’s family audience.

10:55: Cameron is in an emergency meeting with the Queen.

10:50: My colleague Stephanie Boland has statements from Sinn Fein, which has called for an immediate border poll to assess Northern Ireland’s place in the UK post-Brexit. Declan Kearney, the party’s chairman, said:

The British Government has now forfeited its mandate to represent the north of Ireland.

10:45: We’re beginning to get an idea of the demographic breakdown of the vote. As expected, young people resoundingly chose to Remain:

Meanwhile, higher income areas also tended to vote Remain, as did areas with high levels of residents from outside the UK and those with higher education. We have a more detailed post on demographics here.

10:16: Diane Abbott has defended Jeremy Corbyn’s position during the referendum in a BBC interview: “Jeremy Corbyn’s position was closer to the national mood than any other leader of a major party”. She also wrote a piece in his defence this morning for the Guardian.

09:41: Further updates on the constituency-by-constituency breakdown from my colleague Stephanie Boland:

With 75.6 per cent voting for Leave, on a 77.2 per cent turnout, Boston had the highest “Leave” margin in these isles.

09:14: Mark Carney has attempted to calm the markets (which have plummeted in reaction to the result). He said:

“We are well-prepared for this. Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning, and the Chancellor and I have remained in close contact, including through the night and this morning. To be clear, the Bank of England will not hesitate to take additional measures as required, as markets adjust, and as the UK economy moves forward.”

09:06: Stephen Bush is up and about again, and he’s just sent me the run down of the most pro-Remain and pro-Leave places in the UK:

Most pro-Remain places, in order: Gibraltar, Lambeth, Hackney, Haringey, City of London, Islington, Wandsworth, Camden

Most pro-Leave places: Boston, South Holland, Castle Point, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth, Fenland

08:57: Now that Cameron has announced his departure, speculation will obviously begin about who will replace him. Boris Johnson is going to feature heavily in that discussion.

Last year, Dave Hill wrote a very prescient piece about Boris Johnson, titled “The trouble with Boris Johnson: how bad would it really be if this man became prime minister?”. He wrote:

The Britishness of ‘Boris. picks up where Thatcherism left off while remediating its toxicity. This evangelist for tooth-and-claw, meritocratic free markets woos the electorate with self-parodic poshness, a throwback impression of Dunkirk-esque “muddling through” and an implied invitation to join him on a subversive quest to put a prankster into power. He’s Eton’s answer to the Cockney crooks in the Ealing comedies of the Forties and Fifties.

08:44: Staggers editor Julia Rampen has written about the financial turmoil triggered by this morning’s result:

“House builder companies are among the most badly hit, which suggests investors are nervous about house prices.

Now the pound is at its lowest level against the dollar since 1985, and the Asian markets nosedived.

Financial insiders are already predicting a recession and a market shock that could last for years.”

08:35: More detail of Cameron’s extraordinary statement from our news story now:

“But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path. And, as such, I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction. I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months. But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”

NS political editor George Eaton says that we should expect a general election sooner than 2020:

That suggests the Fixed Term Parliament Act is not long for this world, at least in its current form.

08:23: Caroline taking over from Julia here.

David Cameron has resigned as prime minister. He didn’t set out a precise timetable, but he said that:

“In my view, we should aim to have a new prime minister by Conservative party conference in October.”

He also said that he will be leaving it to the new PM to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of the UK leaving the EU.

07:52: The UK has to get used to being an outsider in European Union decisions from this morning.

Donald Tusk, President of the Council of Europe, has issued a series of tweets.

He says: “On behalf of all 27 leaders: We are determined to keep our unity as 27.” The remaining member states will meet next week.

And, ominously for future trade deals, he adds: “A serious even dramatic momen, especially for the UK.”

Meanwhile UK foreign minister Philip Hammond warns our voice will no longer carry weight with the EU member states. From 6am, it is the voice of the “semi outsider”, he says.

07:31: Now it’s Jeremy Corbyn’s turn in front of the cameras.

He says: “The British people have made their decision. We have to respect that.

“A lot of the message that has come back from this is many communities are fed up with cuts they have had.”

He calls for an alternative to austerity and a migrant impact fund. “We now have to try and protect the working conditions we have in this country.”

And he acknowledges “clearly there are some difficult days ahead” with consequences for jobs.

Corbyn asked whether his pro-immigration stance was a mistake. He tries to wriggle out of it by talking about the undercutting of wages: “The point I was making was that nobody should be exploited.”

But he adds: “We will obviously have to develop an immigration policy which we will apply to Europe as well as the rest of the world.” He notes that the NHS relies on migrant professionals.

07:27: The Bank of England has issued a reassuring if bland statement promising to try to keep monetary stability.

