Here’s what we know on Friday, July 22:
—The first major economic indicator since the Brexit vote shows a “dramatic deterioration” in the U.K. economy.
—The U.K. says it will relinquish its upcoming turn to assume the EU’s six-month presidency.
—Britain voted June 23 to leave the EU by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. David Cameron resigned last week because of the result, leading to Theresa May becoming the prime minister.
—We’re live-blogging the major updates, and you can read how it all unfolded below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
8:34 a.m. Friday
Britain’s economy is seeing a “dramatic deterioration” following its decision to leave the EU, according to IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an important economic indicator. The PMI fell to 47.7 in July, the lowest reading since April 2009. A reading below 50 signifies an economic contraction.
“The downturn, whether manifesting itself in order book cancellations, a lack of new orders or the postponement or halting of projects, was most commonly attributed in one way or another to ‘Brexit,’” said Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist.
In response, the pound slid against the U.S. dollar.
This, in theory, is good for exporters because it makes U.K.-made goods cheaper. Indeed, Williamson noted, the “one ray of light was an improvement in manufacturing export growth to the best for two years as the weak pound helped drive overseas sales.”
The flip side of a cheaper currency was also felt: Import prices spiked.
7:55 a.m. Wednesday
British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. It’s May’s first foreign visit since she became prime minister last week. She travels to Paris on Thursday where she’ll meet with Francois Hollande, France’s president. Atop the agenda in both meetings: Brexit.
Here’s more from the Prime Minister’s Office:
She is expected to repeat a point she made in early phone calls with these leaders - that it will take some time to prepare for those negotiations as the UK government consults with the devolved administrations and different industry sectors to determine what our objectives should be for that negotiation.
Separately, May also spoke with Donald Tusk, the European Council president, Downing Street announced Wednesday. Here’s the significant part from their conversation:
In this context, the Prime Minister suggested that the UK should relinquish the rotating Presidency of the Council, currently scheduled for the second half of 2017, noting that we would be prioritising the negotiations to leave the European Union. Donald Tusk welcomed the PM’s swift decision on this issue which would allow the Council to put alternative arrangements in place.
1:19 p.m. Tuesday
The International Monetary Fund says Brexit will hit the global economy, but Britain and Europe will be the most affected.
Meanwhile, in the Labour Party’s leadership race, Angela Eagle withdrew in favor of Owen Jones, who is now the lone candidate to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the party’s leadership.
There will officially be a minister to deal with Brexit—in other words to formulate policies to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU. That minister is David Davis, a champion of civil liberties in the U.K.
Boris Johnson has been named foreign secretary in May’s Cabinet.
Boris Johnson confirmed as foreign secretary— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) July 13, 2016
This is a pretty significant move. Johnson, the London mayor, championed Brexit, and was seen as a leading contender to replace Cameron as prime minister. But Michael Gove, the man who was supposed to support his leadership bid, instead announced he was running for Cameron’s job, prompting Johnson’s withdrawal from the race.
It’s as yet unclear if May will appoint a separate minister to deal with Brexit, or if Johnson will do the job.
Philip Hammond is the new chancellor of the exchequer; George Osborne, who held that position, has resigned from government.
May undoubtedly will draw comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, the last female U.K. prime minister. But besides the fact they are both women and from the Conservative Party, there’s little similar about them, writes Jamie Tarabay in The Atlantic. Here’s an excerpt:
Thatcher, the flinty, pearl-sporting prime minister who led the U.K. from 1979 to 1990, was known domestically for championing financial deregulation and having bitter confrontations with the country’s powerful trade unions. May appears to be less of a free-market hardliner; she has called for “serious social reform” to ease inequality in Britain, and proposed changing monetary policy to help low-income earners be able to afford to buy their own home.
May’s speech in front of Number 10 Downing Street touched upon the broad theme of social justice, which traditionally has been the issue Labour has championed.
Here’s an excerpt:
Because not everybody knows this but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party and that word unionist is very important to me.
It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - but it means something else that is just as important.
It means we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom but between all of our citizens - every one of us - whoever we are and wherever we’re from.
That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others.
If you’re black you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white.
If you’re a white working class boy you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university.
If you’re at a state school you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately.
If you’re a woman you will earn less than a man.
If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.
If you’re young you will find it harder than ever before to own your own home.
But the mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting these injustices.
As pundits on Twitter quipped:
Wow. If Theresa May as PM actually lives up to her speech outside Number 10, Labour is completely fucked. https://t.co/DopA80O8e0— Jeremy Cliffe (@JeremyCliffe) July 13, 2016
Speaking to reporters, and the nation, outside Downing Street, May says she will govern in the same spirit as Cameron. And, she says, she’ll fight “burning injustice” in the country. Her first order of business, though, is likely to be formulate the U.K.’s negotiating position with the EU before the country invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, an action that would trigger exit talks from the bloc.
In case you’re wondering what David Cameron’s been up to since his resignation earlier today, he’s updated his Twitter profile to say “Former Prime Minister and MP for Witney.” And earlier, in an apparent reference to his relationship with Larry the Downing Street Cat, he tweeted:
The cat will remain in Downing Street.
Buckingham Palace has issued a statement on the new prime minister. Here it is, via the BBC’s Peter Hunt:
Buckingham Palace; The Queen received in audience the Right Hon Theresa May MP this evening and requested her to form a new Administration— Peter Hunt (@BBCPeterHunt) July 13, 2016
The Rt Hon Theresa May accepted Her Majesty's offer and Kissed Hands upon her appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.— Peter Hunt (@BBCPeterHunt) July 13, 2016
The queen is the U.K.’s head of state and, as such, is the country’s titular head. The prime minister is the head of government, and, in theory, is formally asked by the head of state to form a new administration.
