Triumph and tears – Britain pivots on Brexit vote

As the UK voted to leave the EU, Miles Casey spoke to people who had gathered outside Manchester Town Hall to hear the final declaration of the 52/48 percent result of the 2016 Referendum. People's views seem to reflect the fact that while Manchester had voted firmly in favour of remaining in the EU, the North West as a whole backed Brexit.

A cloud of uncertainty hung over the city as Mancunians began to process the result of the Brexit Referendum. With the British electorate voting for Britain to leave the European Union, with 52% of the vote, the start of a new journey into the unknown has begun.

The mood of the city was mixed. Some were joyous, revelling in the fact Britain had voted to leave the EU, citing an “end to the brutality” of the EU.

"I'm so happy," said Dan Bollard as he and a group of friends stood outside the Town Hall just after 7am.

As a Vote Leave supporter, Dan had spent the whole of Thursday night and the early part of Friday morning watching the rollercoaster of results swing from predictions of a Remain win, to a decisive majority for Brexit by the early hours.

"It's the end of something brutal.

"I know the Pound's dropped, but it'll recover. We'll sort ourselves out and we'll be fine.

"We'll be fine."

Most, however, had a much bleaker attitude to the result.

Nick Bennet's parents are originally from Russia. He said the referendum vote sends the wrong signal to Europe and the rest of the world: "We should have stayed in the EU.

"My parents came from Russia, not to live on benefits, they started their own business and became successful.

"Today, this is going to stop a lot of ambitious people, hard workers, coming to England and actually trying to achieve something.

"A lot of businesses that are based on working with international suppliers are going to go bust… it's going to create massive unemployment in the short term."

Some of those we spoke to had come to the Town Hall expecting there to be a public announement, perhaps from the front steps of the historic building. Others watched the final declaration on their phones or asked other media workers about the count as they emerged onto the street from the press enclosure.

Those who pledged their allegiance to the European Union did not have an optimistic view for the future of Britain. A look of shock and disbelief draped across their faces, stark contrast to those celebrating what has been dubbed an “independence day” for Great Britain.

Corin Gardner, a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is visiting Manchester and said she had been following the final days of campaigning closely.

"It's fascinating and very pivotal for the country and internationally. It's huge.

"It's really pivotal to see how this decision affects the economy of Britain and around the world."

While 52% of Britain voted to Leave, 60.4% of Mancunians voted the other way.

This was a cross-country trend. Large, metropolitan cities, such as London (59.9% Remain) and Liverpool (58.2% Remain) made clear that they wanted to remain a part of the European Union. Smaller towns and boroughs in the North West, however, voted to Leave by similarly large margins. 63.9% of those in Wigan voted to Leave, as did 58.3% of those in Bolton, 56.8% of those in Salford, and 54.1% of those in Bury.  

Another striking dividing line was the generational one. 64% of those under 25 voted to Remain, while 58% of those over 65 voted to Leave.

The Referendum yielded one of the highest voter turn-outs in recent history: 72.2% of the electorate turned up to cast their vote on Thursday. This kind of turnout has not been seen since the 1992 General Election (77.7%). While the country may be divided in opinion, it is encouraging to see the level of engagement in British politics soar to such levels, especially following the abysmally poor turnout for local elections (29% for Manchester and its boroughs).

Despite the objectionable campaign from both sides, the British people have made their voices heard.

While it seems certain that Britain is leaving the European Union, it is far less clear what the future holds for an independent Britain.

Watch our video report from outside the declaration here:

EU result – Miles Casey reports from Manchester Town Hall from Northern Quota on Vimeo.