07:26: Farage is now speaking to the BBC. He says once again “It’s a victory for ordinary people” who had “the guts to stand up and do the right thing”.

Says the referendum was won by the old Labour vote. “There is still a massive disconnect between Westminster and real communities.”

He tells the story of a woman in Bolton who grabbed his hand with tears in her eyes and asked why David Cameron didn’t come and see “what they’ve done to my community”.

Predicts Eurosceptic parties in other parts of the EU will now talk about leaving: “THe EU’s failing, the EU’s dying. I hope we’ve knocked the first brick out of the wall.”

“We now need a Brexit Government.”

June 23 should be a national bank holiday called independence day, he adds.

Content from our partners
<strong>What you need to know about private markets </strong>
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

07:22: The official vote is in.

Total votes cast: 33,577,342

Remain:   16,141,241
Leave: 17,410,742

Some ballot papers were spoiled.

07:14: For those who enjoy bitter irony, here’s Nigel Farage telling Susanna Reid it was a mistake for Leave to claim there would be £350million a week extra for the NHS.

07:01: Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is now on the BBC, with some strong words.

He refuses to discuss polls breakdown, saying: ‘I accept the result, but by golly I don’t agree with it.”

He attacked Tory MPs for “cheaply deriding” the EU for a quick headline.

And while he praised former Labour PM Gordon Brown, he accused Jeremy Corbyn of “utter spinelessness” for not getting involved in the campaign: “I think he has let the country down massively.”

Farron dismissed the idea of another Scottish referendum, however, saying: “There’s been enough chaos already.”

06:54: More from George, who has obtained the following lines from the office of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader:

“Jeremy Corbyn has showed that he is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than other politicians. He is now the only politician who can unite a divided country, as he can speak to both sides.”


Our political editor George Eaton has given his take on why Leave won.

“He argues that there was one overwhelming reason: immigration. By exploiting years of hostility from voters of all parties to free movement, it trumped Remain’s warnings of economic chaos.”

06:30: Tory MEP and leading Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan has just been on the BBC, where he has cut a very different tone from Nigel Farage.

While Farage said elatedly “we’ve got our country back”, Hannan said: “We need to remember that two out of the four constituent nations of the UK voted to Remain.”

He also added some reassurance for EU nationals in the UK, claiming that the only change will be that they lose their vote in local elections.

06:04: Fund managers Royal London Asset Management has predicted the UK will fall into recession. Piers Hillier, Chief Investment Officer at Royal London Asset Management, said:

“On the back of this morning’s result we expect the UK will fall into a recession. Unfortunately I see unstable market conditions lasting for between three and five years whilst new trade agreements are drawn up.’

“It is our view that the UK Government will be left with no choice but to stimulate the economy through fiscal and monetary means, flooding the system with liquidity if necessary.”

06:02: Labour MP Emily Thornberry brings home the Northern Ireland point on the BBC. Northern Irish voters, who ultimately voted for Remain whatever their background, will now face a land border, she says.

06:00: According to the BBC, the breakdown looks like 52% Leave, 47% Remain. Collect your sweepstake (less valuable) pounds now.

JK Rowling has just tweeted a prediction for a second referendum and the break up of the EU.

05:22: Julia here, live blogging to get through the shock. So who are the winners and losers of the night? Here’s some early guesses:


Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

Farage isn’t an MP, which will hold him back a little, but there’s no doubt this was a big victory for his party, especially if it turns out (as it appears) that immigration was a key concern for voters.

Andrea Leadsom, Tory MP

If there’s one name that Leave campaigners have been gushing about, it’s that of Andrea Leadsom. A far more acceptable face than Farage, Leadsom has positioned herself as Leave’s voice of reason. Her background in the financial services will give her authority as the markets crumble.

Boris Johnson, Tory MP

Many commentators weren’t convinced that BoJo was a true quitter, but he swung his weight behind the campaign and it paid off. Already tipped as the strongest leadership contender when Cameron stood down, Boris is now formidable.

Michael Gove, Tory MP

Along with Leadsom, Gove was a key figure in the mainstream Leave campaign. A talented if controversial figure, Gove will no doubt expect an outlet for his reforming zeal.


David Cameron, PM (for now)

Cameron came out top of the Scottish referendum by the skin of his teeth. Second referendum round, his gamble – always intended as a sop to his rivals in the party – has backfired spectacularly. The question is not if, but when he’ll be gone. A sad end for the man who brought about the first Conservative majority in nearly 20 years.

