Closed EU referendum live: UK heads to the polls

U.K. Voters Head To The Polls In The EU Referendum © Chris Ratcliffe, Bloomberg

It’s decision day. Britain is voting on whether to leave the European Union after a bitter and divisive campaign.

With the result too close to call, turnout is likely to be crucial. The Remain and Leave camps are pulling out the stops to ensure the maximum number of their supporters actually vote.

The referendum has pitted old against young, towns against cities, and split political parties. So all eyes will be on early returns in the north and later London.

We will be updating this live blog throughout the night, with the results possible in early Friday morning. You can also follow us on our Twitter account @FT.

Key points

  • Polls are open from 7am to 10pm
  • A record 46,499,537 people are entitled to vote
  • Initial indications from around the country are of high turnout, with many polling stations reporting queues
  • FT poll of opinion polls on Wednesday night put Remain fractionally ahead at 47% versus 45% for Leave
  • Sterling earlier hit its highest level this year, before retreating. Markets are braced for major fluctuations in the currency overnight given thin trading conditions
  • Official statistics released on the morning of the vote show that the nation’s population has hit 65 million

Good morning and welcome to the FT’s live polling day blog.

Here are the key stories to read on the FT today – we’ll be looking at the other papers in a minute.

Sterling hits highest point of year as Britons head to polls

Traders plan for all-night Brexit vigil

Electricity spike forecast for Brexit vote

Brexit in 7 charts — the economic impact

The polls are now open and will close at 10pm.

It is a rainy morning here in London, as this picture from the FT’s wealth correspondent Hugo Greenhalgh shows. Pollsters have warned that weather could influence voter turnout.

Heavy showers, thunderstorms and torrential weather are reported across London and much of the south east of England this morning. Localized flash-flooded has already caused transport problems in a number of areas.

The London Fire Brigade reports being inundated with emergency calls.

Still, for the country as a whole the forecast is not too bad. This from the Met Office

The FT editorial this morning calls the referendum “a moment of destiny for Britain and Europe”.

Britain’s day of decision has finally arrived. After a long, wearying referendum campaign, the British people will on Thursday resolve whether or not their country is to leave the EU. More than 46m citizens are eligible to vote in a plebiscite whose outcome will have immense significance for them as well as for Europe. Rarely have the eyes of the world been trained on the UK as they are at this moment.

In the past four months, the debate between the Remain and Leave camps has polarised the nation to a degree that has dismayed many. But now that the people are to have their say, the first duty of this newspaper is to urge its British readers — and the wider public — to go out and vote.

Participation at UK elections has declined precipitously in recent years but the imperative to turn up at the ballot box on Thursday is overwhelming. A decision to leave the EU would not only have profound consequences for Britain, it would also be irrevocable. Out means out. In a referendum whose result appears as uncertain as this one, every vote counts.

The Financial Times remains resolute in its belief that leaving the EU would be a grievous act of self harm that would damage not only the UK but Europe and the west. Nothing in the closing exchanges of the campaign has altered our view.

Sterling is edging up this morning, Mehreen Khan writes on fastFT.

At 7:25am, the pound was up 0.44 per cent at $1.4765 against the dollar, slipping for a high of $1.4844 in late trading yesterday after a flurry of late polls showed a mixed bag for the Leave and Remain camps.

The FT’s Brexit poll tracker, last updated earlier today, shows Remain with 47 per cent of the vote, compared to Leave at 45 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, Brexit is the only story in town for today’s papers – but the angle taken very much depends on the stance of the paper.

The Sun urges its readers to “win back Britain’s freedom”.

But the Guardian opts for a “last ditch push to stay in Europe”.

The Times opts for a straighter approach, focusing on the vote being “too close to call” and looking at the legacy of grievance over tactics and tone.

The polls may be open, but Britain’s biggest bookmakers are still taking bets on the referendum.

William Hill said this morning that they were making “Remain” their 2/9 favourite, with “Leave” offered at 3/1.

The bookmaker says the largest bet staked on the vote was from a woman in central London, who placed a £100,000 bet on “Remain” at odds of 2/5.

Ladbrokes also favours “Remain”, at 1/4 odds, with “Leave” at 3/1.

Campaigning is now over, with politicians on all sides of the debate focusing on getting out the vote. Yesterday though was the time for last minute pleas. Here are some of the key quotes:

Prime minister David Cameron
“Britain will be a more insular and inward-looking country if it votes to leave the European Union.”

“It is a fact that our economy will be weaker if we leave and stronger if we stay … Put jobs first, put the economy first.”

Former Major of London and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson
“There is a very clear choice between those on their side who speak of nothing but fear of the consequences of leaving the EU, and we on our side, who offer hope.”

“If we vote to leave we can take back control of our democracy and our immigration policy.”

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown
“The Britain that I know is the Britain of Jo Cox, the Britain where people are tolerant and not prejudiced.”

“We will be no less British as a result of cooperating with our neighbors.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage
“At the end of the day tomorrow when people vote they must make a decision – which flag is theirs? I want us to live under British passports and under the British flag.”

The heavy rain is causing chaos for commuters in London this morning, with delays on multiple Tube and train lines, and many stations closed altogether due to flooding.

This is the latest from Transport for London (TfL):

But the rain isn’t stopping all voters. This photograph was taken by FT picture editor Annabel Cook at a polling station in Muswell Hill in north London.

The FT’s Hugo Greenhalgh is at Bloomsbury, central London, in the rain.

He reports that a mixture of students, bankers and the retired were first to vote at the Chinese Community Centre in Tavistock Place.

Diversity in terms of professions, but one common theme emerging early on: a feeling that this has been an extremely divisive campaign, with lies and exaggerations on both sides.

And, having the chance to cast their votes, most now remain concerned, not just for the outcome, but also the long-term impact the campaign has had on the country.

Here are some thoughts from a few of those he spoke to:

Sam Levy, student, studying law – one of the first to vote this morning as he’s “just about to go for a swim”.

“I think [the campaign] has been misleading on both sides… If we were to leave, while I think there will be a drop in the pound, I don’t think there will be a run; I don’t think it will be a catastrophe.”

Tom Reed, retired, 67

“[The campaign] has been far too emotive and deeply divisive and I’m very worried about the future effects, whatever the result. There has been a lot of rabble rousing and some very subjective judgement; and the level of debate and the level of speaking has become very divisive.”

Portia Bajo, 20, student studying economics

“I don’t think either [side] has been telling the truth, so I’ve found it quite hard to believe both sides.”

Luke Dodimead, accountant, 35

“It has been divisive at times. Most of friends are going to vote, in fact everyone I know will – and there will be a high turnout, more so than for a government vote.”

Eloise Moore-Mate, doctor, 42

“In a way, I’ve been trying to avoid them, because I feel either side has been spinning it, I knew what i was going to vote from the start, so it didn’t really make a difference to me.”

Jeremy Moore-Mate, banker, 40

“I’ve read all the coverage where I can get it. There are so many lies.”

The referendum is a global story, and the FT’s reporters across the world are monitoring local media in multiple markets.

The FT’s Asia world news editor, Andreas Paleit, writes that one of China’s biggest newspapers, the English-language edition of the nationalist tabloid the Global Times, likened the UK government to a “show-off tightrope walker”.

The newspaper published an editorial today criticising UK leaders for playing a “risky game” with the country’s future and calling the choice to call a referendum a “strategically extreme plan”.

“If the UK votes to stay in the EU, the country will have just been through a political masquerade. If not, then the country will have acted like a show-off tightrope walker who unfortunately fell with no safety belt fastened,” the editorial said.

