After a nail-biting night in which the vote kept see-sawing from one side to the other, “Leave” has won a victory over “Remain” of 51 percent to 49 percent. Leave won throughout the heart of England and in Wales, while Remain was strongest in London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The news is already causing massive economic ripples, with the pound dropping 13 percent to its lowest point against the dollar since 1985, before recovering.
In the longer run, the meaning of the vote is unclear. The referendum is non-binding, but the results will be hard to ignore. All the major British political parties supported Remain, so the vote is a repudiation of an entire political class. Scottish nationalists are already using the results of the referendum to re-open the question of independence. British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to resign, since the referendum was his idea, an unforced error which will now reshape the future not only of his own country but the world.