George Osborne, Chancellor

Osborne went into Remain with full guns blazing, and commanded his Treasury to spell out the economic chaos that most market commentators fully expect to now be unleashed. However, his warnings were ridiculed, and his position is likely to be untenable once the initial economic firefighting is over.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader

Corbyn, a reluctant Remain supporter, never fully put his heart into the pro-EU campaign. While he successfully avoided sharing a platform with Tories – seen as a betrayal by voters during the Scottish referendum – the Leave vote tore into the Labour heartlands, and has already reignited demands for a tougher line on immigration.

Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

We can expect Juncker to strike a tough deal with the absconding UK, not least because his next major headache will be the Eurosceptic movements in other EU member states. There is also a strong Eurosceptic mood in the Netherlands, for example.


Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Sturgeon has already made it clear she thinks Scotland has voted to stay in the EU, and you can expect her to fight for a second referendum in Scotland. But will voters’ Europhile instincts trump referendum fatigue?

Theresa May, Tory MP

Possible leadership contender Theresa May has been awfully quiet during the referendum campaign. She backed Remain, but has previously courted the Tory Right and won the approval of the Daily Mail for her conference speech. With Osborne knocked off-kilter, her main opponent with be the flaxen-haired Boris.

05:15: Lib Dem grandee Paddy Ashdown has a simple comment to make. “God help our country.”

04:56: Again, if you’ve just joined, and you’re a Remainder – all is lost. Leave campaigners won’t be reading this because they’re still enjoying the party. There are however many big questions left to answer:

What happens to Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Scotland has overwhelmingly voted for Remain, and the SNP has already said it would consider another referendum. First minister Nicola Sturgeon says: “The vote makes clear that the Scottish people see their future as part of the European Union.”

Northern Ireland is even more tricky. In general, the vote was split on sectarian lines, as Stephanie Boland reported yesterday. Now the whole peace process could be at stake.

(When) will David Cameron resign?

Before the result was clear, a significant chunk of Tory MPs signed a letter calling for the PM to remain in place, at least for the meantime. But with his Remain campaign in tatters, it’s hard to see him clinging on for long.

How will Labour change its tone on immigration?

Labour MPs commenting on the result have already conceded that voters’ concerns about immigration have not been addressed. Former leadership contender Liz Kendall has already tweeted tellingly that this is no wake up call and “some of us have been ‘awake’ for a little while”.

What happens when the markets open?

We already know that the Asian markets have plunged, and the pound is in freefall, but the FTSE100 – the UK’s leading stock market index – opens at 8am. The markets have been completely caught out by this. It’s not going to be pretty.

04:54: Labour MP Keith Vaz looks like he’s about to cry. “In a million years, I never would have thought the British public would vote this way.”

04:51: Labour MP and one-time leadership contender Chuka Umunna is on the BBC, pointing out that half the UK will still have voted for Remain. The big challenge is how to bring this fragmented country together. Adds that it’s a “wake up call” for the EU.

Keith Vaz on next. He looks absolutely devastated. “It’s a terrible day for Britain and it’s a terrible day for Europe.” Think you’re channeling half the country’s emotions there, Keith.

04:47: On Twitter, it’s been pointed out that Nigel Farage is actually an MEP and gets paid in euros. No wonder he’s so sanguine about the tumbling pound…

04:43: Statement from Another Europe Is Possible, a pro-Remain left-wing campaign group:

It says it worked “tirelessly” over the past few months to forge a movement that could progress an alternative vision for Europe.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union opens a world of uncertainty that campaigners in the UK must now try to steer in a positive direction, in spite of the divisions that have been stirred. We don’t pretend that this will be easy.

The campaigners criticise the “demonisation” of some of the poorest people in Europe by the Leave campaign. They say they will “not stop working towards forging a better Europe” and conclude:

We will not give up in our attempts to build a very different sort of world based on equality, democracy and humanity. In this new Britain, we believe our movement is even more important. In coming weeks we will revisit our work and propose new priorities with those who have worked so tirelessly in the past few months, pounding the pavement across the UK to make our voices heard. We hope some of those who campaigned for a left-wing exit will also join us in this work.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. In the months ahead we will try to ensure that we lay the foundations for a better country. We must prove to the world that Britain will not become a byword for intolerance, insularity and despair. Another Europe is possible. Another Britain is necessary.

04:37: David Dimbleby says: “The British people have spoken and the answer is: ‘We’re out'”.

If you’ve just woken up, and you’re deciding whether to ever get out of bed again, here’s what you need to know:

1. Leave is on course for victory, and privately Remain campaigners are planning their statements acknowledging defeat. We’re expecting them any moment.
2. There was a geographic split, with Scotland and London opting for Remain while much of the country chose to Leave
3. Markets in Asia have tumbled overnight and the pound has plummeted to levels not seen in a generation
4. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has described 24 June as “independence day” and a victory for “decent people”

04:27: We’re hearing that the Remain campaign are about to call it for Brexit. We’ve already had one statement from a pro-Remain group, which has since been retracted, but we understand that privately campaigners are gloomy. Watch this space…

04:12: More results in. True blue constituency Tunbridge Wells has opted for 54.9% Remain – another illustration that the Eurosceptic culture divide crosses traditional party lines.