For those of you watching TV today you’ll notice a distinct change in both tone and content.

That is because all broadcasters have strict regulations on what they can and can’t broadcast once the polls are open.

Essentially, they are only allowed to report factual details (such as the polls being open) and not details of campaigning.

This is the text from Ofcom – which regulates broadcasting in the UK:

Rule 6.4 Discussion and analysis of election and referendum issues must finish when the poll opens… The purpose of Rule 6.4 is to ensure that broadcast coverage on the day of an election does not directly affect voters’ decision.

The BBC interprets this rule very strictly. The guidelines from the BBC Trust say that during this period there should be no coverage of “any of the issues relating to the referendum” campaign on TV, radio or

Writing this morning Ric Bailey, the BBC’s chief advisor for editorial standards, stressed that this means:

Subjects which have been contested or are part of the campaign in any way – or other controversial matters relating to the EU or the referendum – must not be covered on polling day, to ensure the BBC’s output cannot be seen as influencing the ballot while the polls are open

Historic coverage though does not have to be removed from websites.

One-month overnight implied sterling volatility, reflecting the theoretical price of insuring against swings in the pound against the dollar, has surged to 106.23 per cent, an all-time high, the FT’s Joel Lewin writes over on fastFT.

That’s significantly higher than at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008, when the metric hit 67.95.

Early (and unscientific) indications are that Britons have heeded the calls from all parties to turn out and vote.

The FT’s economics correspondent Gemma Tetlow reports that polling officers in Lewisham – her local station – thought turnout was up a lot. After about 35% at the general election, they reckoned it would be “at least 50%” today.

That is echoed in other locations across the capital, easing fears that the torrential rain will keep people away.

The various key campaign figures have also been out about early:

(c) Anthony Devlin – PA Wire

The FT Markets team are following the latest developments in trading this morning.

Here’s how things look as of 8:40am this morning:

Sterling hit its highest point of the year and equity gauges are firmer as voting gets under way in the UK’s referendum on whether to stay in the EU.

Markets have been rattled in recent months on fears that already fragile global growth would be damaged by any economic and political rupture that a “Brexit” might cause.

So, Thursday’s tentatively “risk on” tone suggests more investors, despite some mixed polls, are betting that Britons will decide to “Remain”.

But Chris Scicluna of Daiwa Capital Markets is warning that a “degree of caution” is needed.

Here’s what he told clients this morning:

Market momentum of the last few days suggests that investors have taken a firm view that victory to the Remain camp is on its way. A degree of caution, however, is required.

The ComRes poll suggested that more than 10 per cent of the electorate was still undecided and 17 per cent might yet change their minds.

Moreover, of the other three main polls published since yesterday morning, two gave a lead to Leave while another gave only a small lead for Remain. And, of course, eventual turnout is uncertain too, with the terrible weather in South East England that has disrupted travel this morning possibly set to have a bearing.

Polling stations in the UK come in all shapes and sizes.

Typically held in school or church halls they are resolutely neutral places – inside at least.

Outside, though can be a different story. Neil O’Sullivan from the FT’s life and arts desk snapped this on his way to work at Long Bennington in Lincolnshire.

“Decorations from Queen’s birthday party providing useful last minute visual cue for those about to vote!” he notes.

The last poll of the campaign season is expected at 11am, the chief executive of Ipsos Mori has said.

The FT’s Brexit poll tracker, last updated earlier today, shows Remain with 47 per cent of the vote, compared to Leave at 45 per cent.

All the evidence coming in from London is that the polling stations are very busy indeed.

The FT’s UK news editor Malcolm Moore reports that in Hampton Wick in south-west London staff report that there were long queues out in the rain at 7am.

Economics editor Chris Giles likewise reports long queues at Kentish Town in the north of the city.

It seems clear that the inclement weather has not stopped people turning out to vote.

In Brighton on the south coast, things on quieter but there will still early birds waiting outside for polls to open, the FT’s Sue Matthias reports.

The ONS has released its annual population projections this morning. The FT’s Gemma Tetlow has the headlines:

The UK population reached 65.1m last year, rising by more than half a million (or 0.8 per cent) in 12 months. This is in line with the ONS’s most recent projection.

The number of people arriving from abroad exceeded the number leaving by 335,600.

Natural population growth – the difference between the number of births and deaths – added a further 171,800 people. But this was a smaller contribution than a year earlier, as the number of deaths increased (up 52,400) and the number of births fell (down 1,900).

A dispatch from the Central Line in London. An Austrian woman tells the FT’s Miranda Green she is trying not to think about the “scary” consequences of a Leave vote.

“There are many people like me. It is not just about economics, this will affect lives.”

The woman arrived in the UK as an au pair in 1998 and has remained here ever since, but is not entitled to vote in the referendum as she is not a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen.

“Life happened” she explained. “You meet someone maybe, you get a better job. Now what will happen?”

The short answer is: no-one knows. The status of EU citizens already in the UK, and UK citizens living in other EU countries, will up for discussion in the event of a leave vote.

Remain campaigners are out in force in central London.

This video was filmed by Nicola Stansfield outside London Bridge Station:

Meanwhile, Murad Ahmed reports that Southgate Tube Station in Enfield, a rare Tory outpost in the capital, has had Leave campaigners stationed on many days during the campaign.

But on this rainy morning, these cheery Remainers are the only activists to be found.

It’s not too late. Voters who have not mailed in their postal vote can still take their ballots to their polling station, except in Northern Ireland.

Andy Bounds, the FT’s North of England correspondent, has pointed us to Michael Palin, the chief executive of St Helens Council in Merseyside.

Palin says more than 85 per cent of postal votes will be returned in his council, and other local authorities are expecting similar turnout.

The London boroughs of Hackney and Islington are, pollsters say, among the most pro-EU places in the UK.

“The atmosphere is really positive here,” Louise Barnell, 31, told the FT’s Michael Pooler. “[There are] lots of people who want to remain. Even people who want to vote to remain but can’t [vote] have been wearing stickers.”

Livan Johns, 38, said he had seen many people going to his local polling station.

“There’s a lot of expectation. I’m an immigrant and my wife is from Italy. I have a lot of friends using social media to send messages [about the referendum] and in work everybody is really involved. There’s been a lot of information but we don’t know what’s true or not”.

Up in Highbury (in Islington), Pilita Clark reports that turnover looks high. “We’ve seen twice as many people through the door that we’d normally see at this time of day,” said an official at the Ronalds Road polling station. Just under 600 people had voted by 9:45am.

Scenes like this reported across suburban London this morning:

James Brokenshire, the immigration minister, is MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup. That is the same constituency once represented by Edward Heath, the prime minister who took the UK into the EU four decades ago.
Mr Brokenshire has previously said that leaving the EU “is no panacea or silver bullet” for reducing net immigration.

With immigration one of the key issues in this EU campaign, the Leave campaign has jumped on this morning’s announcement that the UK population has now hit 65 million.

Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott said:

“The only way to get back control over our borders is to Vote Leave today. In the last ten years as many people as live in Birmingham have moved here from another EU country.”

While natural population growth — the difference between the number of births and deaths — added 171,800 people much of the change was driven by new arrivals from abroad.

The number of people arriving from abroad exceeded the number leaving by 335,600. This is a highest level of net migration since at least the early 1990s.

This chart is from the ONS

Mario Draghi said on Tuesday the European Central Bank is preparing for “all possible contingencies” in the event of a UK vote to leave the EU and warned it is “very difficult” to predict the impact of Brexit on the single currency area.