We wrote earlier this week about May, the U.K.’s longest-serving home secretary in more than a century. You can read that profile here. Here’s an excerpt:
May’s work on restricting immigration to the U.K. is perhaps what she’s best known for. She has said she is committed to reducing net migration to the U.K. to tens of thousands annually. Last year it stood at around 300,000—split evenly between EU and non-EU citizens. As home secretary, she put in place a policy that prevents U.K. citizens who earn less than 18,600 pounds a year (about $24,000) from bringing their non-EU spouses or children to the country (the policy is being challenged in the supreme court); and under her, the Home Office sent vans with a giant sign that read “Go Home or Face Arrest” across the country to get those in the U.K. illegally to leave; about 11 did (the policy has been abandoned). The Guardian points out that one of her main achievements was the deportation of the radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan despite concerns that he would be tortured there.
And, as we noted, at 58, she’s the oldest incoming prime minister since Jim Callaghan in 1976 (he was 64). Like Margaret Thatcher, a fellow Conservative, May is known for her toughness in what is still a male-dominated profession—at least in the upper echelons of politics.
She is the first female British prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.
Theresa May has now arrived at Buckingham Palace for an audience with the queen. After this meeting, she will officially take over as prime minister.
The reason why there are no elections to choose a prime minister is because in Britain, as in other parliamentary democracies, voters choose a party—not a leader. The ruling party, in turn, picks its leader who then assumes the prime ministership. In this case, after Cameron announced he was stepping down as prime minister, May was declared the party’s leader after two rounds of voting by the party’s members and after Andrea Leadsom, her chief rival, withdrew. That elevated May to the prime ministership.
The queen has officially accepted David Cameron’s resignation:
Inbox: Queen Elizabeth accepts David Cameron's resignation pic.twitter.com/HfRtUHVqRw— Michael van Poppel (@mpoppel) July 13, 2016
This paves the way for Theresa May to take over this evening.
Before he left for Buckingham Palace to officially resign to the queen, Cameron spoke to reporters for the last time as prime minister outside Downing Street.
July 13 at 11:17 a.m.
David Cameron will meet the queen this evening and formally resign as Britain’s prime minister, paving the way for Theresa May to take over.
Earlier Wednesday, he attended his last Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, an occasion that was spent mostly in his colleagues—and rivals—paying tributes to Cameron. The prime minister recalled particularly memorable moments from his tenure in Downing Street. Here’s one that came, he said, after he introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage:
I’ll never forget the day at Number 10 when someone who works very close to the front door said to me ‘I’m not that interested in politics, Mr Cameron, but because of something your lot have done, I’m able to marry the person I love this week’. There are many amazing moments in this job, but that was one of my favorites.
And, he concluded: “The last thing I would say is that you can achieve a lot of things in politics. You can get a lot of things done. And that in the end, the public service, the national interest, that is what it is all about. Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it. After all, as I once said, I was the future once.”
It’s unclear what Cameron will do next. His successor, May, will take over a country still grappling with its decision to leave the EU.
Labour’s National Executive Committee has voted to 18-14 to put Jeremy Corbyn on the party’s leadership ballot. Labour’s statement:
The NEC has agreed that as the incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn will go forward onto the ballot without requiring nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the European Parliamentary Labour Party. All other Leadership candidates will require nominations from 20% of the PLP and EPLP.
It was unclear whether Corbyn, the Labour leader, had enough support from his party’s elected lawmakers to get on the ballot, though he does enjoy widespread support among Labour’s base.
Angela Eagle announced her candidacy to run against Corbyn on Monday. Her office was vandalized Tuesday. The party is deeply divided over Corbyn’s leadership with many members predicting that Labour will likely split before the end of the year.
July 12 at 10:38 a.m.
David Cameron chaired his last Cabinet meeting a prime minister on Monday in which his colleagues paid tribute to him. A spokeswoman for Cameron said the meeting was “warm and reflective.” Cameron, who steps down Wednesday, will be succeeded by Theresa May, the home secretary, who won the Conservative Party’s leadership election on Monday.
The tabby cat, from London’s Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, was brought in to Downing Street in 2011 tasked with tackling a rat problem, after a large black rat was seen scuttling past the No 10's front door in the background of a live TV broadcast.
He has stayed there since then.
Perhaps more significant for those Britons who want their country to remain in the EU: a petition for another referendum on EU membership gathered more than 4 million signatures, triggering a parliamentary debate. The House of Commons has said it will debate the petition on September 5. It’s not clear what this means. British officials, including May, have said they intend to carry on with the process of leaving the EU (though Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon has not yet been invoked). It’s also unclear whether the “remain” side will win if a second referendum were to be held. The “leave” side won the June 23 referendum by more than 1 million votes.
If David Cameron is upset at the prospect of leaving 10 Downing Street, he isn’t showing it. The prime minister, who announced Monday that he was stepping down on Wednesday, appeared to be caught on mic humming to himself as he returned to Number 10 after his remarks to the media. Not only that, some British news organizations suggested he was humming the theme from the West Wing. Now, when news seems too good to be true, it often is. But pending a denial by Cameron’s office, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
David Cameron: "Thank you very much........................doo, doo, doo, doo. Right...Good." (The End) pic.twitter.com/Z1zHgSlkLf— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) July 11, 2016
To those asking yes it does sound a little like the end of the West Wing theme: https://t.co/9hLcTPqKfA— Vincent McAviney (@VinnyITV) July 11, 2016
May’s full statement:
Theresa May says she’s “humbled and honored” to be chosen the leader of the Conservative Party, after the party announced she was the new leader “with immediate effect.”
She’s expected to take over as prime minister on Wednesday evening, making her the U.K. first female prime minister since the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. And in remarks that are likely to disappoint those Brits who want the U.K. to remain in the EU, May, who backed the “remain” campaign, said: “Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it.”
David Cameron says he will resign as prime minister on Wednesday. He welcomed Leadsom’s decision to withdraw from the party’s leadership race and congratulated May, whom he said is “more than able to provide the leadership the country is going to need in the years ahead.”
