46,499,537 people are actually able to vote in this, the third referendum ever held across the United Kingdom. The first referendum approved the final application to join what is now the European Union, the second rejected any changes in the way in which the British vote for MPs and now, this the third will decide, in the words of The Clash ‘Should I stay or should I go?’
Polling stations will be open until 10pm BST and the ballot boxes will be sent to local government officers and volunteers for counting during the night in more than 380 centres throughout the UK. Luckily, despite the vitriolic rhetoric that has flown from speakers on both sides, no-one has yet suggested that the Joseph Stalin master class on voting -“It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.”- is likely to influence the result.
Having said that, there are a number of people who don’t quite trust the system, which only supplies pencils at polling stations, and those who possibly fear the improper use of a rubber by an over-zealous, and possibly biased, counting clerk, are bringing ink pens with them to use when they vote.
As each counting station completes its count then there will be an announcement of area results and there will also be an announcement from Gibraltar on how many of its population voted to remain as the actual result there is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Perhaps not surprisingly for a country obsessed by the weather, it does appear that rain could well have a major effect on voters as many will not wish to battle through stormy weather which is hitting parts of the British isles and some cynics are forecasting that if voters are wet and miserable then they might vote to leave simply because they are in a bad mood.
Europe watches with baited breath, the Italians are worried that in the event of an exit and a drop in the value of the pound, they will be left with a Prosecco lake as their biggest customer stops purchasing, and the German newspaper Bild has even offered to reserve sunbeds for the Brits if they vote to remain.
It is all too close to call although, as the day progresses, exit polls may be difficult to publicise as, unlike a general election where polls are less likely to influence voters across the country, with this simple In or Out referendum, both sides will be worried that any poll that is published showing a heavy majority for one side might cause voters in other areas to follow.
All of the main protagonists on each side were early in placing their votes and time will now tell as to the future of Britain and the British.