The ECB president said the central bank would use all its available instruments if necessary to counter the side effects of a Brexit, including expanding its quantitative easing programme, under which it is now buying €80bn worth of mostly government bonds each month.

But for now, the ECB’s head of media relations, Michael Steen, has managed to find a bit of comic relief on polling today, posting this cartoon from German newspaper Süddeutsche.

The Constitution Unit at University College London is predicting a ‘Remain’ win by 52:48 – although it acknowledges a much higher degree of uncertainty around the result than usual.

The prediction “reflects an expectation of a 1.5-point rise in support for the status quo, based on the change that is visible on average between the final polls and the actual result in previous referendums in Britain or on the EU elsewhere,” said Alan Renwick and Stephen Fisher at UCL.

“Our forecast probability that Remain will win the referendum is 64 per cent.”

However, the duo caution that the margins of potential error are wide. “Remain could reasonably be expected to get anywhere between 42 per cent and 62 per cent of the vote. Neither a comfortable Remain victory nor a comfortable Leave victory can be ruled out.”

The prediction is based on current vote intention polling and analysis of opinion polling from previous referendums in the UK and across Europe. It takes account of polls published up to yesterday evening. More details of the methodology can be found here (external website).

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, told reporters this morning that he believed the Leave camp had a “very strong chance” of winning the vote.

He told the Press Association “it’s all about turnout and those soft Remainers staying at home.”

© Gareth Fuller-PA Wire

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has also cast her ballot, voting for “Remain” in her local polling place in Lanarkshire, outside of Glasgow.

Ipsos Mori for London Evening Standard:
Remain: 52%
Leave: 48%
Probability of Remain win: 74%
Polling conducted 21-22 June.

This is the final opinion poll – although some institutions are conducting private polling, there is no formal exit poll.

© Getty

Justice Secretary Michael Gove his wife Sarah Vine, a columnist for the Daily Mail, voted at their local polling station in Kensington.

Mr Gove and Ms Vine are close friends of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha — Ms Vine is godmother to their youngest child. But Mr Gove broke ranks in the run-up to the referendum and is a co-convener of the Vote Leave campaign.

Yesterday, Mr Cameron told voters Mr Gove had “lost it” after Mr Gove compared people warning of a Brexit recession to scientists paid by the Hitler government to come up with pre-ordained scientific results.

In contrast to the rain in London, Chris Tighe reports that north east England is basking in hot sunshine – and referendum day looks like being the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far in many parts of the region.

Traditionally better weather is thought to encourage higher turnout as less committed voters have been thought less likely to be willing to get wet in the cause of going to the polls.

In recent weeks 28,000 people have joined the electoral roll in the north east.

Andrew Bounds in Manchester reports that turnout appears high outside London too.

”Polling officers in Upperthong, on the Pennines in West Yorkshire said there was a steady stream from 7am, busier than the general election.”

That Ipsos Mori poll out this morning is based on telephone interviews conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The poll found 52 per cent of people wanted to stay in the EU, compared with 48 per cent who wanted to leave.

But pollsters asked other questions, too — and found that 12 per cent of people said they might change their minds before casting their ballot.

Around two-thirds of people polled said UK Prime Minister David Cameron was right to call the referendum, and only four in 10 said he should resign if there is a Brexit.

It is not just in the UK where the referendum is top of the news agenda.

Frankfurt bureau chief Claire Jones reports that the German media cottoned on late to the possibility of a Brexit, largely ignoring the chances that the UK could quit the EU until a few weeks ago. But they are doing their best to make up for that now.

Best-selling tabloid Bild on Thursday became the latest to wade in and beg the UK to spare Germany the fate of being stuck in a union with the French and Italians. If the UK votes to stay, they said on today’s front page, even the Germans would finally recognise that Geoff Hurst’s controversial goal in the 1966 World Cup Final did actually cross the line.

While we all know the goal did go in — and that England went on to win the match by a margin of two goals anyway, it’s still a nice gesture.

Among the other promises Bild makes are for a ban on jokes about Prince Charles’ ears; the introduction of tea breaks — though anyone that’s tasted a brew here may question the merits of that; and an EU regulation that bans a frothy head on beer.

All of which are likely to sway the vote of absolutely no-one. Though it could counter one of the most common prejudices about the nation that in many ways are now our closest European partners: that they lack a sense of humour.

Weather update: flooding has caused the relocation of some polling stations in suburban London.
Barking and Dagenham council said the polling station on Longbridge Road has had to close; residents can vote at two alternative stations, depending upon where they live.
Kingston Council said a polling station on Devon Road has been relocated to Chessington, again owing to bad weather.

Over in Newry, Northern Ireland Vincent Boland reports that it is a lovely morning, in contrast to rainy London, although showers are expected later in the day.

Polling stations are reporting a relatively strong turnout so far, as Northern Ireland’s 1.2m voters cast their votes at over 600 polling stations.

Opinion polls have suggested that a majority in the province will back the Remain side, although the gap between the two sides appears to have closed a bit in recent days.

Newspapers in Northern Ireland are split. The Belfast News Letter, the world’s oldest English-language paper and a traditional bastion of unionism, has urged a vote to Leave and a high turnout, “so that the final outcome, which ought to settle the matter for a generation, has the extra authority that a huge turnout will give it.”

The more centrist Belfast Telegraph has urged a vote to Remain.

So did the main newspapers in the Republic on Thursday. The Irish Times and the Irish Independent both urged a Remain vote.

“Listen to your better angels,” the Irish Times urges, citing Abraham Lincoln. “Remain, and help us together reshape the unfinished, imperfect common project that is the European Union.”

An early indicator of a probable high turnout – at least in north east England – has just come from Newcastle city council, reports Chris Tighe. Of 74,000 people in the city who requested a postal vote, 81 per cent had already voted by last night. This, said the council, is “significantly higher” than it has experienced before. It does not take into account last-minute postal voters, whose ballot papers will be opened at 3pm.
The response means that 32 per cent of Newcastle’s voters are known to have cast their vote already. With the majority of the city’s 190,000 registered voters opting to go to the polls in person, it looks certain that the city, seen as a bellwether for the eventual outcome, will record a very high turnout.
Last month’s local council elections produced an overall turnout of 39.9 per cent.

Italy’s finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, has warned that the EU “faces a long period of uncertainty” if Britons back Brexit, writes Rachel Sanderson, the FT’s correspondent in Milan.

Padoan told Il Foglio, the Italian newspaper, that there would be “three definitive consequences” if the UK leaves the EU.

In an interview published today, he said:

In the first place there is a risk of emulation as populist groups could try to undertake similar initiatives in other member states. Second consequence: the calling of the referendum has generated a climate of uncertainty with an effect on financial markets. Finally, an overall weakening about the outlook for the EU risks putting the breaks on corporate decisions which will have a knock on effect on economic activity.

Sanderson also reports that at a closed-door meeting of industrialists and politicians today, one former Italian leader said the referendum was “an abuse of democracy”.

“David Cameron chose to call the vote to defend his position within his own Conservative party,” the former leader said.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is the latest politician to pin his colours to the mast on Twitter this morning.

FT political editor George Parker has filed a story on the last-minute appeals by Blair and two other former prime ministers — John Major and Gordon Brown — to convince voters to back the UK remaining in the EU.

The tiny overseas territory of Gibraltar is expected to be among the constituencies most supportive of British EU membership, writes the FT’s Madrid bureau chief Tobias Buck.

