Across the pond, the United Kingdom made waves during the night as the country voted to leave the European Union. While the vote is technically not binding, Parliament is expected to follow the result and, as a result, be the first country to exit the European Union in its several decade history.
The Leave result was a bit of an upset, especially as YouGov’s final poll showed a Remain victory, 52% to 48%. Joe Twyman, YouGov’s Head of Political and Social Research, said, “The results are close and it’s too early to call it definitively. But these results, along with the recent trends and historical precedent, suggest a Remain victory is the more likely outcome.” Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, seemingly admitted defeat early on and said, “It’s been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and looks like Remain will edge it.” However, Farage declared victory hours later. Farage tweeted and then said to supporters, “I now dare to dream that the dawn is coming up on an independent United Kingdom.”
The result opened up a can of worms of political reaction as over the course of a few hours, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that a second referendum on Scottish independence is “highly likely,” and the British pound fell against world currencies to 1985 levels. Cameron said that as the United Kingdom moves to exit the European Union, the nation requires “fresh leadership.”
Cameron was an active proponent of remaining, but he is also the reason there was a referendum. The Conservative Party, which Cameron leads, was bitterly divided over the matter of membership in the European Union. Cameron agreed to a referendum on the membership in a bid to please the Eurosceptic wing of his party. Now that has backfired on Cameron.
There was not a gender gap, but there was a significant generation gap. Voters under 45 favored Remain, while voters older favored Leave. This led to complaints from younger voters of having to deal with the complications of a result they did not vote for. According to a survey from Lord Ashcroft, 73% of voters from ages 18 to 24 voted to Remain. At one point on Twitter, “Old White People” was trending in the United Kingdom, along with a flurry of topics not suitable for print.
Already, there are indications of an organized backlash to the referendum. On the Parliament’s website for petitions, a petition for a 2nd referendum boasted over 400,000 signatures and counting as of publication. The petition calls for a second referendum “if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75%… .” The turnout rate was 72% and Leave won, 52% to 48%. The petition was started on June 25 and has seen a dramatic increase in signatures over the last few hours. Since the petition has over 10,000 signatures, the government will respond. Since the petition has over 100,000 signatures, Parliament will consider the topic for debate.
This article has been updated with additional information.