Obviously with these changes we now don’t need to have a prolonged period of transition. And so tomorrow I will chair my last cabinet meeting. On Wednesday I will attend the House of Commons for prime minister’s questions. And then after that I expect to go to the Palace and offer my resignation, so we will have a new prime minister in that building behind me by Wednesday evening.
Cameron became prime minister in 2010. He continued in that position following his party’s victory in parliamentary elections in 2015.
The Labour Party, meanwhile, has been having its own leadership turmoil, and unlike the Tories, it’s nowhere close to being resolved: Angela Eagle said she would challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the party’s leadership.
Corbyn’s leadership of the party is extremely popular among Labour’s base, but highly unpopular among its elected members of Parliament who, after the Brexit vote, easily passed a motion of no-confidence against him. Corbyn, however, has refused to quit, citing his support among the party’s base. There appear to be two main reasons for Corbyn’s unpopularity among his party’s MPs: Many feel he has taken Labour too far to the left; and there has been speculation that despite Corbyn’s public statements about wanting to keep the U.K. in the EU, he secretly supported the “leave” campaign, leading to what many regards as his half-hearted effort during the Brexit campaign.
Announcing her leadership bid, Eagle said:
I would not do this if I did not think I had something to offer to bring our party and our country back together. And I would not do this if I did not think I could be a good prime minister for Britain. These are dark times for Labour. And they are dangerous times for our country.
But as The Telegraph notes, Eagle’s announcement came at around the same time as Leadsom’s, leading to many reporters leaving her event early.
Chris Grayling, Theresa May’s campaign chief, has said the home secretary is “enormously honored” that she’s the likely next leader of her party, and her country. His full statement:
Grayling: Theresa May is “enormously honoured to have been entrusted with this task by so many of her colleagues” https://t.co/RnUoN6hVK9— DailySunday Politics (@daily_politics) July 11, 2016
There are several reasons for Leadsom’s withdrawal from the race, including the ones she cited such as a relative lack of support compared to May. But the beginning of the end was perhaps set in motion over the weekend when The Times ran an interview in which she seemed to suggest that motherhood made her better prepared for the prime ministership than May, who is childless. Here’s an excerpt:
Yes. So really carefully because I don’t know Theresa really well, but I’m sure she will be really sad that she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be 'Andrea’s got children, Theresa hasn’t’– do you know what I mean? Because I think that would be really horrible.
But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country. A tangible stake.
She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.
So it really keeps you focused on what are you really saying because what it means is you don’t want a downturn–but then ‘never mind let’s look to the 10 years hence it will all be fine.’
But my children will be starting their lives in that next 10 years so I have a real stake in the next year.
Those comments were swiftly denounced and criticized. Leadsom herself said her words were taken out of context, and were part of a broader conversation about leadership with the British newspaper—and she apologized to May. But the damage was done. In an interview with The Telegraph, published Monday, she said the abuse she’d received after her comments to the Times were “shattering.”
The Guardian, before Leadsom officially withdrew from the race, laid out the possible next steps:
1 - Theresa May could become prime minister very soon, perhaps even later today.
2 - May could be confirmed as party leader, but with David Cameron staying on for perhaps a few more weeks.
3 - The Conservative party board could decide to allow another candidate to enter. It would almost certainly be Michael Gove, who came third. The board could take the view that members are entitled to a choice between a leave candidate and a remain candidate.
But since that was written, Leadsom has officially conceded and the party has ruled out reopening the leadership race to another candidate—in effect eliminating that third scenario. So, May remains the only candidate on the race to succeed David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party and, consequently, prime minister. This is seen by many as a massive blow to the faction of the party that supported withdrawing from the EU.
July 11 at 7:25
Andrea Leadsom has dropped out of the Conservative Party’s leadership race, paving the way for Theresa May, who topped two rounds of voting, to become Britain’s next prime minister.
May “is ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people,” Leadsom said in her concession speech.
You can watch Leadsom’s speech here:
May had supported the “remain” campaign, but has pledged to carry out the people’s wishes.
July 7 at 11:34 a.m.
Britain’s next prime minister will be a woman. Either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom will become the first woman since Margaret Thatcher in 1979 to assume that post.
May, the home secretary who campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the EU, won the Thursday second round of voting in the Conservative leadership race. Leadsom, the energy minister who supported Brexit, finished second; Michael Gove, the justice secretary who also supported leaving, finished last and was eliminated.
Theresa May, the home secretary who campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the EU, won the first round of voting in the Conservative leadership race. Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister who supported Brexit, finished second, followed by Michael Gove, the justice secretary who also supported leaving. Liam Fox, the former defense secretary, finished last, and was eliminated from the race. Stephen Crabb, who got the second-fewest votes, dropped out and backed May. The BBC adds: “Further voting will narrow the field to two. The eventual outcome, decided by party members, is due on 9 September.”
The winner will replace David Cameron as prime minister.
July 5 at 8:52 a.m.
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, says the U.K. central bank will be unable at this time to counteract the economic instability caused by Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“The U.K. has entered a period of uncertainty and significant economic adjustment,” Carney said at a news conference. “The efforts of the Bank of England will not be able fully and immediately to offset the market and economic volatility that can be expected while this adjustment proceeds.”
But, he said, the Bank of England will help banks infuse another 150 billion pounds (about $196 billion) into the economy in the form of extra lending.
Meanwhile, there are more signs the effects of the vote are adversely affecting the broader U.K. economy. The pound is at its lowest level against the dollar since September 1985: It fell below $1.31 on Tuesday. Separately, two British property funds, Aviva and Standard Life, are refusing to allow their clients to take money out. The Guardian explains why:
Otherwise, they would be forced to sell property assets at firesale prices to fund redemption requests. That would drive down the value of the fund, encouraging more investors to cash out, creating a vicious circle.
Instead, people with money in these funds must now sit and wait.
At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission president, said: “The Brexit heroes of yesterday are now the sad Brexit heroes of today.”
