Voters in the United Kingdom have chosen to leave the European Union in a hotly-contested referendum that has left stock markets in turmoil across the world.
One of Britain's major news outlet, Sky News, also projected a slight victory, 48-52%, for those campaigning to “Leave” the 43-year union with 27 other countries in continental Europe.
Polls closed at 10 p.m. local time and counting continued into Friday, with more than 82% precincts reporting as at 4 a.m.
Nigel Farage, leader of UK Independent Party, an ardent proponent of an independent Britain, who led the campaign for the ballot initiative–now widely known as Brexit– declared a victory for his camp in the early hours of Friday, saying June 23, 2016, will “go down in our history as our Independence Day,” according to British media reports.
The stunning outcome has undermined the calculation of Britain’s political establishment which campaigned vigorously for the kingdom to “Remain” in the European Union. The development has also put further pressure on the country’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was among the most vocal voices for the “Remain” camp, to step down from office, UK media reported.
Major stock indexes across the world tumbled following the news, with Japan’s main benchmark, Nikkei 225 plunging () more than 7.6% as at 1:32 p.m. local time
The pounds sterling also fell to a 30-year low against major currencies,
according to UK Telepgrah.
Political analysts said the results would see the UK adopt stringent immigration policies and likely to trigger a gradual exit by other countries from the EU.