Odds favour ‘remain’ on eve of Brexit vote
The betting markets solidly stood by the 'remain' side. The Betfair exchange said on Wednesday 'remain' is now at 76 per cent probability.
Some 80 per cent of the £1 million placed during and after a BBC debate on Tuesday was on 'remain', the exchange said in a statement.
The United Kingdom is voting today, June 23, on whether to remain in the European Union. As months of fierce campaigning wind down and Britons hold their breath for what has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime decision, AP explains the purpose and mechanics of the vote.
British Prime Minister David Cameron courted conservative and anti-EU voters during the last election by promising to hold a referendum on the UK's membership in the 28-nation bloc by the end of 2017.
Cameron defended Britain's participation in the EU bloc in a BBC interview Wednesday, arguing that the country benefits from membership and rejected the notion that the institution is moribund.
"We are not shackled to a corpse," he said.
Meanwhile, the most notable figure in the leave campaign, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, kicked off a whirlwind tour of England as he pushed for a British exit - or Brexit. Johnson urged voters to "believe in our country".
Those campaigning to leave say the EU has evolved into an undemocratic and oppressive entity far removed from its original purpose as a trading bloc that Britain originally joined in 1973. They claim that only a Brexit can restore sovereignty and effectively limit immigration.
Those campaigning to remain argue that the EU ensures peace and prosperity for more than 500 million people from Portugal to Finland, and the benefits far outweigh the costs.
WHO CAN VOTE?
British and Irish citizens 18 and over who reside in the United Kingdom, as well as UK residents of Commonwealth countries who have the right to live in the country, can vote in the referendum. UK nationals who live outside the country but were registered to vote in parliamentary elections in the past 15 years, and Irish citizens overseas who were born or registered to vote in Northern Ireland in the same period, can also vote.
In addition, some citizens of Gibraltar - a British enclave on the south coast of Spain - and members of the House of Lords, who cannot normally vote in general elections, have been given permission to participate in the referendum.
The Electoral Commission says a record number of 46,499,537 voters were registered for the referendum by Tuesday.
Voters are asked to answer one question: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" The options are: "Remain a member of the European Union" and "Leave the European Union".
ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESULTS
Polling stations open at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT, 2 a.m. EDT) and close at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT, 5 p.m. EDT). Many votes will have been cast in advance by postal ballot. Election officials in 382 areas will begin counting the votes immediately after polls close.
The law does not prohibit campaigning on voting day, but by convention political parties refrain from doing so. Publishing exit polls prior to the end of voting at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT, 5 p.m. EDT) is, however, a criminal offence.
Regional counting offices will send their results to Manchester, where the chair of the UK Electoral Commission is expected to announce the official outcome at about 7 a.m. (0600 GMT, 2 a.m. EDT) on Friday. However, the result may well be known from as early as 4 a.m. (0300 GMT, 11 p.m. EDT Thursday) as media tally the local results.
The rules do not allow for a national recount, but courts can order recounts at the local level. The overall outcome can be challenged by judicial review filed within six weeks.
Is the referendum binding? No. Parliament is not legally required to abide by the vote, but there would be strong political pressure to do so, especially if the result of the referendum is clear-cut.