04:07: Tory MP Justine Greening says it was right to have a referendum as this was a hotly debated topic for many years. Actually, as late as 2014, just 11% of voters thought the EU was the top issue, according to Ipsos Mori. The economy, health, education and – crucially – immigration were all deemed more important.

04:04: Farage says 24 July is independence day. Or drink-yourself-to-death day, depending on your point of view.

04:03: Farage says this will have been achieved without “one single bullet being fired”. I’m not quite sure what he’s suggesting here.

04:02: Nigel Farage says “the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.” Going to make that my alarm clock when I never want to get up. Apparently it’s a victory for decent people against the multinationals and banks.

03:55: More results in. Manchester voted Remain by 60.4% to 39.6%, and my Twitter feed is full of Mancunians boasting that at least their city delivered. George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse didn’t let him down (although will we ever hear that slogan again?). Other results don’t look so good for Remain. Poole is 58.2% Leave, Copeland 62% Leave and Bedford 51.8% Leave.

03:51: Julia here. Project Fear might be behind in the polls, but they can take small consolation in the fact the markets are proving them right.

While we won’t know what the FTSE100 does for sure until markets open at 8am, the Asian markets are open – and have plunged.

Japan’s Nikkei index had dived 0.71%, to 16,122.91, and China’s Hang Seng dived 1.16%.

Woori Korindo, a securities firm from Korea, tweeted: “Leave 50.1! Asian markets subdued… It’s gonna be volatile until we get official result”.

03:49: Stephen signing off. Julia Rampen will be taking you through the ramifications. See y’all for the next time the electorate takes a cudgel to my hopes.

03:46: Sorry about the periods of silence. I have nothing to say, except profanities.

03:30: I’m gonna have some more of ITV’s wine.

03:25: Sheffield votes to Leave. Brexit has won.

03:20: Conversation is turning, inevitably, to the question of whether or not I am ever gonna actually be on ITV and not just in their Green Room. And also to whether or not we’ll have a new PM and a ne election. Seems a very small question, TBH.

03:19:  Trying to work out if it will make me feel better if I start passive-aggressively retweeting people who told me we’d stay in the EU.

03:15: My brother-from-another-mother, Conor Pope over at LabourList, is hearing that Remain will get just 62 per cent out of the vote in London. Chris Hanretty has updated his forecasting model to a zero per cent chance of a Remain vote.

03:00: Liverpool votes Remain by huuuge margin. Being pro-EU: a more reliable symbol of city status than a cathedral.

02:52: The unnoticed story – as so often in British politicis – is Wales, going for Brexit by a bigger margin that we’d expect. Remain is narrowly ahead but it is running out of strongholds. All signs points to Leave.

02:44:  More bad news. Remain only narrowly ahead in Moray. The chances of Scotland keeping the rest of the United Kingdom in Europe look low. Turnout in Hackney, one of Remain’s strongest areas, is just 65 per cent.

02:35: Earlier today,, I said that I had four questions I wished I knew the answer to. Now I have a fifth: I have never even visited Surrey, I think. I wish I knew how they were gonna come down on – it’s safe to say that we can’t trust the polls. Their voters are the last hope of Britain’s pro-Europeans.

02:32:  Wandsworth has gone for Remain by a much bigger margin than expected. It could yet be that London saves the day. But it isn’t likely.

02:30: One day, I’m gonna predict something, and everyone’s gonna laugh, and it’s gonna come true and it’s gonna be “Corbyn to cure cancer”, “aliens to arrive with solution to climate change and world peace”, right? Right?

02:25: I still haven’t been on telly yet. Not the worst thing that’s happened tonight. But close.

02:19: Stephen: Not much to report. Lots of places voting Leave. I have yet to leave the ITV green room. The only Tories NS readers like are wandering round like their puppies have been put down. Labour people look like their puppy has been put down after chewing their legs off.

02.12 Helen: I’m going to sit in a darkened room. It looks as though Stephen’s January prediction of unexpected Brexit might be coming true. If that’s the case, then expect a LOT more “banging on about Europe” for the foreseeable future.

02.09 It’s Bellwethergeddon. Bury has 71% turnout and a solid Leave lead.

There are now open mutterings about it being time to call it for Leave, particularly as the betting markets now have Leave as favourites. It would now take something special for Remain to snatch this back.

02.05 Helen: There have been fewer updates, but that’s only because it’s been a series of better-than-expected performances by Leave – nothing you can really point to and gawp, but a generally miserable picture for Remain. We’re all waiting to see if a big, unexpected bunch of Remain votes turns up somewhere.