Fears that Brexit would complicate what is an already tense relationship with Spain mean that a vast majority of the peninsula’s 33,000 citizens are sympathetic to the Remain cause.

According to a poll published last week in the Gibraltar Chronicle, the local newspaper, 94 per cent of voters will support British membership, with just 2 per cent backing Leave.

© Getty

Useful summary from Mike Smithson, the editor of And a reminder that polling firms have a lot riding on this referendum too, after their wayward predictions in the 2015 general election.

There may have been queues at polling stations in London, but the FT’s Scotland correspondent Mure Dickie says in Scotland there has been “little of the buzz or excitement that surrounded the 2014 independence referendum”.

Only a handful of voters were at the polling station in central Edinburgh’s St Mary’s Cathedral where Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, cast her ballot just before 9am.

Ms Davidson, who initially aimed to play a low-profile role in the campaign, got rave reviews for her performance at a BBC debate at Wembley Arena this week.

Ms Davidson, who is backing “Remain”, said after she voted this morning that she felt strongly Scottish and strongly British, but was less wedded to being European.

Scotland is generally expected to return a clear majority for “Remain”.

There is bright sunshine over the busy polling station at Broadstairs Town Council in South Thanet, Rick Mertens reports.

Local Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, who beat UKIP leader Nigel Farage by a margin of 2,800 votes during the recent general election, was distributing Leave Flyers outside.

He struck an optimistic note:

‘I think we could easily get a clear Leave vote. It’s important that the weather is good in key Leave areas like Thanet, but I certainly hope for some rain in Scotland and London today.”

No electoral returning officer would put a higher priority on speed than accuracy.
But if you can have both — plus lots of national media coverage and positive attention — what’s not to like?

In recent years Sunderland city council has put in a highly impressive performance on election nights thanks to rigorous pre-planning, careful recruitment, and sheer numbers of volunteers: human chains of students passing ballot boxes along the line, teams of fast runners and crack ballot paper counters.

Now, near neighbour and traditional rival Newcastle is joining in, reports Chris Tighe. Although a spokesman for the city’s council stresses: “It’s not a competition, it’s about getting it right.” However it adds; “We will be one of the first places in the country to declare. Whether that’s before or after Sunderland is irrelevant.”

The results from these two north east cities – both expected by 1.00am and possibly even earlier – will be important barometers for the mood of the nation. Sunderland is thought likely to back Leave, despite the presence of the huge export-orientated Nissan car plant near the city — while Newcastle, a more cosmopolitan place with a highly diverse population, is regarded as more of a bellwether for the eventual national outcome.

It looks like the Polish foreign minister is the latest European leader to warn about Brexit today.

FT central Europe correspondent Henry Foy reports that Witold Waszczykowski said the Eurozone would “dominate” Poland if the UK leaves the EU.

“That is a bad scenario for Poland,” the minister said, adding, “I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying that the result of the referendum is positive for Europe and for Poland, that Britain remains with us.”

More from the UK’s electoral commission; follows incidents in last year’s general election when some voters were locked out of polling stations as they closed:

On a bus in South Thanet, where Ukip leader Nigel Farage failed to be elected as an MP in last year’s General Election, the FT’s Rick Merten met older voters who were worried about immigration.

“This used to be a lovely country,” said Audrey Davis, who is retired. “But now there is just too many people coming in. It’s got to stop, it can’t go on!”

One woman sitting next to her agreed, saying: “How many are we now? 60 million? There is too many people coming in and taking out of the pot without taking in!”

Official statistics released this morning showed that the UK population has hit a record high of 65.1m.

Sterling has surged to its highest levels since late December, the FT’s markets team reports.

At mid-morning in London, the pound had risen 1.6 per cent to a peak of $1.4931, having strengthened from an intraday low of $1.4013 a week ago, a gain since then of more than 6 per cent. The pound was 0.6 per cent firmer versus the euro.

You can read their full report here.

Away from the Bildzeitung love-in and the offer to finally recognise that goal, German chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated her desire for the UK to remain in the EU.

“We would like the citizens…to decide that Great Britain remains a member of the European Union,” she said.

However, she also spoke extensively about the refugee crisis and warned of the coming inflow of migrants from Africa, reports Stefan Wagstyl.

Together with Austrian chancellor Christian Kern, who is visiting Berlin, she emphasised the importance of “solidarity” in the EU, including in the “fairer distribution” of refugees.

Over on fastFT the team is tracking the pound’s gains today.

An important factor in the referendum outcome in Northern Ireland could be the somewhat ambivalent stance of the Democratic Unionist party on the issue, reports Vincent Boland.

The DUP is the province’s biggest political bloc and the only mainstream party advocating a vote to leave the EU. As party leader Arlene Foster puts it, the DUP “has always been a eurosceptic party.”

But Ms Foster, who is also Northern Ireland’s first minister, has not campaigned openly for the Leave side. She has left the advocacy to DUP MPs based at Westminster, while the party’s sizeable cohort of members of Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly have been relatively silent.

This stance has meant the referendum debate across the province has been much more low-key than in Britain – and, indeed, in Dublin, where political leaders have made no secret of their wish to see the UK remain in the EU.

As several political analysts explained to the FT recently, by keeping a low profile on the big question of the day, Ms Foster can claim to be on the right side of history in the event of a Leave result, but she will not be too exposed if the Remain side wins.

FT capital markets reporter Thomas Hale points out that UK bank shares are arguably one of the most-important gauges of market sentiment on polling today — and they are rallying.

Barclays is up 2.4 per cent, RBS has gained 2.7 per cent and Lloyds has risen by 1.3 per cent. All have outperformed the FTSE 100, which is up 1.2 per cent and hit a 2-month high.

Banks are seen as especially exposed if the country votes to leave the EU, with analysts citing the risk of a weaker currency and falling house prices.

Here is a handy chart from our friends at fastFT.

UK government bonds – a popular haven investment in the run-up to the referendum – are falling out of favour, reports Elaine Moore.

Earlier this month, demand for gilts pushed the UK’s benchmark 10-year borrowing rate to an all-time low of 1.07 per cent as investors worried about the possibility of market turmoil if the UK voted to leave the EU.

Waning demand this week has pushed prices down and yields back up – sending the yield on 10 year gilts to month high of 1.39 per cent today.

And it’s not just bank stocks that are rising.

Our markets team reports that after Tokyo led Asian equities higher with a 1.2 per cent advance, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index is up 1.6 per cent and US index futures suggest the S&P 500 will gain 20 points to 2,105.

UK growth-focused assets are also upbeat. London’s FTSE 100 index is advancing 1.2 per cent to challenge a two-month high as commodity stocks and banks gain ground.

And fastFT reports that Wall Street is also set to join Europe higher today.

After closing lower yesterday, futures suggest the S&P 500 is set to open up 1 per cent, putting the benchmark index back on track towards the record high reached in May.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to advance 0.9 per cent while the Nasdaq Composite is seen to kick off Thursday 1 per cent higher.

Is Brexit just the beginning?

Many European politicians have warned that the UK leaving the EU would lead to a “domino” effect of populist parties calling for their own referendums.

Today, Luca Zaia, president of Italy’s Veneto region and a member of the xenophobic, anti-EU Northern League party, told reporters that whatever the outcome of the UK referendum, Veneto will “go ahead with its decision to call a referendum which would allow greater autonomy” from the rest of Italy.

Zaia said his referendum “should take place in the autumn”, the FT’s Milan correspondent Rachel Sanderson reports.

