You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Polls open in UK referendum

dpadpa 22/06/2016

Britain has began voting on a referendum that will determine if the country remains in the EU, ending a campaign that has exposed deep divisions.

Voting has begun at 41,000 polling stations across Britain in a referendum on whether or not the country should leave the European Union.

About 46.5 million voters are registered in 382 areas, the electoral commission says, with experts predicting turnout between 60 per cent and 80 per cent.

Voters are asked the single question: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

Polls are open until 10pm on Thursday (0700 AEST Friday), with the first results from local counts expected in the early hours of Friday and the final result around 7am (1700 AEST).

The referendum has exposed deep divisions over issues including sovereignty and national identity.

"Leave" campaigners claim that only a British exit can restore power to parliament and control immigration.

The "Remain" campaign led by Prime Minister David Cameron argues that Britain is safer and richer inside the 28-nation EU.

Financial markets have been volatile ahead of the vote, as opinion polls suggested a tight race.

A final poll by Opinium put the Leave vote on 45 per cent and Remain on 44 per cent, with 9 per cent undecided, as the online survey of more than 3000 adults produced a "statistical dead heat".

"A brutal debate, dominated by personal attacks and misleading claims, has seen Leave gradually make ground on the once-dominant Remain campaign," The Telegraph commented late on Wednesday.

But bookmakers and investors gave Remain a higher chance of victory than Leave, while an online survey of more than 5000 people published on Tuesday suggested that around a third of voters had not made a final decision.

Experts are predicting a turnout of 60 per cent to 80 per cent.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron called the referendum in February after negotiating a package of reforms that he said gave Britain a "special status" in the EU.

Much of the debate focussed on the economy and EU migration, particularly in the last few weeks before the referendum.

"You don't tackle immigration by tanking the economy," Cameron told ITV between a flurry of events on Wednesday's final day of campaigning.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon