The Daily Mail Reports:
The day the world changed: Britain WILL leave the EU after voters trigger a political earthquake by backing Brexit - sparking panic in the markets and effectively ending David Cameron's time as PM
- Massive 22-point win for Leave in Sunderland signalled the direction of the battle in dramatic night of results
- Brexit camp also turned the tables in Swansea, where Remain had been expected to romp home by 10 points
- Vote in favour of EU membership was very strong in Scotland and big cities including London
- But experts say impossible for In to triumph after losing Birmingham, Southampton, and much of North of England
- The value of Pound has slumped to a 31-year low against US dollar as markets take fright at looming result
- Ukip leader Nigel Farage has hailed a 'victory for real people' and said it is Britain's 'Independence Day'
- David Cameron will give his response to the result within hours and could declare he will quit
- Brexit supporting MPs have delivered a letter to PM urging him to stay on whatever the outcome
Britain has been hit by a political earthquake after the historic EU referendum delivered clear backing for Brexit - and effectively ended David Cameron's career.
The Leave campaign triumphed after stacking up votes across England and Wales - despite massive support for Remain in Scotland and major cities including London.
The Prime Minister is expected to give his response to the dramatic verdict shortly, with speculation that he will herald the end of his tenure in Downing Street. Ukip leader Nigel Farage has hailed a 'victory for real people' and declared June 23 the country's 'Independence Day'.
The Pound nose-dived to its lowest level against the US dollar for 31 years as traders took fright at the news, and the stock market is likely to be suspended to avoid a crash. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has already raised the prospect of a second independence referendum in Scotland.
The dramatic developments overnight include:
- Sunderland voted by a massive 61 per cent to 39 per cent for Brexit - far higher than expected. In Swansea, where Remain had been forecast to win by 10 percentage points, Leave ended up by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
- Among a slew of poor results, Remain also only won by 51 per cent to 49 per cent in Newcastle, less than many had anticipated.
- Experts now say there is no chance of Remain emerging victorious overall, with the final outcome expected to be 52-48.
- The news sent the Pound plunging against the US dollar, losing around 20 cents to hit its lowest level since 1985.
- The Brexit victory came despite Mr Farage admitted seconds after polls closed that Remain looked to have 'edged' the referendum. Boris Johnson reportedly told a passenger on the Tube that his side had lost the referendum battle.
- Final polls had also predicted a Remain victory by up to 54-46.
- More than 80 Tory Brexit backers have written to David Cameron urging him to stay on in Downing Street whatever the outcome.
The direction of the battle started to become clear with a shock result in Sunderland which saw the Out camp win by 61 per cent to 39 per cent. Analysis before the referendum had suggested Leave could be on track to win if they were more than six percentage points ahead.
A surprise victory for Brexit in Swansea, where the pro-EU side had been expecting to romp home, signposted a disastrous showing for Remain across Wales. Areas like Carmarthenshire decisively turned their back on Brussels.
Newcastle was less clear cut for the pro-EU side than they had hoped, seeing them sneak home by just 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
Remain had some bright spots, with chunky wins in London, Scotland and Oxford. Wandsworth in particular piled in with a massive 77 per cent in favour of staying.
However, the English cities and Scotland were not enough to offset the will of the rest of the country, and Leave passed the finishing post at 6am.
Speaking at a jubilant Leave.EU rally in central London, Mr Farage said June 23 would go down in history as 'our independence day'.
In a remark that could prove controversial after Labour MP Jo Cox was shot dead last week, Mr Farage said the country was separating from the EU 'without a single bullet being fired' .
'Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,' he said.
This, if the predictions now are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people.
'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.
'And today honesty, decency and belief in nation, I think now is going to win.
'And 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.'
Mr Farage praised Ukip donor Arron Banks along with Labour and Tory MPs and those of 'no party' who have taken part in the Leave campaign.
He went on: 'And we'll have done it not just for ourselves, we'll have done it for the whole of Europe.
