The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union in a historic referendum decision. The Leave campaign edged a victory with 52% of the vote, ahead of Remain on 48%. The results has been reacted to by leaders around, with Marine Le Pen calling it a victory for ‘freedom’.
Before this morning’s result, the United Kingdom had enjoyed 43 years as an European Member. However, pressure before the last general election from the United Kingdom Independence Party led to David Cameron including a referendum on Britain’s continuing membership in his Conservative manifesto. Although Cameron himself backed the Remain campaign, senior Conservatives such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson argued Britain would be better off outside the Union.
The results showed a split in political opinion across the UK, as some areas voted strongly to remain. Scotland, London and Northern Ireland all returned victories for remain, but higher-than-expected Brexit results in England and Wales were enough to carry the vote for the leave camp.
As the counts were announced, the pound sterling’s value slumped and has already reached its lowest value against the dollar since 1985. This has raised some fears about the immediate economic impact of a Brexit on Britain and the rest of Europe, something which the Leave campaign argued would not be an issue. In fact, Boris Johnson said he would publically apologise if Brexit led to a recession.
Big questions will now also be asked about David Cameron and whether or not he is still the man to lead the Conservative Party. Many speculate that Boris Johnson has his sights on the leadership as a result of Brexit, but the Tory MP has signed a letter – with many of his peers – telling Cameron he has their backing and a mandate to continue.