London: Despite torrential rains in London and southeast England, voters headed to polls on Thursday to cast their ballots in a historic referendum on whether Britain should remain in or exit from the European Union (EU).
A man shelters from the rain as he arrives at a polling station in London yesterday. Pic/AFP
Torrential rains swamped the British capital as polling stations opened at 7 am. Flood warnings were issued for parts of London and Essex as parts of the capital were expected to see a month’s rainfall in a matter of hours — voting in the referendum continued till 10 p.m.
An estimated 46,499,537 people — a record number for a British poll — were entitled to take part in the vote. British citizens living abroad have already cast their vote by mail.
Unlike at a general election, when MPs only need to win a majority in their constituency to win the seat, every vote counts in this referendum.
According to the Electoral Commission, the results will come in during a frantic three-hour period on Friday, between 4 a.m and 7 a.m.
The Electoral Commission is forecasting that turnout could be as high as 80 per cent (significantly more than the 66 per cent who voted in last year's General Election).
Britain’s referendum is “too close to call” as a string of polls showed neither ‘ayes’ nor ‘noes’ clearly ahead. Four separate polls released on Thursday gave differing pictures, with two putting the ‘Leave’ campaign ahead and two giving the pro-EU ‘Remain’ side the lead.
Traders, brokers pull an all-nighter
Traders and brokers across London are bracing themselves for an all-night vigil as the counting of votes in the historic referendum begins on Thursday night. Senior staff and traders at banks including Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been asked to stay overnight in the office while others are working in shifts between the British market close on Thursday and its reopening on Friday morning.
Turkey may vote on EU talks: Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested Turkey could hold a referendum over whether to continue its long-stalled accession process to join the European Union. Angrily lashing out at the bloc’s treatment of Ankara, Erdogan said, “We can stand up and ask the people just like the British are doing,” Erdogan said. He accused the EU of not accepting Turkey as a member as it is a “Muslim-majority country”.