01.55 Helen: City of London – the tiniest counting area excepting the Scilly Isles, goes for Remain 75/25. Sadly for EU-lovers, only 4,405 people voted.

01.51 Stephen: Yvette Cooper has been in touch via the Twitter to say she has been campaigning in her constituency all day. For the avoidance of doubt – the cameras being in London are also part of the problem.

01.50 George writes in: Not a good sign that the Remain blame game is beginning already. A Labour source said:

‘Turnout in Scotland has been considerably lower than expected. The SNP, the dominant party which ran huge campaigns for the independence referendum, UK election and Scottish elections, has run a lacklustre campaign with minimal ground activity. “Sturgeon had more to say about criticising the Remain camp than making the positive case for Europe and she was nowhere to be seen until the dying days of the campaign’.

01.48 Stephen: Turnout figures from Haringey and Islington: 70%. London doesn’t look like it’s coming to the rescue.

01.36 Stephen: On ITV just now: Yvette Cooper giving an interview from Westminster. It’s recess. Her constituency is in Yorkshire. It’s voting to leave. Part of the problem.

01.29 Helen: Dundee has also voted Remain, but disappointingly – only 20 points ahead when 29 was the benchmark for a 50/50 result. So far, every local authority in Scotland has voted Remain.

01.24 Helen: South Tyneside, another northern Labour fort, has gone 62% for Leave. The line coming from Labour appears to be “this is voters giving Cameron a kicking”. The alternative spin is “this is Labour-y voters who haven’t been won over to the official Labour position”.

01.22 Stephen: The good news is I’m on course to win £90. The bad news is it’s in sterling.

01.21 Stephen: Turnout is just 72 per cent in pro-Remain Oxford – lower than Eurosceptic Bassetlaw. Meanwhile, both turnout and Remain’s voteshare is lower than we’d expect in Scotland. Am hearing that London has turned out in record numbers but that wouldn’t be enough to give Remain a win on current showing.

01.15 Helen: As Stephen says, that low turnout in an area expected to be heavily Remain is dicey news. There are some relatively high figures coming in from London, but Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru is not sounding all that chipper about the vote in Wales on the BBC right now.

01.14 Stephen: Just 56 per cent turnout in Glasgow. Fuuudge.

01.13 Stephen: But seriously, things not as bleak as they looked when Sunderland declared but Leave are still the favourites at present. It could come down to whether the voters of Surrey are worried about their house prices more than the bend of a banana.

01.11 Stephen: A lot of journalists suggesting a Brexit vote would trigger the end of the Corbyn era. Don’t know what these people are on but can I please have some? Would make this evening more bearable.

01.07 Helen: Watching Ed Miliband at the world’s saddest party saying that Corbyn was a “reluctant Remainer” and trying to spin that as a good thing. Also reading Lindsay Lohan live-tweeting the referendum. John Curtice, king of polls, says that the bad weather and screwed trains in London and the south-east do seem to have affected turnout. (Contrary to conventional wisdom.)

00.59 George is hearing that the Labour whips are moving to calm their jittery MPs, saying there is a “script available” for anyone doing media. They will need it – the grumbling has already started. One senior Labour MP says: “The referendum simply shone a light on how utterly out of touch Corbyn and McDonnell are with so many traditional labour voters outside of London. Jeremy made the biggest issue of concern for traditional Labour voters thinking of voting Leave – ie the impact of freedom of movement – his main reason why Britain should remain. It was a sort of political suicide of genius proportions.”

00.57 Stephen: Swindon a bit better for Remain – what you’d expect if we were looking at a 50/50 split.

00.56 Stephen: Hearing that Remain have won the City of London (electorate 7,000) by 50 points.

00.52 Stephen: Swindon goes for Leave, but am hearing big wins for Remain in Foyle and Lewisham. It’s not over yet….

00.45 Helen: Sass from Liz Kendall. Expect more similar alarm over Labour’s failure to win over its northern working-class voters to its official line.

00.40 Stephen: One unreported subplot of the last three years: the cluelessness of much of the PLP about their own backyards. Didn’t realise Ed Miliband on course for heavy defeat, didn’t realise their activists were for Jeremy Corbyn, didn’t expect Brexit landslides in their constituencies.

00.37 Helen: Laughing through the horror:

00.35 Barbara Speed reports turnout of 73.5% in the City of London. Which to be fair is still only a few thousand people.

00.33 Stephen: Cool heads from one pro-Remain minister: we don’t actually *know* the baselines, we’re just guessing based on polls.

00.26 Stephen: Ukip’s Suzanne Evans just walked past with a glass of prosecco. Who was I in a past life? Someone terrible, clearly.