Bit more colour on that last Ipsos Mori poll. The headline result was 52/48 in favour of remain, but based on likely voters only, the equivalent figure was 51/49 – and 12 per cent say they may change their mind before going to the polling station.

Although immigration remains the top issue for voters, the economy has gained some ground since last week’s poll (which showed Leave ahead by 51:49, or by 53:47 once don’t knows and unlikely-to-votes are excluded). Immigration was one of the most important factors for 32 per cent of respondents – no change from last week – but the economy is now 31 per cent, up 3 points.

Younger Britons are more likely to support staying: 64 per cent of 18-34 year olds and 58 per cent of 35-54 year olds say they will vote Remain, compared with 40% of those aged 55+. A large class divide is also apparent. By region, London and Scotland are most in favour of staying in while the north of England and the Midlands are most in favour of Brexit.

Irrespective of views on the preferred outcome of the referendum, two-thirds of those questioned believe David Cameron was right to call it while a quarter think he was wrong to do so.

Londoners may be water-logged this morning, but in other parts of the country, the sun is shining.

The FT’s Chris Tighe sent in this picture from a polling station in Newcastle.

Add oil to the list of beneficiaries of today’s Brexit-induced relief rally.

Over on fastFT, they’ve noted that oil prices are inching close to $51 a barrel.

Brent crude, the world’s oil benchmark, is trading 91 cents higher, up 1.82 per cent to as high as $50.90 today. The day’s gain puts Brent back up more than 1 per cent for the week.

In Forest Hill, south London, Lisa Pollack reports on an epic journey to vote.
Kay Cutting, a 55-year-old-teacher, is casting her own vote as well as a proxy vote for her daughter who lives in Australia.

She then faced a three hour drive to Worcester to take her other daughter to vote after a requested postal vote was sent to the wrong place.

“I feel that this is even more important than the normal general election because actually I feel very, very strongly about this, whereas when it comes to a general election I’m actually struggling to work out what to do.”

But there was also widespread disillusionment with the conduct of the campaign.
Judy, a 58 year old accountant, said it didn’t give her any of the information she would have liked.

”One person was arguing one point and saying it was this way, somebody else would argue the same point and say it’s another way, so I don’t really feel that I’m any better off from the campaign, knowledge-wise.”

James Papanicolaou, a 27 year old actor, said it had all been “a bit irritating”.

“There was a lot of opinion being passed off as fact and a lot of ‘let’s back this celebrity because they must know what’s going on’ and that’s got nothing to do with it.”

Gold — another popular haven investment in the run-up to today’s referendum — is also under pressure today, the FT’s commodities editor Neil Hume reports.

Bullion surged from $1,200 a troy ounce at the start of the month to $1,315 a week ago, as the polls swung in favour of a Brexit.

Since then the price of gold has rattled off, dipping below $1,260 today. That’s close to the level many analysts expect the metal to trade in the event of a “Remain” vote.

For more on gold and other commodities, check out this handy guide on five things to watch for in the commodities space as voting continues.

Barclays has stopped accepting some foreign exchange orders on its electronic trading platform and is instead transferring them to voice brokers because of increased volatility in currency markets, reports banking editor Martin Arnold.

Barclays said it had stopped accepting new stop-loss foreign exchange orders on its Barx electronic platform from 7am on Thursday, when the polls opened in the UK referendum, and was transferring them to manual voice execution. The change is likely to last until at least Friday.

The bank said: “Our global sales, trading and research teams will be helping clients navigate markets throughout the night and post the EU referendum decision by delivering a normal service for our clients at all times as far as market conditions allow.”

When the Swiss franc unexpectedly appreciated last year, investors suffered heavy losses and some blamed banks for not giving them the best prices on their stop-loss orders on electronic trading platforms.

Separately, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said it modified price fluctuation limits applicable to CME FX futures and CME and CBOT interest rate futures “as a precautionary measure to ensure fair and orderly trading in these products based on the strong likelihood of increased price volatility”.

The CME Group’s “Global Command Center” said the limits would apply until the close of trading on Friday. “An emergency exists, and emergency action is warranted,” it added.

One familiar face who has been noticeably out of the public eye today is former mayor of London Boris Johnson.

It turns out the Vote Leave campaigner is expected to vote at his local polling station in Islington in north London later today, after spending the morning in St Andrews at his daughter’s university graduation.

A Reuters photographer snapped this picture of the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip talking with family members after the graduation.

© Reuters

Riskier sovereign bonds are getting a lift today, the FT’s Joel Lewin reports on fastFT.

Portuguese 10-year yields have dropped 6 basis points today to a two-week low of 3.09 per cent, and are down 40 basis points in just a week. Yields move inversely to prices.

Italian 10-year yields are also touching a two-week low, down 5bps today and down 20bps over the last week.

Up until a week ago, UK and German 10-year debt were enjoying a storming rally that drove yields down to record lows as the “Leave” campaign gathered momentum. But that trend has been reversed as “Remain” gained in the polls.

The sell-off is gathering pace today. Yields on 10-year Gilt have leapt 7bps to a three-week high of 1.38 per cent, up more than 30bps over the last week. Their equivalent maturity Bund yields have climbed 5bps today to a three-week high of 0.10 per cent.

Our economics editor Chris Giles has been on a walking tour of north London as he heads into FT towers office for the overnight shift.

He reports that the polling stations are quieter now after the early morning rush, but there is still a big Remain campaigning presence on the streets.

And in Camden all the posters are for Remain:

The Leave campaign in general is sparse, with just this snapped just south of Kings Cross

In the Somers Town estate near Euston it was unclear whether this was support for the football team – or Brexit.

In Clerkenwell Green, home of the Karl Marx memorial library, no sign
of Bexit campaigners, but yet another Remain street stall.

Highlighting the level of debate in the referendum, the campaigners were trying to persuade a voter that it was wrong to think a leave vote would simultaneously raise wages and lower house prices.

Whatever the outcome, sterling, the yen, the euro and the Swiss franc are likely to be the currencies moving most in the foreign-exchange universe, writes Michael Mackenzie, the FT’s markets editor.

Markets may be open for another two hours in Europe, but looking ahead, here is a checklist from the FT markets team on what to look for across currencies, bonds and equities tomorrow.

The referendum campaign was marked by exaggerated statistics, hyperbolic claims and party infighting. But it also threw up some weird and occasionally wonderful moments, write the FT’s Henry Mance and Joshua Chaffin.

For a bit of light reading, why not check out their round-up of some of the campaign’s more colourful characters and memorable moments?

A number of digital currency start-ups have been forced to shut-down temporarily or impose restrictions on transfers, reports Martin Arnold.

Marta Krupinska, co-founder of cross-border online money transfer start-up Azimo, told the FT that has suspended its service for two days because of Barclays’ withdrawal of electronic FX stop-loss orders.

Barclays earlier decided to suspend the service because of expected volatility around the UK referendum.

Azimo relies on Currency Cloud, a UK-based wholesale digital FX broker, to convert customer orders into 80 different currencies.

But Ms Krupinska said Currency Cloud depended on Barclays electronic FX platform to source it’s currency.

“We wanted to keep operating through this period, but we learnt at 9pm on Tuesday that we would not be able to do this and have since then been scrambling to message our customers and to go on social media to say we are suspending the service,” she said on the sidelines of the Wired Money conference in London.

She said being offline for two days would hit the company’s revenue plans. “We are going to have to keep explaining this.”

