Ben Kew

The Spectator’s Guide to EU Referendum day (and night)

The Spectator’s Guide to EU Referendum day (and night)
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Britain goes to the polls tomorrow for the most important vote in a generation, as the country decides whether it would like to remain part of the European Union, or leave.

But what will happen on the day itself? And where are the key areas to watch out for overnight?

Here, The Spectator has put together a run-through of what to look out for and when we can expect to find out the results:

Thursday 23rd June


Polling stations open across the UK. Voters will be asked the question: Should Britain remain a member of the European Union, or Leave the European Union?


Polling stations close and the counts begin. Unlike a general election, no exit poll will be taken because of the potential margin of error. This will make the result harder to predict until results from the actual counts filter through in the early hours of the morning. However, Sky will have an on-the-day YouGov poll which will come out when the polling stations close.

The BBC, ITV and Sky will also begin their all-night coverage of the referendum.

Friday 24th June


The first result is likely to be announced in Sunderland. The result here will be worth watching for two reasons: firstly, it should give a good indication of overall turnout. And it’ll also be worth keeping a close eye on to see whether Brexit really is a possibility: if Leave are eight points ahead, then there’s a good chance that such healthy support in Northern Labour heartlands could mean the party’s traditional working class base have sided with ‘Leave’. Wandsworth in London is likely to be next to declare, with the City of London shortly afterwards. Both should show a healthy win for ‘Remain’


Other northern cities such as Newcastle, Wigan and Hartlepool will declare soon after. All of these results should again show which way Labour voters have sided in the debate, so will be worth watching closely.


The results will be coming in thick and fast with 37 separate areas having declared by now, including Oxford (a near-certain ‘Remain’ win), Hartlepool and Gibraltar. We should also have the results from Neath Port Talbot soon, where it’ll be interesting to see if the ‘Leave’ campaign have been successful in convincing local steelworkers they are better off out of the EU.


Cambridge, a pro-European stronghold, is expected to announce alongside Peterborough, one of the most Eurosceptic areas of the country. Dozens of other results should also come in at this time, including in West Oxfordshire, where the Prime Minister’s own Witney seat is.


Nearly half of the country’s regions will have announced their results, and pollsters should be able to make a clearer prediction as to Britain’s overall decision. We should also by this stage have a good idea of turnout in the referendum.

4:00 - 5.00am

Cities including Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester will all announce their results in the next hour or so. Havering, the most Eurosceptic town in the country, also comes through at this time. By now, many of the places most likely to want ‘Out’ are likely to have declared.


Assuming the referendum isn’t neck-and-neck, we should by now have a good idea of who has won. That being said, if it is close, there are a handful of cities which will still be left to declare, including Bristol, Bath and Leicester.


The exact time we get the result is largely guesswork, but the Electoral Commission said they expect news to filter through ‘around breakfast time’. If all goes to plan, Chief Counting Officer Jenny Watson will announce the final result in Manchester around now. Although if the referendum isn’t as close as some expect, the result could filter through unofficially a few hours’ earlier.


David Cameron is likely to hold a press conference in Downing Street in reaction to the result at approximately 10am. Whatever the result, all eyes will be on the Prime Minister as the country awaits to learn what happens next.