00.22 Stephen: These results are awful. Just awful. But while Sunderland exactly mirrored the result at the general – in the locals, it didn’t. There’s a straw for you all to clutch.

00.21 Helen: Here’s what the markets think of those first few results.

00.17 Helen: It’s gone unnoticed as a very small area, but Clackmannanshire in Scotland voted Remain 58-42, which is relatively underwhelming. The punditry is now focusing on whether the North-East is a special case, or whether the polls really are total balls again.

00.16 RESULT! Sunderland has 134,400 ballots. Remain: 51,930. Leave: 82,394. Woah. That’s a whopper.

00.15 Helen: And here comes a reminder that the betting markets don’t predict results, they show what people think the results will be. Betters are now piling into Brexit.

00.13 Helen: I have the opposite of a straw.

00.11 Stephen: If you are looking for straws to clutch – it could be that Leave’s unexpected success in Newcastle is drowned out by unexpected defeat in the south. Students could have voted at home. I’m gonna go get another glass of wine.

00.06 Stephen: They say pessimists only get good surprises but this isn’t true. What actually happens is you feel awful for six months, convince yourself it’ll be okay at 10pm and then the electorate breaks your heart.

00.05 Helen: It’s all got a bit crunchy – on that Newcastle result, the pound fell and the mood at the Remain party is a bit more subdued. Orkney has voted Remain, by 63% to 37%.

00.04 Stephen: This is really, really bad. Really, really, really bad. I’m having another red wine.

00.01 RESULT! Newcastle beats Sunderland, and comes in with the narrowest of narrow Remain victories – 50.7%. Turnout 68%. Not great for Remain.

23:58 Helen: Everything is very quiet as everyone has a little freakout.

23:45 Helen: John Curtice says he would expect 60% for Remain in Newcastle if the country ended up 50/50, according to his modelling. Noises coming from there are for a narrow Remain victory only. So really it’s squeaky-bum time for both sides and we will have to wait for more results to start building up a better picture. It’s hard to get out of the mindset of constituencies, and first past the post, but there’s no issue here with “piling up” votes in one place or another. Every one counts equal.

23:44 Stephen: Nigel Farage says the “Eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle” in a speech from a man who sounds like he thinks he’s lost. Jafar died shortly after getting out of the bottle, to be fair. But his concession may be redundant of rumours of a 60% Leave vote in Sunderland are correct.

23:41 Helen: Nigel Farage has arrived at the Leave party and is giving nothing away in terms of unreunconcession. He talks about a long campaign – “25 years for me!” – and about Turkey, Greek bailouts, and the fact the “Eurosceptic genie is out of the battle”. He says that across Europe, in Italy and Denmark, more and more people want to leave the EU. He hopes “my sense of this is wrong” – “and no, I’m not conceding” – and blames the government’s extension of voting registration if Remain wins.

23:40 Stephen: The only way is down. Remain get their small but expected landslide from Gilbraltar. 96 to 4 per cent. Blimey!

23:29 Stephen: 65 per cent turnout in Sunderland! Blimey. If the noises of a blowout in Sunderland are correct that would put us on course for a Leave vote.

23:38 RESULT! Gibraltar declares: 823 people voted to Leave. 19,322 voted Remain. On a uniform vote…

23:35 Stephen: Striking: the complete silence from both campaigns. Suggests it may be very close indeed.

23:34 Stephen: I must admit, were I Cameron, I’d quit tomorrow. If he wins, he’ll never soar so high again and if he loses, why not say “You broke it, you bought it” to Boris?

23:32 There has just been a minute’s silence for Jo Cox at the Remain party and at the count in Yorkshire. The panel on ITV are struggling to discuss the aftermath of her death – clearly Allegra Stratton and Tom Bradby were affected by it. (As we were in the NS office.) Personally, I thought everyone did a pretty good job of walking the line between being true to Cox’s beliefs and not politicising her death in a way that seemed cheap.

23:31 I approve of this way to pass the time until we have any results.

23:28 I’m still channel-hopping, having been promised Andy Coulson on ITV, but I’m regretting not watching the Welsh channel S4C right now.

23:27 Robert Peston has walked off from ITV saying he will be on Facebook Live and anywhere else viewers want “every waking hour”. “We have a chip in him,” says Tom Bradby, cutting to a GoPro shot of the political editor. Everyone titters. He then does one of those tone-handbreak-turns I associate with The One Show to talk about the mood in Yorkshire.

23:24 Helen: Michael Crick of Channel 4 has a pertinent question. “If City of London only has 7,000 voters, all in a square mile, why haven’t they declared yet? I could almost count those on my own by now.” (The City is expected to declare close to 2am.)

