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Polls close in Britain's historic EU vote

Press AssociationPress Association 23/06/2016 By Andrew Woodcock

Voting has finished in the historic referendum on British membership of the European Union, with polls suggesting the result remains too close to call.

Prime Minister David Cameron faces a tense night as votes are counted across the UK, with a Leave vote widely expected to spell the end of his premiership.

The final poll released just hours before voting stations closed their doors put the In side ahead by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

But the Ipsos Mori survey for the London Evening Standard is unlikely to be enough to allay prime ministerial nerves, with other polls in the last 24 hours showing a lead for Leave.

With no exit polls being conducted by broadcasters, it is likely to be well into the early hours of Friday local time before a reliable picture emerges of how Britain has voted in what Mr Cameron has described as the most important vote in a lifetime.

And the final result is not expected to be confirmed at the Electoral Commission's main counting centre in Manchester until breakfast time in the UK.

A record number of voters are eligible to take part in the referendum, with the Electoral Commission putting the number at 46,499,537.

Anecdotal evidence from around the country suggests that turn-out has been high in many areas - something widely expected to favour the Remain camp.

Fine weather in Scotland heartened Remain campaigners, who are relying on a high turnout north of the border, where voters are thought to be strongly pro-EU.

But torrential rain and flooding in the South East caused transport disruption which may have prevented some voters from reaching the ballot box in time.

Some polling stations were forced to close, and two in Kingston-upon-Thames had to be relocated after becoming inundated.

Both sides of the campaign have been locked in fierce fighting for months, and things came to a frenetic close on Wednesday as senior politicians criss-crossed across the country to try to sway undecided voters.

The Prime Minister and his Remain colleagues from across the political spectrum have warned of the potentially severe economic consequences of a Brexit vote amid fears of financial market turmoil and another recession.

But Leave campaigners, led by former London mayor Boris Johnson, have urged voters to "take back control" of the country.

Meanwhile, dozens of celebrities have intervened during the course of the campaign to make their feelings known.

Footballer David Beckham, James Bond actor Daniel Craig and Harry Potter author JK Rowling were just three of the high-profile names to back the Remain campaign, while Leave won support from the likes of comedian John Cleese, former cricketer Sir Ian Botham and former England football player Sol Campbell.

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