Home / World / Europe

Britons start voting in referendum on continued EU membership

By Chris Peterson in London (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-06-23 14:51 Comments

Britons start voting in referendum on continued EU membership

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave after voting in the EU referendum, at a polling station in central London, Britain June 23, 2016. [Photo by Jiang Shan/chinadaily.com.cn]

Britons started voting in a referendum to decide whether the UK continues its membership of the 28-member European Union, to which it has belonged for 43 years.

Polls opened at 7 am local and will close at 10 pm, with over 12,000 polling stations in schools, libraries and other public buildings being used. Locked voting boxes will be transported to 382 regional counting centres after the poll closes, with each centre declaring individually from about midnight onwards, according to state broadcaster the BBC.

The campaign has been highly acrimonious, with the Remain camp headed by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Vote Leave group headed by former London mayor Boris Johnson, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, and former cabinet minister Chris Grayling; a separate group called Get Britain Out is headed by maverick politician Nigel Farage.

One Remain campaigner, Jo Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two and a Labour member of parliament, was stabbed and shot to death on the street of her constituency in Birstall, West Yorkshire last week.

Police are investigating whether her killer had a political motive.

According to government statistics, a record 46.5 million people have registered to vote, with over 600,000 new electors registering in the weeks running up to today’s vote.

Commentators have been predicting a high turnout of over 70 percent – unlike many other European countries, voting is not mandatory in the UK. The biggest turnout in modern times was 83.9 per cent in 1950, although in recent years the figure has been between 60 and 70 percent.

Analysts say weather conditions can play a major part – last night south east England was hit by severe thunderstorms and torrential rain, with over 300 emergency calls made to the London Fire Brigade last night as residents reported lightning strikes, flooding, and blocked roads.

Strict media rules apply in the period when the polling booths are open, with no campaigning and no speeches or statements by political leaders.

According to the BBC, the first results will emerge just after midnight, with a final result due around 7.00 am on Friday. The official announcement, which is legally binding, will come at 10 a.m in the northern city of Manchester.

To contact the reporter: chris@mail.chinadailyuk.com

Previous Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next Page >>|

Most Popular