23:23 Stephen: Ed Miliband is here! He is looking relaxed and cheery.

23:22 Stephen: A lot of Labour MPs in the north are depressed about their patch – although in terms of the In/Out question that’s in keeping with what we’d expect. Hearing it may be as big as a 40 point lead for Leave in Sunderland.

23:18 George emails with a list of the Leave-supporting MPs who have not signed the letter backing David Cameron’s continued leadership of the Tory party. Some unsurprising names here – Iain Duncan Smith, Nadine Dorries, Tim Loughton, Andrew Bridgen, Adam Afriyie, Peter Bone, Bill Cash – but it is a salutary reminder of how many enemies the prime minister has accumulated over his six years in the job. Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 commitee has not signed. He’s the person who dissident Tory MPs lodge their letters of no confidence with, and if that tally reaches 50, it’s leadership election time.

23:15 The latest on the wildly oscillating Farage. It appears he has unununconceded. Or something.

23:11 Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland minister and Leave supporter, says her sense is that Remain has edged it. Ukip’s Douglas Carswell is having none of it – reminding us of predictions on election night that Thanet South had “gone the other way” (ie voted for his party leader/frenemy Nigel Farage). Meanwhile, Kettering is reporting turnout of 76% – way above the May election.

23:06 Ohhhhhhh, it’s SEX MAD, isn’t it? Well, let’s hope Iain Duncan Smith gets to comment on that.

23:05 “Let’s have a look at the newspaper front pages,” says Dimbleby. “Bit of an old-fashioned thing to do.” He is as baffled as I am by the Sun’s headline: BREX MAD. (What is it a pun on?) “I don’t know why we’re mocking these,” he adds.

23:03 Iain Duncan Smith is talking about how sad it is that people haven’t felt they have anyone to vote for who represented them before. I am being sick in a bucket.

23:01 As promised, a letter from 84 MPs is being circulated, asking David Cameron to stay on whatever the result. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the two leading lights of the Leave campaign, are among them. Is it just me that finds this slightly passive-aggressive? “Oh David, please don’t resign EVEN IF YOUR REPUTATION IS DESTROYED”. Anyway, here’s Robert Syms, the Conservative MP for Poole, tweeting about it.

23:00 “Facts are, in a way, more interesting than speculation,” says David Dimbleby. Then asks Tom Watson what he thinks will happen next in the Tory party.

22:59 BREAKING! Nigel Farage has reconceded. Or ununconceded. Or is possibly just well refreshed.

22:55 Word reaches me that Nigel Farage has “unconceded”. This follows his “unresignation” in May after failing to win a seat in the Commons. I wish he would “unappear” on television occasionally.

22:53 The full YouGov cross-breaks are here, should you enjoy a cheeky PDF of an evening. George says:

“It’s worth looking at the party splits in the YouGov poll. Remain believed they needed two-thirds of Labour voters to win and they’ve got 69 per cent. The Tories have split 57-43 for Brexit, while the Lib Dems are 73-27 for Remain. Perhaps most surprisingly, 7 per cent of Ukip supporters voted *for* the EU.”

22:44 As Stephen wrote in his magazine cover story this week, the referendum has exposed a deeper divide in Britain than left/right – a mixture of class, education, age and expectation. The YouGov NOT AN EXIT POLL confirms what we thought – the story of Euroscepticism is about graduates vs non-graduates, among other things. 66 per cent of those who left school at 16 say they voted Leave, while only 29 per cent of those with degrees say the same.

22:42 Felicity Morse of the i has the roll call of shame of Tory MPs who think it’s time to move on from the referendum, all of whom had that thought at suspiciously at the same time.

22:41 Andrea Leadsom, who has been in several debates for Leave – and is rumoured to be Boris Johnson’s pick for chancellor – is on ITV. She is unsurprisingly refusing to be drawn on Tory leadership candidates, but it’s a useful reminder that the Conservative psychodrama isn’t over, whatever the result.

22:38 Patrick O’Flynn, the UKIP MEP, says that the YouGov result is close enough that a good postal result or some “shy Leavers” could yet tip it. It’s a coded rebuke to party leader Nigel Farage, who was very gloomy minutes after the polls closed.

22:35 Helen: Look, it’s not Hamilton, but you’ll just have to lump it. Here’s Ukip’s Steven Woolfe MEP with a referendum poem. I like his “freeborn men – and women” and the use of “kith and kin”, and “gone is Habeus to the extremist warrant” particularly.

22:30 Helen: When the New York stock exchange closed, the pound was up – another good sign for Remain. Although here comes Paul Waugh to rain on that particular parade:

22:29 I asked on Twitter what the best channel was. My favourite answer: “The English channel.”

