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Looking back at Brexit night: Surprise results, Nigel Farage predictions and David Cameron resigns




With just days to go until the UK begins life alone, Sean Axtell takes us back to the night of June 23, 2016, when the nation voted to leave the EU.

When the polls closed at 10pm Remain deemed working class Newcastle a stronghold.

But it would be the weather-vane city pointing to the rest of the country’s discontent over keystone issues; immigration and sovereignty.

Union and European Union flags
Union and European Union flags

Early on, Tyneside came in as just 65,405 to 63,598 in favour of staying in the European Union, casting questions over less predictable battlegrounds.

The count sent shockwaves through both the Remain and Leave camps, where even Ukip leader Nigel Farage told reporters: “Remain will edge it”.

Yet as record numbers of voters turned out, Sunderland was the first area to declare in favour of Leave, with a landslide 61 per cent of the vote.

Brexit headlines
Brexit headlines

The northern district of Kirklees soon proved itself a national barometer of unrest as the result swung 55 per cent in favour of Leave.

Through the night, people who hadn’t voted since the days of Margaret Thatcher told journalists they came out “to kick the establishment.”

As the announcements unfolded the pound dramatically slumped to a 31-year low, as panicking investors considered the prospect of a vote in favour of leaving the EU.

In fact the pound would swing wildly throughout the count, its volatility exceeding the financial crisis of 2008, as Leave began to edge it.

The front pages of a selection of British newspapers on the day following the Brexit referendum
The front pages of a selection of British newspapers on the day following the Brexit referendum

But with the race too close to call, London and Scotland, both known to be heavily in favour of staying inside the EU, were expected to swing the vote.

Results from the English capital and Edinburgh drilled those predictions out; the former voted 60 per cent to stay, the latter 74 per cent.

Indeed, Remain dominated Scotland as well as Northern Ireland - the highest share of the vote was in Gibraltar with 96 per cent.

As more results came in from Wales, virtually all in favour of Leave, the concept of Brexit became a reality.

By the time ITV projected Leave to win at 4.30am the turnout had been huge at 72 per cent, more than 30 million had cast their ballot.

Farage, having hours earlier practically conceded defeat, stood before supporters to deliver a controversial victory cry.

Nigel Farage at the bar in the Belle Vue pub in Cliftonville where he kicked off his Brexit campaign. Picture: Alan Langley
Nigel Farage at the bar in the Belle Vue pub in Cliftonville where he kicked off his Brexit campaign. Picture: Alan Langley

He branded Brexit a revolution "without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired".

"We have fought against the multinationals, we have fought against the big merchant banks, we have fought against big politics, we have fought against lies, corruption and deceit,” he said.

"And today honesty, decency and belief in nation, I think now is going to win.

"We will have done it without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired, we'd have done it by damned hard work on the ground."

The Prime Minister David Cameron had appeared at hundreds of events nationwide arguing Brexit would be an act of “economic self-harm”.

Former prime minister David Cameron (Jacob King/PA)
Former prime minister David Cameron (Jacob King/PA)

Standing outside Number 10 the next day, his team shocked Britain voted 52 per cent in favour to leave, announced his resignation.

He said: "I held nothing back and was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU.

“And I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone - not the future of any single politician including myself.

“But the British people have made a different decision to take a different path. As such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.”

Subsequent polls found just over 70 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds who voted in the referendum backed Remain with under 30 per cent backing Leave.

In contrast, only 40 per cent of voters aged 65 and over supported Remain, while 60 per cent placed their cross against Leave.

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