Britain to Brexit: ‘Leave’ wins despite Gibraltar’s 96% ‘Remain’ vote and expats in Spain begin to panic

brexit14Spanish press headlines this morning read Adios, Reino Unido – ‘goodbye, United Kingdom’ – as the British public voted to leave the European Union yesterday.

Early scrutiny of ballot papers gave ‘Remain’ the edge, causing far-right UKIP leader Nigel Farage to come close to admitting defeat, ‘blaming’ the country’s young adults for voting to stay in the EU.

But as the count continued in the early hours, Brexit edged into the lead and its slim margin, starting off at 50.8% of the votes, has grown – at the time of publication – to 51.8%.

Only Cornwall’s votes were left to count at 08.00hrs this morning, but with ‘Leave’ having netted 1.23 million votes more than ‘Remain’, even if the entire population of the county voted to stay in the EU, it would not change the results.

And by 08.20hrs, it was known that Cornwall had also voted to leave, putting the final results at 17,410,742 to ‘Brexit’ next to 16,141,241 to ‘Bremain’, a difference of 1,269,501.

Every single constituency in Scotland recorded a majority vote in favour of ‘Remain’, with 62% of voters choosing to stay in the EU – the BBC’s UK map, with ‘Leave’ majority constituencies coloured in blue and ‘Remain’ constituencies in yellow, showed Scotland completely shaded in yellow.

Around a third of Northern Ireland was blue, for ‘Leave’, with a ‘Remain’ majority in two out of three constituencies – the ‘Leave’ zones were in the far north of the region – and nearly 56% of Northern Irish Brits voted to remain.

Wales was predicted to vote to stay, but only the central-west coast and some cities in the industrial south did so.

London overwhelmingly voted to Remain, and some areas produced surprising results – Bristol, Norwich, Manchester, Croydon and The Wirral chose to stay, but parts of Surrey and the south coast voted to leave.

Brighton & Hove, southern Devon, and the western home counties as well as scattered parts of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire voted to stay, but other than the city of Norwich, the whole of East Anglia voted ‘Leave’.

Left-wing British tabloid The Mirror predicts imminent political and financial disaster will ensue.

Prime minister David Cameron’s position is now untenable, it says; Sinn Féin leader Declan Kearney says he intends to call a referendum on a ‘united Ireland’, since the British region will now face border controls which could affect daily commuters – and some City of London firms have considered moving to Dublin.

And SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has threatened another Scottish independence referendum, or ‘IndyRef’, as a route back into the US for Britain’s northernmost region.

In Gibraltar, 84% of eligible voters – as opposed to just over 72% of the UK itself – turned out to cast their ballot, and 96% of them voted to remain.

Now they have failed in their mission, many are terrified Spain will impose greater border restrictions or even attempt to regain sovereignty of the Rock, which has been British for over 300 years.

British expats in Spain have already reacted to the tune of, ‘I’m gutted’, and ‘what’s going to happen to our lives now’?

With an estimated half to two-thirds being pensioners or early retirees living off income from the UK, they now face even worse hardship than they did at the start of the financial crisis in 2009.

At 06.30hrs this morning, the pound sterling was worth €1.24 according to exchange rate site Xe.com – down from nearly €1.33 yesterday and over €1.40 late last year – but since the results have been confirmed, it may plummet even further.

Reports from the UK claim the sterling has dropped to levels not seen since 1985, coming in at US$1.35.

Spanish politicians, still in the throes of campaigning for Sunday’s general elections, have yet to comment, but all of them – irrespective of party colours – have publicly stated they are strongly against the UK leaving the EU.

Published Think Spain 25 June 2016

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