22:25 Helen: I’m flicking between channels. It’s hard to resist the charms of John Curtice on the BBC. He just looks like the 1970s. The good 70s, obviously. Over on ITV, though, I find Tom Bradby very reassuring. Smooth without being unctuous. Although if you watch ITV, there is the horrifying possibility of encountering Stephen.

22:23 Helen: Also, Tory MPs have started to tweet about how they have delivered on their manifesto promise to hold a referendum and now it’s time to get on with governing. With which I heartily agree.

22.22 George Eaton, our political editor, zips by to say: “If it’s a narrow Remain (as the polls suggest), expect to hear lots from Leave about the government’s £9.3m leaflet campaign, the Treasury’s apocalyptic warnings and Mark Carney’s intervention. They will seek to frame this as a dishonourable victory.”

22:15 Helen: Mixed signals so far, although leaning slightly towards Remain. We will get the first hard results at around midnight (Sunderland, which always counts fast, is rumoured to be desperate to get everything wrapped up in record time). Gibraltar also comes in early. For a full guide to who is expected to declare when, click here. We hope to have a good idea by 3am, and a declaration by breakfast. In the meantime, do let me know your strategies for getting through the count. I’m on the Swizzels Fun Bag, and already two packs of Love Hearts and a Drumstick down.

22.10 Helen: In the absence of an exit poll, one of the early indicators we’re looking out for is the market – hedge funds have been conducting private polling, on the basis that Brexit will cause sterling to fall. So this from the FT‘s Peter Spiegel is interesting:

Plus: Lewis Iwu bumped into Boris Johnson on the tube home.

22.07 Stephen: I have tried the white wine. Tastes so bad I’d rather get drunk on the wine, be sick and drink that than finish it. 0/10, would not recommend.

22.06 Helen: YouGov’s day of poll-poll (which is DEFINITELY NOT AN EXIT POLL) has Remain to win by 4 points. It was pretty reliable in the Scottish independence referendum, for what it’s worth.

22.04 Helen: Bit of context on Nigel’s early bath – he said that on Sky News, based on a small poll. The Official Leave.EU campaign say its internal poll has Leave on 52 per cent.

22.03 Stephen: Turnout in Gibraltar is 84. Nigel Farage says Remain have won. 

22:01 Stephen: I have come dressed as a scruffier version of my own byline pic. (Helen: tragically you will not be able to see this vision, because I can’t upload the photo Stephen sent, without it showing sideways. Sorry. Just close your eyes and imagine.)


21:55 Stephen: Some of you are asking if the wine is good, so I have tried some. The red has that brackish taste of a free wine, where it tastes unpleasantly like your mouth after a hard night’s drinking.

21:51 Helen: While we wait for the definitely-not-an-exit-poll to arrive at 10pm when the polls close, here are a few photos from around the country today.

Here’s Jeremy Corbyn in his constituency, looking happy (I think?)

And here is Michael Gove with his wife, Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine. He looks happy, which will upset the people on my Facebook wall whose sole reason for voting today was “to make Michael Gove sad”. Maybe later.

And here is the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, in (we think) strongly pro-Remain Scotland, where turnout was reportedly high.

And here is Nigel Farage of Ukip, pouring his curves into a svelte double-breasted suit. (Sorry, I’m having flashbacks.)

21:49 Stephen: Hearing that turnout is very high. Who that helps is complicated depending on where it’s high. Low turnout (under 45) helps Leave. 50-80 per cent helps Remain. 80+ is probably a wash.

21:46 Helen: Not going to lie, my only plan for getting through tonight – less glamorously than Stephen, I am in my living room – is to rewrite all the lyrics of Hamilton to be about British politics. Feel free to join me – I’m @helenlewis – and perhaps this can be as successful* as Morningside Pie.

*definitions of success may vary.

21:41 Stephen here. I have conducted a mini-poll in the green room: ComRes’s Tom Mludzinki thinks we are in. Sunny Hundal has “a bad feeling we are out”. Danny Finkelstein thinks we are in. I am out of my mind with worry.

21:32: Helen here. I will be filling in tonight whenever Stephen is on telly. My only contribution so far is the charming picture of the dog you will see above this post, because Stephen doesn’t “get” dogs and what is polling night for if not winding up your colleagues?

21:23: No, I am not drinking the wine. I am a lightweight. Also I fall asleep while drunk.

21:21: There is wine in the ITV green room! This seems like a brave choice on the part of the producers.

21:19: People asking how I think it’s gone. Having been very pessimistic I am feeling cheerier as there were a lot of queues outside polling stations in my very pro-Remain part of the world.

21:00: Hiya! Stephen Bush here. I’ll be your host until 10pm, when polls will close and Helen Lewis takes over. I am on ITV tonight and will be bringing gossip and the like from the green room.