'I hope this victory brings down this failed project and leads us to a Europe of sovereign nation states, trading together, being friends together, cooperating together, and let's get rid of the flag, the anthem, Brussels, and all that has gone wrong.
'Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.'
Setting the stage for another independence referendum north of the border, Scottish First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 'Scotland has delivered a strong, unequivocal vote to remain in the EU, and I welcome that endorsement of our European status.
'And while the overall result remains to be declared, the vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union.'
The SNP leader added: 'Scotland has contributed significantly to the Remain vote across the UK. That reflects the positive campaign the SNP fought, which highlighted the gains and benefits of our EU membership, and people across Scotland have responded to that positive message.
'We await the final UK-wide result, but Scotland has spoken - and spoken decisively.'
Former first minister Alex Salmond told the BBC: 'Scotland looks like it is going to vote solidly Remain. If there was a Leave vote in England, dragging us out the EU, I'm quite certain Nicola Sturgeon would implement the SNP manifesto.'
Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn told the BBC he did not think the PM was 'going to remain in his job for very long at all'.
'If you are the Prime Minister, you've called this referendum, you've laid your reputation on the line and your arguments, I think it's going to be very hard.'
Former Europe minister and Labour MP Keith Vaz told the BBC the outcome would be a 'catastrophe'. 'Frankly, in a thousand years I would never have believed that the British people would have voted this way,' he said.
'And they have done so and I think that they voted emotionally rather than looking at the facts.
'It'll be catastrophic for our country, for the rest of Europe and indeed the world.'
He added: 'The issues of immigration are extremely important, if you look at the campaign I think that there needed to be a much stronger campaign to stay in.'
Labour's Jonathan Ashworth said the Conservative Party was 'utterly preoccupied with leadership infighting rather than the future of the country', adding: 'This letter cannot unsay what senior Tory politicians have been telling us for weeks - that the British people simply cannot trust David Cameron.'
Lib Dem former Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable said Mr Cameron's authority would be 'completely gone' in the event of a Leave win and he would have to stand down.
He described holding the referendum as a 'very bad call' by the Prime Minister, who failed to understand what happens 'when you just throw the cards in the air'.
But senior Tories rallied round to try to protect the PM. Cabinet minister Chris Grayling - a Brexit backer - said: 'It would be an absolute nonsense if David Cameron felt, having given the country that choice, if they take the decision he couldn't carry on the job. We are completely behind him staying, we want him to stay and that letter is a statement of commitment to his leadership.'
Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb said he did not think the Prime Minister 'could have done any more' and it was 'absolutely essential' that he remains in No 10.
He said: 'There isn't anybody else around the Cabinet table or outside the Cabinet, for that matter, or in any of the other political parties who can give this country the kind of leadership skills and abilities that David Cameron can at this, what is going to be very challenging weeks and months for the country.'
He added: 'I just think there is a disconnect with the white working class. We didn't get our core messages across to them.
'When we tried to explain to them just how important the European Single Market was to their jobs, their livelihoods, we didn't quite land those messages successfully.
'And I think that is one of the themes that is emerging this evening is that old industrial white working class areas clearly haven't bought the message that we have tried hard to communicate.
'In those areas which are strongly perhaps white working class there will be a strong vote for Out and that's something as a Government we need to respond to.
'Clearly, I think one of the features of this referendum are some of those social divisions and clearly as a Government, as a political class, all parties, we need to show that we're responding to that.'
Pro-Brexit former defence secretary Liam Fox called for a 'period of calm' and urged the Government not to invoke article 50 straight away while insisting Mr Cameron must stay on as PM.
Dr Fox told BBC News: 'A lot of things were said in advance of this referendum that we might want to think about again and that (invoking article 50) is one of them.
'I think that it doesn't make any sense to trigger article 50 without having a period of reflection first, for the Cabinet to determine exactly what it is that we're going to be seeking and in what timescale.