That’s an apparent reference to Nigel Farage, who announced Monday he was stepping down as UKIP’s leader, and Boris Johnson, who last week said he wouldn’t seek the Conservative Party’s leadership. Both men had championed Brexit.
July 1 at 9:21 a.m.
Michael Gove said he was the best person to “lead Britain out of the European Union” because he “argued to get Britain out of the European Union.” But the man who stunned the British political establishment on Thursday and announced his candidacy for the Conservative Party leadership to succeed David Cameron as prime minister in September. His main rival, Theresa May, had campaigned to keep the U.K. in the EU, but has said she will work, if chosen, to leave the bloc. Gove added he was in no hurry to invoke Article 50 to trigger the exit talks. “I have no expectation that Article 50 would be triggered in this calendar year,” he said.
Meanwhile George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, said uncertainty about the U.K.’s economy after last week’s Brexit results had prompted the government to abandon its goal of a budget surplus by 2020. He said the referendum’s result was “likely to lead to a significant negative shock for the British economy.”
Boris Johnson has stunned the British political establishment by announcing he will not seek the leadership of the Conservative Party to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.
“Well, I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me,” he said.
Those in the room, including among the media, were stunned. Here’s a typical reaction:
But the announcement apparently became necessary when Michael Gove, the man who was supposed to back Johnson, threw his hat in the ring—in a move that is widely being described as a political betrayal. Gove, like Johnson, was a keen advocate for the “leave” campaign. He has also previously said, over and over again, that he doesn’t have what it takes to be Britain’s prime minister.
The infighting within the Conservative Party comes as the opposition Labour Party is having its own leadership crisis. Jeremy Corbyn, its leader, overwhelmingly lost a vote of confidence among his fellow Labor MPs this week, but he has refused to resign, citing his support in the party’s grassroots. (Corbyn can seem to do little right this week. At an event Thursday to release a report on anti-Semitism within Labour, he appeared to compare Israel to the Islamic State. His quote: “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel than our Muslim friends are for the self-styled Islamic State.”)
As to how the British media is viewing all this, here’s a concise summary:
The Tory party has proved yet again it has PhD in ruthlessness. Labour hasn't even passed GCSE.— Martin Kettle (@martinkettle) June 30, 2016
June 30 at 8 a.m.
Boris Johnson, the former London mayor widely tipped to replace David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party and, consequently, prime minister, says he will not contest the party’s leadership race. His stunning announcement came after Michael Gove, the justice secretary, who was widely expected to back Johnson’s leadership bid, announced instead that he would run. Theresa May, the home secretary, is the other major candidate. Also in the running are Steven Crabb, Liam Fox, and Andrea Leadsom.
4:16 p.m. ET
President Obama, speaking in Ottawa after a meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, said at a news conference that the U.S. would be the “least of their [the U.K.’s] problems now” as it negotiates its future relationship with the EU. Obama had famously warned that the U.K. would go to the “back of the queue” if it voted to leave the EU. And though he did not repeat those words Wednesday, he said that U.S. was focused on negotiating a trade with the EU and “to suddenly go off on another track will be challenging.”
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has said: “Leaders made it crystal clear that access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms—including freedom of movement. There will be no single market a la carte.”
The remarks came after a meeting of the leaders of 27 EU nations (excluding the U.K.), and he was with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, French President Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all of whom agreed with that sentiment.
Merkel reiterated there would be no discussion with the U.K. until Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon was formally invoked by the British government.
“We wish that that would happen as soon as possible,” she said.
June 29 at 8:17 a.m.
The leadership tumult in the opposition Labour Party provided Prime Minister David Cameron with some respite Wednesday in Parliament.
During Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, Cameron turned to his beleaguered rival Jeremy Corbyn, who lost a vote of confidence Tuesday among his party’s MPs, and said: “I would say, for heaven’s sake, man, go.”
Corbyn has refused to step down, saying he enjoys support from a vast majority of the party’s base (which he does). But there are growing calls from within Labour’s establishment, which has never been fond of him, for Corbyn to go.
Corbyn is expected to face a leadership challenge in the Labour Party. Meanwhile, more candidates are lining up to succeed Cameron as head of the Conservative Party (and assume the prime ministership). At present, Boris Johnson, the “leave” campaigner and former London mayor, is tipped to be the favorite.
Meanwhile in Brussels, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has a day of meetings planned with top EU officials to discuss Scotland’s relationship with the bloc. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to maintain the U.K. ties with the EU.
David Cameron just wrapped up his appearance at a Brussels summit with the other 27 European Union leaders, where he briefed them on the referendum result and the next steps his country would take as it worked through an unprecedented political crisis.
The Guardian has more:
Speaking after the dinner, a pale and tired-looking Cameron expressed regret that this would be his final European Council, and said he and his fellow leaders had discussed their shared values. “Of course it’s a sad night for me, because I didn’t want to be in this position,” he said.
He said he had explained to his counterparts how prominently the issue of freedom of movement had played during the referendum campaign. “I think people recognised the strength of the economic case for staying; but there was a very strong concern about freedom of movement”.
He added that he believed Britain should try to retain the closest possible relationship with the rest of Europe - but “it is impossible to have all the benefits of EU membership without the costs,” something he said “the next British government” would have to think carefully about.
Cameron’s appearance at the summit did not count as the invocation of Article 50, the EU treaty mechanism that formally begins the withdrawal process from the 28-member bloc. That action will be left to future British leaders, Cameron said.
The Labour Party’s internal crisis deepened Tuesday after Jeremy Corbyn, its leader, lost a vote of confidence among party MPs called after last week’s referendum. A total of 172 members cast their ballots to remove him as leader; 40 MPs sided with him.
Shortly after the results became public, Corbyn announced he would not resign.
“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning,” he said in a statement. “Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.”
A veteran of Britain’s hard left who rode a grassroots wave of support to win the party leadership last September, Corbyn came under fire over the weekend for what critics described as a halfhearted effort to keep the U.K. in the European Union. Some of the opposition came from centrist Labour MPs who have resisted his efforts to move the party leftward.
