Sunday 23 October 2016

BREXIT: Ukip leader Nigel Farage says it 'looks like Remain will edge it' as counting begins


Published 23/06/2016 | 22:36

UKIP leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
UKIP leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Leading Leave campaigner Nigel Farage appeared to be preparing to concede defeat with counting under way in the historic referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

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The Ukip leader told Sky News that the Remain camp seemed likely to "edge it", but insisted that his party would continue its fight to take Britain out of the EU.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage launches his EU referendum poster campaign. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA
Ukip leader Nigel Farage launches his EU referendum poster campaign. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA

There were no exit polls in the vote, but a YouGov opinion poll released as polling stations closed put Remain ahead by 52% to 48%.

Mr Farage said: "It's been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and (it) looks like Remain will edge it.

"Ukip and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future."

Senior Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith cast doubt on Mr Farage's suggestion that Remain is set for victory.

"I never quite follow what Nigel Farage says," the former work and pensions secretary told the BBC. "Quite often he says two different things at the same time.

"I genuinely do not have a sense of how this has gone."

It is likely to be well into the early hours of Friday before a reliable picture emerges of how Britain has voted in what Mr Cameron has described as the most important poll in a lifetime. And the final result is not expected to be confirmed at the Electoral Commission's main counting centre in Manchester until breakfast time.

A record number of voters are eligible to take part in the referendum, with the Electoral Commission putting the number at 46,499,537.

Anecdotal evidence from around the country suggests that turn-out has been high in many areas - something widely expected to favour the Remain camp. In Gibraltar, which is taking part in the referendum as a British overseas territory within the EU, turnout was a healthy 84%.

Fine weather in Scotland heartened Remain campaigners, who are relying on a high turnout north of the border, where voters are thought to be strongly pro-EU.

But torrential rain and flooding in the South East caused transport disruption which may have prevented some voters from reaching the ballot box in time. Some polling stations were forced to close, and two in Kingston-upon-Thames had to be relocated after becoming inundated.

Leave campaign standard-bearer Boris Johnson had a last-minute dash to vote in north London, due to a delay to his flight from Scotland after attending his daughter's university graduation ceremony - finally reaching the polling station with less than 25 minutes to spare.

Waiting for his plane in Edinburgh, he told reporters that polls had been "very close" but turnout was "good in areas where we need it to be".

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said from anecdotal evidence it seemed like Remain was ahead.

She told BBC News: "Obviously we've got a long night ahead of us. We are confident and hopeful that there will be a victory for the Remain campaign but we'll obviously have to see."

If there is a Remain victory the Government will go on seeking reform in the EU, she added.

"I think if there's been a clear win then that's sending a message," Mrs Morgan said.

"One of the things obviously is going to be implementing the reform deal the Prime Minister secured back in February."

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