'And then you have to also consider what is happening with the French elections and the German elections next year and the implications that that might have for them.
'So a period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are.'
Business Minister Anna Soubry said: 'I will respect the result. It's a dreadful decision. We have to make the best of it.'
Former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles said: 'Very sad at the decision #EUref , but that is how democracy works, so we better get on with it.'
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he believed around two-thirds of Labour voters backed Remain.
'A lot of Conservative voters have gone for out. There's a solid base on the Tory party for out that have gone against their own Prime Minister,' he told Sky News.
'Within the Labour vote I think it looks as though two-thirds one-third split, might be less than that, we'll see.'
Ex Labour leader Ed Miliband said a Remain majority would be 'a vote for staying in the EU, but not a vote for the status quo in this country'.
'Whatever happens, the country will need to come together, there will need to be healing,' he said.
'It's a nation divided and the PM will have a big responsibility - particularly if it's a Remain win - to show he understands what people are saying on the Leave side of the argument.
'Labour faces that responsibility too. As far as Labour voters are concerned, there are two issues. There is obviously immigration, but beneath that there is a whole set of issues about people's lives and the fact that they don't feel politics is listening to them.'
Ukip MEP Diane James said the large win for Leave in Sunderland could be down to anger over the local Nissan car plant writing to employees to make clear the company would prefer Britain to stay in the EU.
She told BBC News: 'Nissan, I believe, was one of those companies that was effectively asked by the Prime Minister to write a letter to the employees and I think what you're seeing here is the reaction to that, which I understand has been quite widespread across the country where people have actually taken offence at being directed to do something and then seemingly that whole message has been undermined in the later stage.'
The turnout in parts of Scotland were lower than the rest of the country, with Glasgow at 56.3%. In Glasgow 253,000 ballot papers were verified out of a total electorate of 449,806.
Moments after the polls closed at 10pm last night Mr Farage appeared to concede defeat.
'It's been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and it looks like Remain will edge it,' he said.
'Ukip and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future.'
But speaking at a Leave.EU referendum night party later as results started to flow in, Mr Farage stressed he was not ruling out a Leave victory and 'hoped and prayed' his sense defeat was wrong.
'The Eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle. And it will now not be put back,' he said.
Highlighting the government's controversial decision to extend voter registration deadline by two days to make up for the website going down for just a couple of hours, Mr Farage said: 'My sense of this is the government's registration scheme, getting two million voters on in the 48 hour extension maybe what tips the balance. I hope I'm wrong. I hope I am made a fool of.
'But either way, whether I am right or wrong, if we do stay part of this union it is doomed, it is finished anyway.
'If we fail tonight, it will not be us that kicks out the first brick from the wall but somebody else.'
He added: 'We are running them close, they have been scared, they have behaved pretty appallingly.
'Win or lose this battle tonight, we will win this war, we will get our country back, we will get our independence back and we will get our borders back.'
Early in the night Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was among senior Remain figures who voiced confidence they were on track for victory.
She told BBC News: 'Obviously we've got a long night ahead of us. We are confident and hopeful that there will be a victory for the Remain campaign but we'll obviously have to see.'
If there is a Remain victory the Government will go on seeking reform in the EU, she added.
'I think if there's been a clear win then that's sending a message,' Mrs Morgan said.
'One of the things obviously is going to be implementing the reform deal the Prime Minister secured back in February.'
Labour's Chuka Umunna said he still believed the outcome would be 'close'. 'If I was forced to call it I am reasonably confident that Remain gets a result.'
Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, another supporter of Brexit, said her instinct was that Remain would win the vote.
But high-profile Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith cast doubt on Mr Farage's suggestion that Remain is set for victory.
'I never quite follow what Nigel Farage says,' the former work and pensions secretary told the BBC. 'Quite often he says two different things at the same time.
'I genuinely do not have a sense of how this has gone.'
A Vote Leave source stressed that no-one could know the results yet, and suggested Mr Farage had been 'unhelpful' throughout the campaign.