The leadership crisis came to head late Saturday night after Corbyn fired shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn amid reports Benn was organizing a party coup against him after the referendum. A wave of resignations from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet followed on Sunday and Monday.
Labour leadership team source following no confidence vote says "nothing changes" and it's "business as usual".— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) June 28, 2016
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told the Bundestag that there will be no “cherry-picking” during the U.K.’s negotiation with the EU on its exit from the bloc.
“Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges,” she said.
“We will make sure that negotiations will not be carried out as a cherry-picking exercise,” she added. “There must be and will be a noticeable difference between whether a country wants to be a member of the European Union family or not.”
British politicians who championed leaving the EU have since last Thursday’s referendum said they want to remain in the European single market. That would mean the free movement of both goods and people across borders, an arrangement enjoyed at present by Norway, which is not an EU member. But immigration appeared to be one of the main reasons cited for the U.K.’s exit fron the EU, and access to the single market would seem to run counter to that sentiment. Merkel said:
Those for example, who want free access to the single market will in return have to respect European basic rights and freedoms. ... That’s true for Great Britain just as much as for the others.
Speaking on CNN later Tuesday, Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, reiterated those comments.
In Brussels, meanwhile, two British members of the European Parliament received two very different reactions. Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, seemed to luxuriate in his referendum victory and wasn’t shy about telling his European colleagues what he thought of them and their European project. “You have imposed upon” the British and European people “a political union” by stealth, he said. MEPs turned their backs on him; some jeered. You can watch the scenes here:
Alyn Smith, the Scottish National Party MEP, received a very different reaction. He reminded his fellow lawmakers that Scotland had, in fact, voted to remain, and urged them not to “let Scotland down.”
EU leaders say they won’t hold either formal or informal talks with the U.K. on its exit from the bloc until the government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally setting in motion the process to extricate itself from the bloc.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the leaders of France and Italy in Berlin to discuss the U.K. vote. Here’s Merkel at a news conference after their meeting:
We are in agreement that Article 50 of the European treaties is very clear—a member state that wishes to leave the European Union has to notify the European Council. There can't be any further steps until that has happened. Only then will the European Council issue guidelines under which an exit will be negotiated. That means that, and we agree on this point, there will be neither informal nor formal talks on a British exit until the European Council has received the request for an exit from the European Union.
Although they did not specify a time frame, Francois Hollande, the French leader, said at the same news conference: “Our responsibility is not to lose time in dealing with the question of the UK's exit and the new questions for the 27” other members. “There is nothing worse than uncertainty.”
That uncertainty wiped out £40 billion ($52 billion) from the U.K. markets on Monday. The pound also continued its slide, closing at a more than three-decade low against the dollar. The country’s credit rating was also downgraded:
Read our latest Research Update on the United Kingdom here: https://t.co/ZTEkVyxRIW— S&P Global Ratings (@SPGlobalRatings) June 27, 2016
S&P said: “The downgrade … reflects the risks of a marked deterioration of external financing conditions in light of the U.K.’s extremely elevated level of gross external financing requirements. … The negative outlook reflects the risk to economic prospects, fiscal and external performance, and the role of sterling as a reserve currency, as well as risks to the constitutional and economic integrity of the U.K. if there is another referendum on Scottish independence.”
Meanwhile there have been reports of a 57 percent increase in reported hate crimes since the referendum. The Guardian adds:
A spokesperson for the national police chiefs council said these figures should not be read as showing a 57% increase in hate crime, but an increase in reporting through one mechanism. Other hate crimes are reported directly to police forces, or to community groups like Tell Mama and Community Security.
The turmoil in the Labour Party is continuing, as a no-confidence motion against Jeremy Corbyn is planned for Tuesday. But Corbyn is popular among the party’s rank and file and there was a counter-protest Monday against the attempt to oust him.
"Kick out the Tories, red and blue. Stop the anti-Corbyn coup," is the chant that greets me in Westminster. pic.twitter.com/r2CL4xqo0D— Siraj Datoo (@dats) June 27, 2016
June 27 at 7:43 a.m.
The leaders of Germany, France, and Italy will meet Monday in Berlin to discuss Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, said the European Council will only begin looking at an agreement for the U.K. to leave the EU once the British government invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.
“One thing is clear: Before Britain has sent this request, there will be no informal preliminary talks about the modalities of leaving.” he said, adding the German government would understand if “the U.K. government needs a reasonable amount of time to do that.”
But, he added, the uncertainty cannot be allowed to persist. Indeed, financial markets remain volatile, and George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, has tried to calm them:
It is inevitable, after Thursday’s vote, that Britain’s economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in.
In the analysis that the Treasury and other independent organisations produced, three particular challenges were identified – and I want to say how we meet all three.
First, there is the volatility we have seen and are likely to continue to see in financial markets.
Those markets may not have been expecting the referendum result – but the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans for the immediate financial aftermath in the event of this result.
We and the PRA have worked systematically with each major financial institution in recent weeks to make sure they were ready to deal with the consequences of a vote to leave.
Swap lines were arranged in advance so the Bank of England is now able to lend in foreign currency if needed. As part of those plans, the Bank and we agreed that there would be an immediate statement on Friday morning from the Governor, Mark Carney.
As Mark made clear, the Bank of England stands ready to provide £250 billion of funds, through its normal facilities, to continue to support banks and the smooth functioning of markets.
And we discussed our co-ordinated response with other major economies in calls on Friday with the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7.
The Governor and I have been in regular touch with each other over the weekend – and I can say this this morning: we have further well-thought-through contingency plans if they are needed.
In the last 72 hours I have been in contact with fellow European finance ministers, central bank governors, the managing director of the IMF, the US Treasury Secretary and the Speaker of Congress, and the CEOs of some of our major financial institutions so that collectively we keep a close eye on developments.
