LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 23 – Millions of people across Britain vote Thursday in a bitterly fought, knife-edge referendum that could tear up the island nation’s EU membership and spark the greatest emergency of the bloc’s 60-year history.
A record 46.5 million voters are signed up to take an irreversible decision on Britain’s future in the 28-nation European Union, which was born out of a determination to forge lasting peace in the continent after the carnage of two world wars.
The once-in-a-generation referendum asks: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”.
Each voter must write a cross by one of two options:
– “Remain a member of the European Union”
– “Leave the European Union”
World financial markets, like voters, are in suspense over the result.
On the eve of the historic referendum, two polls – both conducted over the Internet – put the “Leave” camp ahead by one or two percentage points, well within the margin of error.
But a telephone poll gave “Remain” a notable lead of 48 percent, ahead of “Leave” on 42 percent.
Financial institutions are reinforcing teams to cope with the prospect of frantic trading through the day and the world’s leading central banks say they are ready to react in any eventuality.