Polls opened at 7am this morning and will close at 10pm tonight. Up to one in five will have already voted by post, and they may have done so when the Leave or Remain campaign was enjoying a burst of momentum, which could produce unexpected results.
The results are being counted by 380 Local Authorities across the country, most of whom will declare their result overnight. These Authorities vary in size; Birmingham is the largest with around 700,000 voters, compared to the Isles of Scilly with just 1,600. Once collated, the national result will be announced in Manchester.
A conclusive result should be clear around 5am, unless it is extraordinarily close. Sunderland, keen to maintain their status as the fastest counters, are set to declare at 12:30am. We will know 50% of the results around 3:30am and 75% around 4am. Local Authorities such as Swindon and Nuneaton, where levels of support for Remain and Leave are finely balanced, will be announced between 1am and 2am, and could provide an early indication as to which way the vote is likely to go.
If Remain win, expect an announcement from the Prime Minister early on Friday morning with a message of victory, but conciliatory in tone. If the Leave campaign win, expect a far more measured statement with a big decision on his future. It has been reported that after voting closes this evening, pro-Leave MPs will publish a letter calling for the Prime Minister to stay on, whatever the result, to see through the renegotiation with the EU. In defeat however, the reality is that this is unlikely to happen. Instead we are likely to see the Prime Minister stand down as soon as a new leader is elected which could be by the Party Conference in October. The Leave camp have indicated that in the event of a vote to leave, Labour MP, Gisela Stuart, would make an initial statement from the Leave camp with Boris Johnson and Michael Gove waiting until after a statement from the Prime Minister before making any pronouncement.
One thing is for sure, by this time tomorrow, Britain’s fate in the EU will be decided, for now at least.