Rival digital FX start-ups have also been disrupted by the UK referendum. Transferwise, the UK-based money-transfer operator, said on Tuesday it would impose restrictions on transfers involving pounds beginning at 7am Thursday UK time until Friday when the referendum results are revealed.

No election would be the same without a Twitter trend. For the EU referendum, there is #dogsatpollingstations, showing mournful looking pooches tied up outside while their owners vote. And there is #usepens.

Some Brits are so convinced that the government will try to rig the result that they are refusing to use the standard-issue pencil to mark their ballot paper. The conspiracy theory began during the Scottish independence referendum, notes Sebastian Payne. Adherents believe that some spooky forces – MI5 presumably – will undertake an exercise to rub out the pencilled crosses in order to fix the referendum for “the establishment”. In this case, that would mean changing votes to Remain.

Those clever Brexiters have therefore urged voters to take pens to the polling station to foil this establishment ruse – even at the risk that the ink smudges and invalidates the vote.

Jacqueline Jackson, a particularly enterprising Brexit campaigner (her Twitter bio reads “100% Ukip, the EU is an evil superstate that has no soul”), decided to go down to a polling station in Chichester to dish out pens. But according to Ms Jackson, those naughty Bremainers called in the police and stopped her lending the pens.

One person working in a polling station today told Sarah O’Connor: “There are genuinely lots of people demanding to vote using their own pen – which they are totally allowed to do by the way. And lots calling the office or demanding poll staff acknowledge their right to use a pen.” The Electoral Commission confirmed there is no reason why voters cannot take their own pens to polling stations.

Many of the pencils tied to by string to UK polling booths are supplied by Shaws, a company employing barely a dozen staff in suburban Kent, writes Jonathan Eley. Sarah Smith, elections manager at the company, said there is nothing special about the pencils it supplies. “It’s just a normal HB pencil. Historically, pencils tend to be used because they are more practical – as polling day goes on, they can be sharpened repeatedly whereas pens often run out, smudge or break”. The use of pencils is not a legal requirement.

Shaws was founded by Henry Shaw in 1750 and claims to be one of the oldest businesses in the UK. It is one of a small number of companies specialising in election products and supplies “packs” to local authorities containing signage, booths, pencils and ballot papers. It was acquired earlier this year by Electoral Reform Services, a company that runs ballots for companies and unions and also supplies electoral products to local authorities. The price was not disclosed. “It was a good fit with our core business,” said Simon Hearn, ERS deputy chief executive.

For both companies, today is a quiet day. “Most of the packs would have been shipped by last Friday. Today we’re working on the Nationwide building society AGM,” said Mr Hearn.

French president Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Germany next Tuesday ahead of the next scheduled EU Council meeting, France’s Europe minister said today.

Mr Hollande, who faces a battle to lead his Socialist party in a general election next year, said yesterday that he would “work jointly on how to relaunch the EU” with his German counterpart if the UK votes to leave the EU.

France’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament yesterday that the two nations “will have to take initiatives to bring hope back for European people”.

Chancellor Merkel, meanwhile, was asked at a press conference today whether she would convene a meeting of the six founding nations of the EU (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany) in the event of Brexit.

She said no, adding she saw no point in so-called “sub-groups”, according to the FT’s Berlin correspondent Stefan Wagstyl.

Sterling is slipping in mid-afternoon trading, paring back some of the storming gains which sent it to levels as high as $1.49 earlier today.

The pound is still 0.6 per cent up on the day, but fell to as low as $1.479 around 3pm (BST).

The FT’s North of England correspondent Andy Bounds has been in Birstall, where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death last week.

The library where Ms Cox was killed is now a polling station, Bounds reports.

Bounds says a steady flow of people came to vote in her memory, and returning officers reported turnout was higher than at last year’s General Election, when Ms Cox was elected MP for Batley & Spen.

Dale, who did not want to give his last name, brought his children to vote and to lay flowers at the memorial to the town’s MP.

“Voting is important to honour her memory,” he said, holding a sign that read #lovelikeJo.

Another voter, David Snee, 44, from nearby Liversedge, said he did not think the death of the prominent “Remain” campaigner had changed the way people in the constituency would vote.

He had met her just once, at an election count.

“She went by, a whirlwind in red,” he said.

Leave.EU has always been the most eccentric of the referendum campaign pack, writes Sarah Gordon.

The non-official group backed by Arron Banks which has strong ties to Ukip was one of two contenders to be designated as the official campaign, and considered a legal challenge to the decision by the Electoral Commission to select the more mainstream Vote Leave.

That hasn’t deterred it though. Bankrolled by Mr Banks – but having garnered significant support from other donors – it has continued campaigning.

Perhaps its most notable output is “Brexit: the movie” which has been viewed by more than 1.5m on YouTube.

Those wanting to see how its supporters will react to tonight’s results announcements have been invited along to its Brexit party this evening – which promises to be in its usual style.

The attractions on offer include Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, who will make his first appearance at the party after the polls close at 10pm.

If that isn’t enough of a draw, a series of entertainers have been laid on, although they cannot exactly be described as household names: Kenny Thomas kicks off the proceedings, followed by Gwen Dickey, Ray Lewis and Alexander O’Neal.

Some are, to put it kindly, of a certain age – perhaps reflecting the fact that Brexit appears to get more support from older generations.

If that doesn’t grab your fancy, at least Leave.EU are being jollier than their compadres in the official out campaign, Vote Leave. A spokesman dourly told me that they weren’t going to have a party because they would “all be working too hard”.

And Leave.EU are certainly being friendlier and more inclusive than the remainers.

Although Britain Stronger in Europe, the official remain campaign, is laying on a party (reportedly) at the Festival Hall, this is “for supporters and campaign workers only” the campaign told me, so no riff raff – like journalists – allowed.

Kenny Thomas it is then.

The FT’s Elaine Moore reports that emerging markets are also enjoying a lift amid a general rally in riskier global assets today.

EM stocks are up for the fifth consecutive day according to MSCI, currencies tracked by JPMorgan are at a month high against the US dollar while the average rate of borrowing has fallen to 5.6 per cent, down from 5.75 per cent last week.

If the UK voted to leave the EU, investors expect to see a spike in market volatility and a move to safe assets that could weigh on emerging markets that rely heavily on external financing.

First sterling, now stocks.

The FT’s Bryce Elder reports that like the pound, UK equities have also pared back earlier gains this afternoon, with the FTSE 100 erasing its early session advance of as much as 1.9 per cent to stand just 0.3 per cent higher going into the last hour of trading.

It looks like #usepens is not the only conspiracy theory circulating in some parts of the country.

The FT’s Andy Bounds says several people he spoke to in West Yorkshire said that Prime Minister David Cameron had “rigged the election.”

Leaving a polling station in the working class area of Dalton, Huddersfield, one lady shouted to another: “It’s a fix anyhow.”

“We are just ordinary people. They are just going to ignore us,” said one voter there, who gave his name just as Mr Moore. “Cameron is going to look after his back.”

Another voter in Batley claimed that big corporations would conspire to keep Britain in.

“It will happen when they transfer the votes from the local to the national count,” they said. “Someone will change the numbers – it just takes one person.”

Many voters had little positive to say about politicians.

“They are all as bad as each other,” said David Spivey, who was undecided.

Since rocketing to a record high this morning, the cost of protecting against swings in sterling has dropped sharply, writes Joel Lewin on fastFT.

Overnight implied sterling volatility, reflecting the theoretical price of insuring against swings in the pound versus the dollar, has dropped to 63.3 per cent, down from an all-time high of 119.7 per cent hit earlier this morning.

