Last updated 12.55 pm Friday 

Britain has voted to leave the European Union by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in a historic referendum result that went against poll predictions. 

Ukip leader Nigel Farage declared victory, saying dawn was breaking on an independent United Kingdom. A total of 1.2 million votes detached the Leave from the Remain camps.

London, Scotland and Northern Ireland all voted to remain in the EU but poor results in northern parts of England put paid to the Remain camp's hopes. 

The Sterling plunged more than eight per cent to a 31-year low in trading on the back of the news, and David Cameron announced that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister by October. 

Leave campaigner and former London mayor Boris Johnson said nothing would change in the short-term. 

"In voting to leave the EU it is vital to stress that there is now no need for haste and indeed as the Prime Minister has just said, nothing will change over the short term," he told reporters this morning. 

He said the vote was a golden opportunity for the UK. "We can find our voice in the world again, a voice that is commensurate with the fifth-biggest economy on Earth," he said.

"I believe we now have a glorious opportunity: we can pass our laws and set our taxes entirely according to the needs of the UK economy."

twitter id="746186750150709249" link="https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/746186750150709249" username="SkyNews" author="Sky News" date="June 24, 2016" cards="visible" conversation="all"]Sky News projects UK votes to Leave European Union #EURef pic.twitter.com/v5cD0RjAg0[/twitter]

Leave performed better than expected in its strongholds, and Remain's margins in its own areas were narrower. Crucially, turnout was better in the Leave areas.

Scotland voted to Remain by a strong margin, 62 per cent to 38 per cent. So too did Northern Ireland. But it was a different story south of the border. The North West voted almost completely for Leave, except for Liverpool and Manchester where Remain won by a slim margin. Newcastle in the North-East also voted narrowly for Remain. Wales voted Leave. 

The Remain camp was buoyed before vote-counting had even started when UKIP leader Nigel Farage unexpectedly declared  that "It looks like Remain will edge it."

The Sterling soared after Farage's comments last night but then plunged as results rolled in from more than 350 counting centres.  

A Yougov Poll announced at 11pm as polling closed, showed 52 percent support for Remain and 48 percent to leave.  

Within minutes of polling stations closing, a letter from 84 Conservative MPs who had campaigned for Brexit was delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron, thanking him for calling the referendum and urging him to stay, whatever the outcome.  Among them was former London Mayor Boris Johnson, one of the most vocal supporters of Brexit.

Cameron had led the Remain campaign and found the backing of all living former UK prime ministers. 

He called the vote in 2013 under pressure from the rebellious anti-EU wing of his Conservative Party and the surging UK Independence Party (UKIP), hoping to end decades of debate over Britain's ties with Europe. 

IMPACT ON MALTA

Malta had been backing calls for the UK to stay in the EU.

The sudden drop in the value of the Sterling is likely to hurt the Maltese tourism industry, as European holidays become more expensive for Brits. Britain is Malta's biggest tourist market. The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association made mention of this threat,  though it also said that the fallout would be "more complicated". 

Conversely, UK holidays for the Maltese would be cheaper. Buying goods from the UK would also be cheaper, but that may not last long if the UK loses free trade arrangements within the EU and customs are reintroduced. Maltese exports would be more expensive.

The Brexit decision could also have a significant impact on the EU's agenda while Malta is EU president in the first half of next year, potentially sidelining issues Malta would like to give prominence to.

Britain's departure from the EU could also see Malta losing a valuable ally as it resists efforts for tax harmonisation in the bloc, something seen as important for the financial services industry.

On the other hand, Malta could benefit as an EU financial jurisdiction if financial companies decide to quit London. 

The British Brexit decision also raises questions on a range of other issues. For example, will Air Malta continue to enjoy Open Skies arrangements in the UK, and how would that impact on the sale of equity in the airline?

Will Maltese living and working in the UK (and vice versa) face new hurdles? Will Maltese students continue to be able to study in UK university under the current terms?  

The treatment of Maltese patients in UK hospitals is not likely to be affected since that is regulated by reciprocal arrangements.

Britain's departure from the EU could also cause a hole in the EU budget, with the UK currently contributing some £350 million a week. That might require Malta (and other countries) to raise its contribution, or scale back its receipts from the EU. 

Comments

Comments not loading?

We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Comments powered by Disqus