It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead.
But let me be clear. You should not underestimate our resolve.
We were prepared for the unexpected.
We are equipped for whatever happens.
And, he added: “Only the U.K. can trigger Article 50, and in my judgement we should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangement we are seeking with our European neighbors.”
Those remarks did little to assuage the financial markets, though. All major European markets were down sharply, as was the pound, which slid further against the dollar.
Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who headed the “leave” campaign and who is seen as a possible successor to Prime Minister David Cameron, said in his newspaper column Monday that those who voted to leave should “build bridges” with those who wanted to stay in the EU. The U.K., he wrote in The Telegraph, would always be “part of Europe” and “there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.”
Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s implosion continued Monday with more members of the shadow Cabinet resigning in an attempt to force Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, to step down after the country’s vote to leave the EU. Corbyn had campaigned for Britain to remain, but his critics say his effort was half-hearted.
Maria Eagle, the shadow secretary for culture, media, and sport resigned Monday, as did Angela Eagle, the shadow business secretary, Neil Griffith, the shadow secretary for Wales, Lisa Nandy, the shadow secretary for energy and climate change, and Owen Smith, the work and pensions spokesman.
Here’s a full list of who has left the shadow cabinet—the opposition group that corresponds roughly to the government’s ministers—and those who have been fired.
Could Scotland veto the Brexit vote?
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland—which voted 62 percent in favor of staying in the European Union—raised the possibility in interviews Sunday morning. On Saturday, the Scottish National Party leader, who two years ago pushed for and lost a referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, vowed to hold discussions with the European Union aimed at preserving Scotland’s position within it even as the rest of the United Kingdom withdrew.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, she said that, “from a logical perspective,” the U.K. should be required to seek the consent of Scottish Parliament to move forward with extricating itself from the EU, though she acknowledged, “I suspect the U.K. government will take a very different view on that.” She said that if such “legislative consent” were requested, she would ask parliament to withhold it. (Sturgeons’ SNP is the largest party in Scotland’s Parliament, with 63 of 129 seats.)
The vote, if held, might have more political consequences than legal ones, however, as the Scottish Conservative MP and constitutional law expert Adam Tomkins pointed out via The Guardian:
[The Scottish Parliament in] Holyrood has no power to block Brexit. It is not clear that a legislative consent motion would be triggered by Brexit, but withholding consent is not the same as having the power to block. The Scottish parliament does not hold the legal power to block [the U.K. exiting the EU].
June 26 at 11:03 a.m.
The turmoil within the opposition Labour Party has intensified. Six Labour cabinet members resigned Sunday, following after Hilary Benn, who was fired by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn Saturday after Benn told Corbyn he had lost confidence in Corbyn’s leadership. According to The New York Times, the following people have quit:
Heidi Alexander, who speaks for the party on health issues, stepped down, with others following: Gloria De Piero, youth affairs; Ian Murray, for Scotland and Labour’s only remaining member of Parliament there; Lilian Greenwood, transport; Lucy Powell, education; and Kerry McCarthy, environment.
Greenwood sharply criticized Corbyn in an interview Sunday that was reported in The Guardian:
Lilian Greenwood, who resigned earlier as shadow transport secretary, has just told Sky News that having sat in the shadow cabinet for nine months she is clear that Jeremy Corbyn is not suited to be leader.
She said she would not be standing herself for the leadership. She did not have the skills set for that, she says. Asked who she would like to see leading the party, she said there were a number of suitable candidates.
Corbyn has no plans to buckle, according to a statement from his office to several news organizations. “There will be no resignation of a democratically elected leader with a strong mandate from the membership,” it said.
June 25 at 9:42 p.m.
The turmoil within Britain’s two largest political parties continues to grow after Thursday’s stunning vote.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn sacked Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, late Saturday night amid reports Benn was orchestrating an internal coup against Corbyn’s leadership. Two Labour MPs previously said Friday they are pushing for a vote of no confidence against Corbyn, which could come as early as next week.
Corbyn has faced criticism from within his party and from other Remain campaigners for not working hard enough to prevent a Leave victory, a claim he strongly disputes.
Among the Conservatives, Leave figurehead Boris Johnson is the likely frontrunner to replace David Cameron as party leader and prime minister. Fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove, the British Justice Secretary, backed Johnson Saturday night.
But his road to Downing Street isn’t clear yet. Conservative MPs wary of Johnson’s leadership are reportedly rallying behind Home Secretary Theresa May, who backed Remain but kept a low profile during the campaign. Other top Tories who could seek the post are Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and former Defense Secretary Liam Fox.
Updated on June 25 at 3:34 p.m.
While the world—and certainly its financial markets—are acting as if the sky has fallen on its head, the German Foreign Office provides some perspective on its Twitter feed:
President Obama said he’d spoken to David Cameron and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, about the results of the referendum.
“I do think that yesterday’s vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges raised by globalization, but while the U.K.’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations,” he said. “That will endure.”
You can watch his comments here:
Merkel, speaking in Berlin, said of the results: “There’s no way around it: Today is a watershed for Europe and the European unity process.” She also appealed for patience in Europe, saying its leaders must “calmly and prudently analyze and evaluate the situation.”
Merkel hosts talks Monday with the leaders of France, Italy, and the EC.
Nigel Farage, leader of the anti-EU U.K. Independence Party or UKIP, told Susanna Reid of the morning show Good Morning Britain that a key promise made by the Leave campaign was a mistake.
In its advertisements, the Leave campaign had claimed that the U.K. sent 350 million pounds a week to the European Union, and promised that in the event of an exit the money would come home—specifically to fund the National Health Service. (That figure was an exaggeration). Reid asked Farage whether he could guarantee that outcome now that the vote was over; his response was, “No, I can’t, and I would never have made that claim, and that was one of the mistakes I think that the Leave campaign made.” (Farage campaigned for Brexit but was not part of the official Leave campaign, which he said “ostracized” him.)