Lord Ashdown said the result was 'too close to call' and insisted he had learnt not to make predictions following his promise at the general election to eat his hat after declaring the exit polls were wrong.
He said: 'Once bittten, twice shy. I suspect eat my hat has gone down into the political lexicon against my name forever.
'I don't think anybody can make a prediction, this is far too close. We are in the margin of error.'
The Liberal Democrat former leader added: 'I think there has been a bit too much hyperbole. I'm not sure the political class has covered itself in glory in this and I suspect we have an electorate that is more confused than it needs to be.'
Brendan Chilton, general secretary of Labour Leave, said: 'Nigel may have said that but until the votes are counted we don't really know what's happened.
'It's a bit concerning if that is the case. I obviously hope we have won.'
Mr Chilton said his gut feeling at 10pm was that Leave would 'win, just'. He added: 'Even if we don't win, if it's close, that is a magnificent achievement.'
Conservative former justice minister Damian Green said the result should 'settle it for a generation'.
'A win is a win so it should put an end to it,' he added.
In Gibraltar, which is taking part in the referendum as a British overseas territory within the EU, turnout was a healthy 84 per cent.
But torrential rain and flooding in the South East caused transport disruption which may have prevented some voters from reaching the ballot box in time.
Some polling stations were forced to close, and two in Kingston-upon-Thames had to be relocated after becoming inundated.
As the polls closed, more than 80 Brexit rebels in David Cameron's Tory party sent a letter to Downing Street urging him to stay on as PM.
With Mr Cameron's Remain campaign appearing on course for victory in the referendum, the group led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove reached out an olive branch.
The intention of the letter - made public as soon as polls closed in the referendum - is to begin the process of healing wounds in the Tory Party.
Some 84 Tories signed the letter to tell Mr Cameron: 'We believe whatever the British people decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our policies.'
As well as Mr Johnson and Mr Gove, the signatories included Cabinet-level Brexit backers Chris Grayling and John Whittingdale, but not Iain Duncan Smith, who quit as work and pensions secretary shortly before the referendum.
Tory MP Robert Syms said that two-thirds of Conservative MPs who broke with the PM to back Leave had signed the letter, but said it had not been possible to reach all of them to ask them to sign.
Mr Duncan Smith said he was not asked to sign the letter but insisted Mr Cameron should stay on as PM.
Mr Duncan Smith told BBC News: 'Actually I wasn't asked to sign the letter but I've been very public all along to say that I think he has a duty to stay.
'I'm not in government any longer so I assume that's why I wasn't asked - I'm just a backbencher.'
Mr Farage's early pessimism about the prospects for Brexit triggered a rise in the value of Sterling by almost a cent against the dollar as the markets breathed a sigh of relief.
Boris Johnson hijacked his own daughter's graduation earlier today by unveiling a Brexit banner with just hours to go until polls close in the historic EU referendum.
As his 22-year-old daughter Lara was enjoying her big day at St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland, the leading Vote Leave campaigner waved a poster with the words: 'Last chance to vote'.
But one student defied the ex-London Mayor by marching up to collect her degree with a Remain poster of her own as voters went to the polls across the country.
Mr Johnson performed the stunt as he sat in the balcony of the Younger Hall alongside his wife Marina Wheeler QC, revealing the poster to the packed audience and causing mayhem as students then unveiled their own 'Remain' messages to the crowds.
Lara Johnson was awarded a degree in Latin and Comparative Literature from the Scottish university. Her dad flew up to Scotland for the occasion, posing for selfies with excited students after four months of hard-fought campaigning to persuade voters to back Britain leaving the EU.
Ali West said she could not pass up the opportunity to make the Remain case to Mr Johnson, insisting: 'Boris Johnson was in the audience at my graduation today, so naturally I had some thoughts.'
Speaking this evening, the Leave champion said: 'From what I have heard and all the information is that turnout is good in areas where we need it to be.'
