The UK’s EU referendum is proving close but the Remain campaign appears to be failing to pick up enough support outside London to win.
At 03:45 BST Leave were ahead by over 500,000 votes, with the English shires and Wales voting strongly for Brexit.
UKIP’s Nigel Farage said: “Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.”
The pound surged as polls closed before falling to its lowest level since 1985, on signs of a Leave victory.
Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to have opted for Remain and London has voted emphatically to stay in the EU.
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Unlike at a general election the results in individual areas do not count – it is the overall number of votes cast for one side or the other across the country that will determine whether the UK leaves the European Union.
Polling expert Prof John Curtice said there was still a while to go but at this stage Leave were “undoubtedly the favourites” to win the referendum. He estimates that the finishing post for one side to win is 16,813,000 votes.\
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who at the start of the night predicted that Remain might “edge” a win, told supporters: “Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.”
At a Brexit party, he told supporters: “If the predictions are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, and a victory for decent people.”
“Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.”
He also suggested the prime minister should resign “immediately” if the UK votes to leave the EU.
Conservative Remain campaigner Justine Greening told the BBC: “It’s way too early in the night to be calling it one way or another” but Labour’s Chuka Umunna said, looking at the results so far “it’s not looking promising for Remain”.
Jenny Watson, the Electoral Commission’s chief counting officer, will announce the referendum result at Manchester Town Hall after all 382 local totals have been certified and declared.
According to Prof Curtice, the Remain vote is about 10% short of what was expected in north-east England and although Remain is ahead in Scotland, turnout is lower than in the rest of the UK.
Wales appears to be backing Brexit, with a vote of 54.7% for Leave so far.