British voters cast their lot Thursday in favor of Brexit from the European Union, a shocking development that has roiled world markets.
The British pound fell to a 30-year low early Friday as “Leave” leaders declared June 23 as “Independence Day” and the government of Prime Minister David Cameron faced the prospect of beginning the difficult negotiations with EU members on the Brexit.
The Treaty on European Union spells out the process for the withdrawal. Once Britain formally notifies the EU that it intends to leave, it has a two-year window to negotiate the terms of its exit.
Thursday’s referendum is technically not legally binding, but it isn’t expected that political opponents would try to maneuver politically around the will of the people expressed in Thursday’s vote.
With 85.3 percent of precincts reporting, Leave had 14.15 million votes, 51.6 percent, to 13.27 million votes for Remain, 48.4 percent.
Exit polls released after the polls had closed late Thursday had suggested a narrow win for Remain, which had calmed markets.
The victory for Leave is expected to have negative impact on U.S. financial markets, which are expected to open sharply lower on Friday.