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Britain Votes to Leave European Union

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage claims victory for the Leave campaign on June 24, 2016, in London. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

British voters have elected to leave the European Union, sending the pound down more than 10 percent to its lowest level since 1985.

Turnout across the United Kingdom was 72 percent, with Scotland solidly in the “remain” camp while southern England and Wales propelled the “leave” faction.

With about 30 million votes in, the “Brexit” campaign was triumphant by 52 percent to 48 percent.

The fallout was expected to reverberate in future referendums. Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness said in March that a Brexit win should be followed by an Ireland reunification vote. Fifty-six percent of Northern Ireland voters elected to remain part of the EU.

Scotland, which voted by 62 percent to remain in the EU and voted against independence from the UK in 2014, is expected to revisit the possibility of a split.

“Scotland must keep open every option for protecting ourselves from this threat. The Scottish Parliament and government must be represented in the negotiations about what comes next,” said member of parliament Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens. “A cross-party plan of action should be sought, so we can defend our rights as EU citizens.”

The UK Independence Party, led by Nigel Farage, was doing a victory lap before the race was even called.

“We have fought against the multinationals, we have fought against the big merchant banks, we have fought against big politics, we have fought against lies, corruption and deceit,” Farage declared at a celebration. “And today honesty, decency and belief in nation, I think, now is going to win. And we will have done it without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired, we’d have done it by damned hard work on the ground.”

Prime Minister David Cameron had not yet commented. He and President Obama both favored Britain remaining in the UK.

Obama was in San Francisco on Thursday night; the White House issued a statement to reporters saying Obama “has been briefed on the incoming returns in the UK referendum, and he will continue to be updated by his team as the situation warrants.”

“We expect the president will have an opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Cameron over the course of the next day, and we will release further comment as soon as appropriate,” the administration added.

The BBC reported that 84 Conservative members of parliament who campaigned for the EU divorce wrote Cameron to ask that he stay at 10 Downing Street regardless of the results. Farage has said Cameron should quit in the face of a Brexit win.