That is still exceptionally high (it only briefly topped that at the peak of the financial crisis, when it hit 67.95 in 2008), but the sharp decline reflects increasing confidence in the financial markets of a ‘Remain’ vote winning out in today’s EU referendum.

The pound itself is still up handily on the day against the dollar, although it has retreated from its earlier highs.

A reminder that the Brexit vote is having ramifications beyond these shores from Sarah Gordon.

Research from the European Council on Foreign Relations that “insurgent” political parties see referenda as a “weapon of choice” to challenge the traditional political elites and are being inspired by the UK vote.

The ECFR analysed the foreign policy views of 45 insurgent parties from the far left to the far right, ranging from Germany’s leftist Die Linke to the anti-immigrant Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary.

Thirty-two popular referenda, the research says, have been called for across the region, not just on their country’s membership of the EU but on specific policy issues such as refugee relocation quotas.

It warns that that the growing pressure for popular referenda could hamstring key European decision-making bodies.

Twenty-eight of the 45 parties thought that a Brexit vote in the UK would trigger EU disintegration – with a majority believing that would be a good outcome.

Thirty-six parties opposed the EU-Turkey deal on the refugee crisis, and 23 opposed co-operation with Turkey on the war in Syria.

For 36 out of the 45 parties, the refugee crisis or the threat of terrorism and radical Islamism represented the top or top two priorities for the EU.

This response was not the preserve of the right wing, but spanned Die Linke in Germany; the French Communist Party, Podemos in Spain, and the Lithuanian Labour Party.

“Many of these insurgent parties have views on foreign policy that are closer to President Putin than President Obama,” said Mark Leonard, ECFR director.

“We can’t dismiss them as fringe parties – they represent a revolution in European foreign policy.”

If you are sick of the repetitive sloganeering of much of the EU referendum campaign, it may not surprise you to learn that a good chunk of the social media activity around Brexit topics was generated by robots.

A paper by Philip Howard at Oxford University and Bence Kollanyi of the Corvinus University of Budapest estimates that less than 1 per cent of the Twitter accounts it sampled gave rise to 30 per cent of the messages generated – and many of the most active accounts are likely to be automated or semi-automated. “Bots” deployed by Remain campaigners generated mostly retweets, while Leave campaigners used them to reinforce key hashtags.

“It is difficult to say how much public opinion is shaped by political discourse on this topic over social media or what the influence of bots is on public sentiment” they said. “Nevertheless, we can identify the role that bot algorithms play in political communication around StrongerIn/Brexit issues.”

The academics analysed over 1.5m tweets from over 300,000 user accounts over the course of a week in early June. The paper is here (external site).

The FT’s Paris correspondent Michael Stothard has found pro-Remain campaigners in an unexpected place – the Place de la Bastille.

Stothard reports from a protest against the French government’s plan to liberalise laws, where PhD student Barbera Gomes (left) says she wants a “Europe that stays together”.

“Even if the UK does not always agree with France, we will be stronger
together,” she said, adding, “”The economic arguments [for Brexit] don’t make sense either. Immigrants are good for the economy. It’s crazy to try and
keep them out.”

The FT’s Mark Odell has ventured to a relatively quiet polling station in Buckhurst Hill, a leafy suburban Essex commuter town just outside of London. Before boundary changes in 1974, the area was part of Sir Winston Churchill’s constituency.

None of the officials would say how turnout compared to the General Election in May last year. One explained the “set up had been different” with more of them on duty today, adding: “We’re not really meant to comment.”

Buckhurst Hill lies on the northern border of Greater London at the end of the Underground network. Its most recent claim to fame is that it is part of core “Towie” country, with the town regularly featured in the popular reality TV show “The Only Way is Essex”.

It lies in the constituency of Epping Forest, a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1974. The incumbent, Elaenor Laing, is deputy leader of the House of Commons and had kept quiet during the referendum campaign until this morning. In move that will come as little surprise the MP told the local paper – the Epping Forest Guardian – that she was backing Leave.

Those who think the EU referendum is really all about deciding who should lead the Tory party, take note…William Hill has cut the odds on Theresa May becoming the next leader from 6/1 to 3/1. Boris Johnson remains favourite at 11/4.

Also coming up quickly in the betting is Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Tories in Scotland. Odds for Ms Davidson, who impressed in the penultimate television debate, are cut from 33/1 to 16/1.

David Cameron has already said he will step down before the next general election in 2020.

It’s not just in sterling and stocks where the markets have been active today, Thomas Hale reports.

Some of the riskiest debt sold by UK banks has also risen, in a further sign of the bullish mood in the market after the latest opinion polls.

So-called “coco bonds”, which take losses when banks run into trouble, fell dramatically earlier this year. But the instruments, which frequently move in tandem with equities, have had a good week in the UK.

A £1bn Barclays bond has added 0.74 per cent today to reach 96.3 pence on the pound. It is up a whopping 5.4 per cent over the week, and is now trading at its highest level since late January.

Cocos sold by Lloyds and RBS have also risen this week.

The bonds form part of post-crisis regulation, which aims to avoid taxpayer bailouts of banks and instead transfer risk to investors, in return for high yields. They are exposed when a bank takes losses that dramatically weaken its capital position.

Analysts have warned that if a vote for Brexit hit house prices, for example, that could impact bank balance sheets.

Some of those polling station signs we’re seeing today have been around since before we were born, according to this disarmingly interesting blog:

UK stocks rebounded in the last hour of London trading, with the FTSE 100 closing 1.2 per cent higher at 6,338.1.

The blue-chip benchmark had hit a two-month high in early trade, then cut its day’s gain to just 0.3 per cent by midafternoon. Sterling was also on a rollercoaster, rising 0.8 per cent against the dollar to $1.4818 by the London equity market close having fallen to as low as $1.4699 an hour or so earlier.

Economic arguments about the dangers of Brexit may have failed to make an impact on some voters but economics still matters when people go to the polls. Two leading labour market analysts have had a look at the areas that voted for UKIP in the 2015 general election, Sarah Neville reports today. They found a statistically significant link with those areas where wages have stagnated since 1997.

Pointing out that, in some areas, an entire generation had lost out on wage growth, Prof Machin said warnings of the economic peril of Brexit “may seem less convincing to people who have not seen any of the prior gains” even though those areas have the most to lose from Britain leaving the EU.

The FT’s chief political correspondent Jim Pickard reports that Vote Leave has been accused of divisive tactics after it sent an email warning supporters about the danger that voters in Scotland and London could vote for In – despite the “heartlands” leaning towards Out.

The email highlights the way that different regions are expected to vote in markedly different patterns. But the In camp criticised the use of the word “heartlands” to describe regions likely to vote Out, such as the East Midlands and North-East.

Chuka Umunna, a Labour MP, said: “Londoners and Scots have as much right to exercise their democratic choice as anyone else. Implying that our votes are somehow less legitimate than those cast in other parts of Britain is utterly disgraceful.”

London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and – probably – Wales are all expected to vote In. So too are the biggest English cities.

The English shires and county towns are expected to deliver for the Out campaign.

The result is also expected to split Britain on demographic grounds with older non-graduates more likely to vote Out and vice-versa.

Lambeth is expecting, reports The FT’s Property Correspondent Judith Evans.

Natasha Heffinck, 33, from Belgium, is due to give birth in a week’s time and could not vote in the referendum, but still turned out in the rain to hand out “I’m in” stickers in Loughborough Junction, south London.

