- Pound heads for biggest ever drop, exceeding Black Wednesday
- ‘Leave’ performs better than projected outside London
U.K. referendum results pointed toward a vote to leave the European Union after more than four decades of membership, rocking markets globally and putting a question mark over Prime Minister David Cameron’s future in office.
By 4:15 a.m. in London, 560,000 more votes had been cast for a so-called Brexit than for staying, sending stocks plunging from Tokyo to London and Chicago. The pound plummeted by the most on record to reach its lowest level since 1985.
With more than half the votes counted, a picture emerged of a deeply divided nation, with London and Scotland largely voting “Remain” and the rest of the country mainly in the “Leave” camp. A bitter campaign highlighted how disillusioned the public are with the postwar political order and its failure to deliver more inclusive economic growth.
Addressing supporters in London, U.K. Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage said that June 23 should go down in British history as “our independence day.”
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“The dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” Farage said. “This
will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people.”
A decision to leave the EU would raise questions about whether Cameron can remain prime minister after he argued that remaining in the EU was necessary to safeguard the economy and Britain’s influence on the world stage. It would mark a victory for lawmakers such as former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who contended a Brexit was needed to regain control of borders, budgets and local laws.
As sterling tumbled, the euro retreated from a six-week high and the yen surged. South Africa’s rand led losses among the currencies of commodity-exporting nations, as oil sank toward $48 a barrel and industrial metals slumped. Gold soared with U.S. Treasuries as investors piled into haven assets.
With counting still under way, bookmakers Ladbrokes Plc said that betting odds signaled a 91 percent chance of the U.K. voting to leave the 28-nation EU.