Britain has voted to break out of the European Union, national media declared Friday, striking a thunderous blow against the bloc and spreading panic through world markets as sterling collapsed to a 31-year low.
Investors scrambled to sell the pound, oil and stocks as Britain took a lurch into the unknown, becoming the first country to quit in the EU’s 60-year history, a culmination of decades of suspicion over European aims of creating an ever-closer political union.
With results in for 350 of the 382 areas that took part across Britain, the result was 52 percent for “Leave” and 48 percent for “Remain”.
Britain’s national broadcaster the BBC and Sky News both predicted a clear victory for the “Leave” campaign.
Sterling plunged more than nine percent to $1.33, a 31-year low. World oil prices skidded by more than six percent. Tokyo stocks plummeted by more than eight percent and Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso called an emergency news briefing.
“Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day,” said top anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, who promised Britons the chance to retake power from Brussels and rein in high immigration.