“There are so many reasons to stay in, I couldn’t let the vote pass me by. I am Belgian so this vote has a huge bearing for me and for so many others,” she says.

“I would have preferred if the the campaigns had stuck to facts — that would have been a more honourable way of proceeding.”

Londoners going to vote after work should take their brollies, if the view from the FT economics room is anything to go by…

Isabel Schnabel, professor of financial economics at the University of Bonn, adds her voice to the argument that Britain’s exit would damage the EU.

One such cost would be the political shift within the EU towards more protectionist, more interventionist and less market-friendly forces. This is likely to make it even harder to implement badly needed structural reforms. It would rather strengthen those in favour of expanding public subsidisation, introducing protectionist measures shielding domestic companies from competition, and intervening directly in the markets’ price-setting mechanisms. This could harm not only the growth potential of the remaining EU countries. It would also affect Britain. In attempting to maintain access to the common European market, the UK may even be forced into new regulations, offsetting the new freedoms enjoyed outside the union.

A second threat is that Brexit would set in motion a process of further disintegration. There could be a stronger nationalisation, inducing other countries to consider leaving the EU as well, especially in the presence of strong populist political movements. A complete break-up of the union would not be an impossible outcome. Conversely, there could also be stronger regionalisation, so that secessionist movements within countries in the EU would gain momentum.

If you’re wondering when you’ll hear the referendum results from your area, you can look it up in this handy list from the Press Association. Some of these times are based on councils’ own forecasts; some are based on how long it has taken them to count their votes in previous elections. They are all just estimates, of course, but here are the expected early birds…

…and the ones bringing up the rear…

It’s going to be a big 24 hours for global markets, no matter what the result. If you want to follow the gyrations, the FT’s Elaine Moore and Philip Stafford have this handy guide on which markets to watch when.

How to read the first results? JP Morgan offers a rough guide to expectations in each ward.

That’s from a Brexit cheat sheet put together earlier this week by JP Morgan economist Allan Monks. His projections suggest we may have a handle on the result by around 3.30am.

Here, according to JP Morgan, are the key marginals:

It’s still busy at the Elms Club polling station in Ramsgate, South Thanet, reports FT man-on-the-ground Rick Mertens. Recruitment consultant Anthony Childs predicts an overall remain vote, but feels that most locals will vote out:

“A lot of people will be pissed off tomorrow, but I guess that will be the case all over the country.”

Meanwhile, back in the City of London, the sleeping bags are being rolled out at Barclays in preparation for the all-nighter, according to the FT’s Harriet Agnew. They’re not the only ones pulling out all the stops. Clifford Chance has a “24/7 Brexit rapid response unit”, CME Group has added staff to its “Global Command Centre” and Citigroup has a special playlist.

Citigroup has posted an “EU Referendum Playlist” on its internal portal to get staff in the mood. The line-up features “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (The Clash), “Don’t You Want Me Baby?” (The Human League) and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (Oasis).

While the FTSE 100 may hog the limelight, it’s been the FTSE 250 that’s been outperforming in recent sessions. Thursday’s surge carried the mid-cap index into positive territory for the year to date.

The benchmark’s 250 constituents earn 50 per cent of their revenue from the UK, compared with around 20 per cent for the FTSE 100, according to recent analysis from Credit Suisse.

Not what Londoners who may be heading home to vote after work need to hear. The torrential rains that have hit the capital in the last few hours has brought disruption to many of the Tube lines. Do check your routes home…overground/status/

There’s overground train chaos too in London and the South East, reports the FT’s Conor Sullivan, which has forced some polling stations to close.

The FT’s Caroline Binham reports that Britain’s financial regulators will be keeping a very close eye on London’s banks and brokers over the next few days.

The Financial Conduct Authority has put financial institutions on notice about “potential conduct risks” — including giving some customers preferential treatment as orders stack up in what is expected to be highly volatile markets. In response to the alert, banks have imposed extra restrictions and risk limits for traders in the asset classes they operate in, and warned staff that their conversations will be closely monitored. “The risks around treating customers fairly and market abuse are the same that firms face every day, but any large swings in the market would just magnify those risks,” said Guy Wilkes, a former FCA enforcement official now at the law firm Mayer Brown.

Sorry for the brief pause in blogging: the night team, which is me, Judith Evans and Jim Pickard all got caught out by the transport mayhem caused by the flooding in London. One of our colleauges, Josh Noble, reports the police were on hand at London Bridge train station to calm down angry commuters facing severe delays heading back to the south coast. I saw a lot of commuters on my way in standing around looking at their smart phones around other major hubs, including Bank station and Cannon Street

From our online commodities editor, Emiko Terazono:

As a clearer picture of the UK referendum results emerges, commodity traders will be looking for opportunities in New York, London and Shanghai through the night.

Gold, settled physically, is traded 24 hours around the world, while Comex gold futures traded on the CME in New York.

In Shanghai, gold can be traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange in three sessions – 2am to 4.30 am, 6.30pm to 8am and 2pm to 7.30pm, all London time.

For oil,the international benchmark Brent is traded through ICE between 1:00am to 11.00pm London time while Nymex West Texas International, the US marker, is traded on the CME between 11pm and 10pm UK time.

Here’s an interesting take in the New York Times about the role of Boris Johnson – years ago – in encouraging the public view of the EU as a bloated, ridiculous organisation.

Mr. Johnson, fired from The Times in 1988 for fabricating a quotation, made his name in Brussels not with honest reporting but with extreme euroskepticism, tirelessly attacking, mocking and denigrating the European Union.

Here is the FT’s photo gallery to remind people of some of the key moments in the referendum campaign.

The bookmaker Ladbrokes says it has had its busiest ever day of political betting, with punters placing up to £30,000 each on Remain or Leave.

Remain odds were as short as 1/10 in the morning, but lengthened to 1/6 during the day, while odds on Leave were cut to 4/1 — or a 19 per cent chance of the UK voting for Brexit — from 6/1 earlier in the day.

As in the run-up to today, bets for Leave were more numerous but those for Remain tended to be larger.

Alex Donohue, spokesman for Ladbrokes, said: “The interest in having a bet on the referendum from the public is completely unprecedented… we’re braced to carry on trading long into the small hours of Friday morning.”

Brexit the horse, sadly, fared less well. The two-year-old filly running in the 6.10 at Newbury came in sixth.

The FT’s Mure Dickie reports that Mary Pitcaithly, Scotland’s chief counting officer, is forecasting that Scottish turnout could end up being 70 to 80 per cent or possibly even higher, based on voting activity during the day and postal vote tallies.

Turnout in Scotland’s 2014 referendum on independence from the ‎UK was 85 per cent.

It has been a really rainy polling day in much of the south of England:

© Reuters

And lovely and sunny in other parts of the country, including Carmarthenshire in Wales, where this pub was used as a polling station for the day:

© Reuters

Politicians find themselves in deep water, not for the first time:

Our colleagues, Sarah Gordon and Lilah Raptopoulos have pulled together replies from FT readers, who happened to be top legal experts, on some of the trickier questions that would result from a Brexit

Spare a thought for those stuck at London’s Waterloo station, the capital’s busiest transport hub — especially those who have yet to vote. Hundreds of commuters are trapped there in the weather-related transport chaos, with some tweeting they are concerned about missing the 10pm voting deadline.

Right folks, we are going to close this blog and start a new one to cover the last hour or so of voting and then ease into the coverage of the count and results as they come in overnight. You do not need to go anywhere but please do REFRESH your browser window to switch over to the new blog.