“Wyspa” Says Yes to Brexit – as UK Votes to Leave the European Union (but Scotland and Northern Ireland Want to Stay)
The United Kingdom – a political entity comprising England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, known affectionately by Poles who have moved there as “Wyspa” (The Island) – has voted to leave the European Union, all but tearing itself apart in the process.
The first results in the Brexit referendum, from the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar, were unsurprisingly in favour of the European Union. Next, Newcastle declared a narrow win for “Bremain” before the Orkney Islands returned a two-thirds majority saying “yes, we’re Europeans.”
All those results were in within an hour or so of polls closing, at 11pm Polish time. Shortly afterwards, the first “leave” result was registered, from Sunderland ,where 61.3% voted in favour of Britain going it alone.
There followed the first result from Northern Ireland, when Foyle voted overwhelmingly in favour of the EU, with another “stay” result from the Scilly Isles – before Broxbourne in the east of England said “no, we want to leave” (66.3%).
As further results came in, fluctuating between pro and anti EU, currency speculators stepped back from trading as the British pound plummeted, rose, then fell again in response to the votes. Financiers reacted most strongly – and negatively, at news of “Brexit” wins in individual parts of the UK.
Both pro-EU and pro-Brexit campaigners watched as live results came in from around the United Kingdom, with no clear pattern having emerged by 3am Polish time. The EU camp was showing good results, but so were the Brexiters – and predictions as to the final result were becoming increasingly difficult.
At that time, it appeared that England and Wales wanted to leave the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to stay. The value of the pound and shares in companies listed on the UK stockmarket dropped sharply in response to every “leave” result.
But, whatever that might mean for the UK’s internal politics, it was always going to be the number of votes that counted, and by 4am, “stay in the EU” was just in the lead – with 2,877,575 votes to the Brexiters’ 2,876,697. After that, “leave” results grew and grew.
By 4.30am, with the “leave” campaign showing signs of winning in England but losing in Scotland, the UK’s opposition party, Labour, was already assuming the worst and the pound continued to drop in value.
As the results from England’s big cities began to come in, the BBC was reporting a steady increase in “remain” support. By 5am, the “leave” campaign had around 10 million votes, and the “remain” campaign had garnered 9.6 million.
By that time, it was all over in Wales, with 21 constituencies having declared, and 828,907 voting to leave the EU compared to 736,830 wishing to remain.
At 5.30am, it was confirmed that Wales did in fact wish to leave the EU, while Scotland had voted overwhelmingly to stay. Northern Ireland had given a lukewarm “yes” to remaining, but in England the numbers were stacking up in favour of the “leave” camp, and the BBC was predicting a win for the isolationist policy of Nigel Farage, head of the UKIP party.
By 6am, the Brexit campaign was around a million votes ahead of Bremain, with 40 or so constituencies to declare. At the same time, panic was starting to spread in the financial market, and British prime minister was said by his official spin doctor to be considering tendering his resignation.
Minutes later, results declared in Bradford, Breckland, Staffordshire Moorlands, Melton and West Lindsey had tipped the “leave” vote past the 1 million advantage mark.
At just before 7am Polish time, the result became official with the “leave” votes at 16, 835, 512, too far ahead of the “remain” camp’s 15,692,093 for the latter to catch up. Thus Brexit won the day, passing the threshold required to win the referendum, force a UK exit from the EU… and signal the end of the United Kingdom as a political entity.