Reid followed up incredulously: “That’s why many people have voted. ... You’re saying, after 17 million people have voted for Leave, based—I don’t know how many people voted on the basis of that advert but that was a huge part of the propaganda—you’re now saying that’s a mistake?”
Watch the exchange here:
Stocks in London, which at one point were down 7 percent, somewhat recovered to close down 2.7 percent.
Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister who last night called the result of the Brexit vote “beyond comprehension,” highlights the demographics of the voter preferences. Young voters, particularly 18-24-year-olds, favored remaining in the EU by large margins in a YouGov poll taken before the referendum; older voters tended to feel the opposite. (Though it’s worth noting that YouGov’s final poll before results were announced showed Remain in the lead, which in the end was not to be.) But opinion polls on the actual outcome were in a statistical dead heat before final results were announced; the margins of the age gap in voting preferences are far more convincing. And here’s how Bildt, at any rate, interprets that finding:
This is it: Old England has deprived young Britain of its European future. pic.twitter.com/DnRxkTRKR6— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has also issued a statement on the vote:
It's going to be a long day on Wall Street. The U.S. stock exchanges just opened, and as expected, they're taking a shellacking. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently down over 450 points, while NASDAQ and the S&P 500 have shed between 2 and 3 percent of their value.
President Obama, who had championed Britain’s continued membership in the EU, has weighed in this morning. Here’s his full statement:
The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.
Obama had famously said Britain would go to the “back of the queue” on trade negotiations with the U.S. in case of a Brexit.
Global financial markets are reacting exactly as you’d expect them to this morning: They’re plummeting. Here’s a summary:
Gold, a safe haven at times of instability, has soared to a more than two-year high.
6:40 a.m. ET
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, is saying the possibility of another Scottish referendum on independence from the U.K. is “highly likely.” Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.
“Its a statement of the obvious that a second referendum is on the table,” she told the BBC in an interview.
Pro-independence Scots narrowly lost a referendum on independence in 2014.
6:17 a.m. ET
Boris Johnson, the man who led the “leave” campaign, said: “We cannot turn our backs on Europe, we are part of Europe.” He also described Cameron as one “of the most extraordinary politicians of our age.”
But, he said of the EU: “It was a noble idea for its time, it is no longer right for this country.”
Johnson is widely tipped to succeed Cameron as British prime minister.
Meanwhile, a joint statement from the EU says: “ We regret this decision but respect it.”
We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.
Updated on June 24 at 6:06 a.m.
Prime Minister David Cameron says “fresh leadership” is needed in the U.K., but he will stay in office until October to “steady the ship.” He said a new prime minister would have to negotiate with the EU on what Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc will look like.
The British decision has had ripple effects, as expected, in the financial markets. Here’s a summary, via Bloomberg:
Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has weighed in, as well:
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
Trump had supported Britain’s departure from the EU. Scotland, of course, voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and SNP leaders have said a referendum is on the table to split from the U.K.
June 23 at 11:45 p.m.
The BBC and other British news networks are calling it: the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.
Northern Ireland, where the 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended the Troubles, voted to remain in the EU, but the vote there reflected the historic divisions between Catholics and Protestants. Indeed, Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, and a former senior IRA member, said in March if Britain leaves the EU, Northern Ireland should get its own vote on union with the Republic of Ireland.
As you would expect, the Democratic Unionist Party, which mostly represents Protestants, says Northern Ireland's future is now as "bright as the rest of the U.K."
Former President Clinton had urged British voters to stay in the EU, saying leaving would imperil the Good Friday agreement.
A victory for the leave campaign also raises questions about Scotland's future in the U.K. The Scots, who narrowly voted in 2014 to remain in the U.K., have broadly voted to remain in the EU. Nicola Sturgeon, the head of the Scottish National Party, told the Guardian this week that if the U.K. voted to leave, "there will be things I’ll want to do very quickly to assert our ability to have a direct voice both with the U.K. government and with Europe." The SNP manifesto, she pointed out, says the Scottish Parliament can call for another referendum on independence under such circumstances.
The British pound is cratering right now, dropping to 31-year lows against the U.S. dollar as a departure from the European Union looks increasingly likely. From Bloomberg:
The 8.5 percent plunge on Friday leaves the currency on course for its worst day on record, and compares with the 4.1 percent drop on 1992’s Black Wednesday, when the pound was forced out of Europe’s exchange-rate mechanism—the previous biggest daily drop. The pound’s biggest-ever intraday decline has already been surpassed - with a 9.5 percent drop on Friday beating a 5.9 percent decline on Oct. 24, 2008—when stock markets crashed around the world during the Great Financial Crisis.
With Britain's exit from the EU looking increasingly likely, politicians and political commentators are speculating about the fate of David Cameron. The Conservative prime minister had strongly backed the U.K.'s continued membership in the EU, but the potential loss in the referendum, as well as the dramatic impact that possibility is having on the British currency and stock futures, is prompting speculation of his resignation and/or fresh elections.
I'm in shock. David Cameron's gamble has failed. His career is over. Will the Commons sit on Saturday? Is Boris Johnson really up to it?— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) June 24, 2016
Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, told supporters at the leave campaign's headquarters, "Dare to dream, I think dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom." He added that June 23 will be go down in British history as "our independence day."
He then repeated his optimism on Twitter:
I now dare to dream that the dawn is coming up on an independent United Kingdom.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 24, 2016
Many votes are still waiting to be counted, but the Independent's 3 AM front page for Friday is inching towards acknowledging a leave victory.
The leave campaign is leading in England and Wales while the remain campaign is winning in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Here’s what that looks like.
It’s worth noting that not all the results from the southeast, home to London, are in yet. That area is expected to vote to remain in the EU, though it’s unclear if there will be enough votes to close the gap.
ITV News is now predicting an 80 percent probability of a victory for the leave campaign. Meanwhile, leave has taken a lead nationwide:
The effect of a possible leave victory is roiling the pound, which is down 6 percent.
