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EU Referendum: fact sheet

When will we know the result?

The official result will be declared at Manchester Town Hall at “breakfast time” (according to the Electoral Commission) on Friday 24th June. However, with the count starting when polls close at 10pm, we should have a fairly clear view of the outcome between 4am and 5am.

How will the result be counted?

Across the UK, votes will be counted across 382 counting areas – one for each local government area in Great Britain, and one each for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. The Electoral Commission estimates that results will be declared at the earliest from 12.30am, to the latest at 7am. Most results are anticipated to be announced around 4am.

Local results will be collated at 12 regional centres with each Regional Counting Officer making a declaration of the regional total. Once all regions have made their declarations, the Chief Counting Officer will announce the official result in Manchester (anticipated around 7am).

How will the Prime Minister respond?

Once the result has been declared, the Prime Minister is expected to speak from the steps of Downing Street, whatever the result, setting out the Government’s position.

In a Remain scenario, the PM will need to reassert his authority and has plans to make a number of key decisions and announcements from his life chances strategy to airport capacity in the days after the 24th.

In a Brexit scenario, Cameron has said he will stay and carry out the will of the British people. Vote Leave has also called for the PM to stay to oversee the process and start of negotiations.

Whatever happens, the Prime Minister will be required to attend the EU Council meeting on the 28th June in Brussels. An update from the UK is already pencilled in on the agenda.

If the UK votes to leave, will the PM resign?

The PM has been clear on his intention to stay in Downing Street whatever the result. The political reality however is far from certain. Many believe Cameron’s career (and legacy) is on the line and his position would be untenable. The ultimate question for both Cameron and his backbench MPs (the vast majority of which will be voting out) is: to what extent can the Prime Minister negotiate an exit from the EU when he fundamentally disagrees with doing so?

Expert analysis on what happens next if Britain votes to leave can be found here.

Could MPs block an EU exit following a result to Leave?

Legally, yes. Politically, no.

The result of the referendum is not legally binding – only advisory – due to the concept of Parliamentary sovereignty and the absence of a codified constitution within the UK.

The result, however, will be politically binding. It will set the course of action for future Governments. Cameron himself has declared that there will be “no turning back” if Britain votes to Leave and it would represent an “irreversible step”.

How long would it take for Britain to leave the EU?

The official process, through invoking Article 50 as set out under the Lisbon Treaty, would take two years. A vote to Leave does not automatically trigger that process and the Government has control over when to commence a withdrawal.

The reality therefore is that it would take years of discussions and negotiations to put in place new laws and to remove the UK fully from the EU. The Vote Leave campaign expects UK to have withdrawn by the end of 2019.

Can the UK stop the process of withdrawal?

No. Article 50 offers no mechanism to withdraw a notification of intent to leave.

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