A witness to Mr Johnson's final stunt of the referendum campaign at St Andrews today told the Daily Record: 'It was all done very much tongue in cheek. Both posters got a huge cheer and round of applause.
'Boris wasn't telling people who to vote for, just for them to get out there and make the effort.'
His controversial stunt came on a historic day in British politics as millions of Britons defied the wet weather to queue in torrential rain and even wade through deep water to vote in the EU referendum.
Several polling stations were closed in London because of floods as Britain was finally having its say on whether to stay in the EU or cut our ties with Brussels after a gruelling 10-week campaign.
Thundery showers caused chaos across London and the south of England overnight and could potentially push the result towards a Brexit because polling data is clear that Leave voters are less likely to be put off by the bad weather than Remain voters.
Currency analysts expect volatility whichever way the vote goes.
Joe Rundle, of ETX Capital, said: 'Markets have been betting heavily on a Remain vote all day, with the FTSE and sterling rising strongly as polls point to Britons giving Brexit the thumbs down.
'For now markets are pretty calm but these are only forecasts - we're waiting for the first declarations from the first counts to get a clearer picture.'
Sterling continued its recent revival yesterday, after weeks on the slide amid fears over polls showing a strengthening Leave vote.
It initially rose by 0.4 per cent to $1.49 today - a 6 per cent rise since this time last week - but gave back some gains to trade at $1.48 towards the end of the day. Against the euro the pound is worth more than €1.30, up from €1.26 a week ago.
Long queues snaked down the road from many polling stations as voters rushed to have their say when the polls opened at 7am.
Mr Cameron voted in Westminster with his wife Samantha yesterday morning with the final EU referendum polls making the contest too close to call.
The EU vote was only the third nationwide referendum ever to take place in the UK. A record 46.5million are registered to vote.
With turnout key to the result, torrential rain storms in Remain stronghold London meant the unseasonally bad weather could deter voters casting their ballots.
David Cameron ignored questions about the weather, saying only 'good morning' to the gathered media from across the world, as he and his wife Samantha cast their votes at Methodist Hall in Westminster.
Jeremy Corbyn arrived in positive mood to cast his vote at Pakeman primary school in his Islington constituency.
Asked if he was feeling confident the Labour leader smiled and said: 'Extremely, it's a very good day.'
On the outcome of the referendum he joked: 'You could either check the wind or check the bookies,' adding, 'the bookies usually get it right'.
Pollsters have been left licking their wounds after following up on their abject failure to predict last year's general election result by calling the referendum wrong.
Last night a flurry of eve-of-referendum polls suggested the result is still too close to call.
A YouGov poll for The Times gave Remain a lead of 51 to 49. FTI Consulting gave Remain the edge by 51.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent once 'don't knows' are taken out.
YouGov chief Peter Kellner has admitted that the failure was 'embarrassing'.
Two further polls by Opinium and TNS showed the reverse, with Leave on 51 per cent and Remain on 49 per cent.
Opinium Research recorded a tiny lead for Brexit in its final survey of 3,000 voters this week as it found 45 per cent backed Leave and 44 per cent backed Remain.
But after taking into account the margin of error in the study, the firm declared it impossible to predict a winner.
A week ago, Opinium had the referendum tied at 44 per cent each while at the start of June the pollster had Remain ahead 43-41.
The poll fits with the mixed found by all of the polling firms in the last week of the race, with some results showing small leads for either side while other showed a tie.
By contrast, betting markets have continued to show Remain as the strong favourite as the race enters its final hours.
Adam Drummond, of Opinium Research said: 'This really is ''too close to call'' territory with undecided voters holding the balance of the vote in their hands.
'Although referendum campaigns normally see a move back to the status quo as we get closer to polling day, this hasn't yet shown up in our polls and the Remain camp will have to hope that it happens in the polling booth itself if Britain is to stay in the European Union.'
In its latest poll, Opinium interviewed 3,011 voters between Monday and Wednesday.