GBPUSD through 1.40— World First (@World_First) June 24, 2016
GBP is behaving like the jig is up— World First (@World_First) June 24, 2016
Stock futures are showing a similar effect:
*FTSE 100 INDEX FUTURES DROP 4.3%— lemasabachthani (@lemasabachthani) June 24, 2016
The remain camp have suffered a major loss in Sheffield, a city they were expected to win.
This is a huge loss for the remain side, as the city was a bastion of the Labour party.
The Press Association still has the two sides neck and neck, at 3 a.m. GMT (10 p.m. ET):
But the BBC is quoting John Curtice, the polling expert, as saying the leave campaign is the favorite to win.
The remain side was boosted by its performance in Wandsworth, the London borough. It performed much better than expected, winning 75 percent to 25 percent, with a 72 percent turnout.
However tonight ends, the vote is going to be extremely close. That’s possibly why British politicians are making it a point to say they will start listening to the electorate. John Mann, a Labour MP, says the party is “out of touch” on issues like immigration, prompting many of its traditional voters to vote leave. EU membership allows citizens of member states to freely settle and work in any of the bloc’s 28 countries. That can be a boon if you’re a job-seeker, but not so much if you’ve had your wages undercut. Indeed, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, says he doesn’t think Labour has “been listening enough” to its supporters.
If you’re wondering why we’re focusing on Labour voters, it’s because the party’s members are mostly supportive of EU membership. This isn’t true of the ruling Conservatives, who have a large Euro-skeptic bloc—even if David Cameron, the prime minister, has championed the remain side.
The Press Association reports that the remain side now has a slight lead over leave.
It’s important to point out that this is still early in the counting phase. Indeed, the BBC has lower numbers, and has the leave side leading: 1,292,762 votes versus 1,144,509 votes.
The Remain side appears to be performing better than expected in their stronghold London, but is it too late?
Large numbers for Remain in the London boroughs may just give them the edge. Whether it's too late is yet to be seen.— Britain Elects (@britainelects) June 24, 2016
But in Wales, the leave side is performing well. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the remain side is expected to win.
The bettors giveth, and the bettors taketh away. Labrokes now has remain is favored to win. Here are the odds:
The leave side has reached the 1-million vote mark before the remain side, according to the BBC.
Here are the results so far:
John Curtice, the polling expert, estimates to the BBC that 16.8 million votes are needed to win referendum. At this stage, he says, the leave side has a slight edge—though it’s still early days.
Broadly speaking, so far this evening, England is voting to leave the EU while Scotland is voting to remain.
Also, as in any campaign in which a side is doing worse than expected—in this case the “remain” side—the recriminations have begun: The Guardian quotes Chris Bryant, a Labour leader in the House of Commons, as saying of Ed Miliband, the former party leader: “I might go and punch him because he’s a tosspot and he left the party in the state it’s in.”
Both men support the remain side—as does a broad majority of the Labour party.
Kate Hoey, another party member, said Labour risks losing many of their traditional voters because of its pro-EU position. Hoey, who backs leave, told Sky News:
We will find thousands and thousands of Labour supporters abandoning the Labour view on this because we’ve known for a long time, being out there, that Labour supporters, the Labour Party view on this, is out of step with Labour supporters and ex-Labour supporters, who I'm afraid we'll probably find will not come back to us after the way the leadership have fought this campaign of staying in.
The betting markets are often a more accurate predictor of election results. Here’s Betfair’s latest:
Separately, the fall in the British pound is the third-biggest on record, after the great recession of 2008 and 1992, when the currency left the European exchange-rate mechanism.
The Press Association has a useful map of results to look for:
Several results have come in, including from Sunderland, where the leave campaign won by a larger-than-expected margin: 61,745 votes to 51,220. And here are the results from Swindon:
In Newcastle, where the remain campaign was expected to perform well, it won by a much smaller margin than expected: 65,404 votes (50.7 percent) to 63,598 votes (49.3 percent).
The results have caused the British pound to plummet:
But the BBC points out, both the leave and remain sides are performing better than expected in their areas—making the overall results hard to predict. Remember, a simple majority will determine the winner.
Turnout in the City of London was 73.58 percent, the returning officer there said, with 4,405 out of 5,987 eligible voters casting their ballots. The area or about 1 square mile roughly corresponds to the British capital’s financial heart.
There were questions about Prime Minister David Cameron’s future if Britain voted to leave the EU. Cameron, who campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the U.K., had first promised a referendum—a move for which he has since been criticized—and had staked his political reputation on its results. But Boris Johnson, a fellow Conservative, and 84 other MPs, in a letter, urged Cameron to remain prime minister regardless of the results.
The letter was signed by 84 MPs, two-thirds of those who publicly supported the Vote Leave Campaign list attached pic.twitter.com/CvKYCWyZJz— Robert Syms MP (@robertsymsmp) June 23, 2016
Counting is under way across the U.K. after millions of people voted in a referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union.
Polls conducted before Thursday’s vote suggested the outcome was too close to call, but an online poll conducted today by YouGov pointed to a slight edge for those who want the U.K. to remain in the EU.
YouGov on-the-day poll: REMAIN 52, LEAVE 48 pic.twitter.com/TFlAcGcYIR— YouGov (@YouGov) June 23, 2016
Indeed, Nigel Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party, who has championed Britain’s exit from the EU, told the Press Association that his “friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling” say the country has voted to remain.
The first results from Gibraltar, the British overseas territory near Spain, were overwhelmingly in favor of staying.
The result, which is likely to be made final Friday morning local time (overnight in the Eastern time zone), could have far-reaching implications for the EU, the 28-member bloc that is post-war Europe’s most ambitious experiment.
Initial figures from the country’s Electoral Commission said 46.5 million people had registered—a record in Britain for what is only its third referendum ever. Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) and closed at 10 p.m.
For a guide to Brexit, go here.