It’s been one of the most dramatic days FactCheck can remember.
Britain has voted to leave the EU, the Prime Minister is going to resign, there’s turbulence in the financial markets and Harry Styles has reportedly signed a solo record deal.
We don’t have much more of a clue than anyone else about what the future holds, but we did learn a few things about Brexit today.
Yes, there was a generation gap…
After the result was announced this morning, the suggestion that older voters had swung it for Leave quickly began to circulate on social media.
Oddly, much of this was based on opinion polls carried out before the vote – the same polls which predicted the wrong result!
But by the afternoon we had some better statistics, courtesy of Conservative peer and pollster Lord Ashcroft.
He surveyed 12,369 people after they voted, asking detailed questions about who they were and why they voted Leave or Remain.
The results confirmed what pollsters have been saying for some time: age was a big predictor of how you voted.
Nearly three quarters of people aged 18 to 24 said they voted to Remain, while over-65s were most likely to vote Leave.
But it wasn’t all about pensioners. A majority of people over 45 also voted Leave.
Britain Stronger in Europe had been urging young people to try to persuade their grandparents to vote In, in a campaign called Talk to Gran. This polling suggests they should have told supporters to Talk to Mum and Dad too.
The Ashcroft polling isn’t perfect. We don’t know how high the voter turnout was among the different age groups, so we can’t really say that the oldest generation won this referendum for Leave. But it’s the best insight we have so far into voter demographics.
As well as age, the research suggests other social divisions between the two sides.
A majority of black and Asian voters, Muslims, people with university degrees, people working full or part-time and people from the professional and managerial class voted Remain.
Most people who were white, not working, claiming the state pension, who described themselves as Christian, who owned their homes outright or lived in council accommodation and who were working class (according to the NRS social grade system) voted Leave.
…but younger voters probably wouldn’t have swung it for Remain
Unlike in the Scottish independence referendum, the franchise was not extended to 16- and 17-year-olds. Would the result have been different if those young people had been allowed to vote? Our best guess is no.
The difference between Leave and Remain was 1,269,501 votes. According to the ONS there are just over 1.5 million people aged 16 and 17 living in this country.
That’s only a rough estimate, and we don’t know how many would have been eligible to vote due to citizenship.
Even if we assume all of those teenagers could have voted, and that turnout among that age group was as high as it was in Scotland (75 per cent), and that every single voter backed Remain, it wouldn’t have been quite enough to change the result.
The future of the United Kingdom is in doubt (again)
Nicola Sturgeon has said that she wants a second independence referendum for Scotland.
This is not unexpected. Scotland’s First Minister has long said Brexit might trigger another indyref, since polling has always suggested that a majority of Scots do not want it.
The majority for Remain north of the border is firmly in line with previous polling. The only slight surprise today was that support for Leave in Northern Ireland was higher than indicated in some surveys.
We looked at the possibility of Scotland getting independence off the back of a Leave vote earlier this year, and noted that the road may turn out to be a long and complicated one.
Irish republican party Sinn Fein have said the EU referendum result should trigger a poll on a united Ireland too, but the Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa Villiers, has said she doesn’t think the criteria have been met for a so-called “border poll”.
The law says a secretary of state can order a vote on unification “if at any time it appears likely… that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”.
London was complicated
Some wag has called for London to become an independent state after the referendum. Obviously this can’t happen, but there is a suggestion that Londoners were frustrated by the vote.
It’s true that across the capital as a whole, 60 per cent voted to stay in the EU. That makes London the only region in England and Wales where there was a Remain majority.
But London was also the most sharply divided region, in the sense that there was the biggest percentage difference in voting in the most pro-Remain and pro-Leave council areas.
In Lambeth, a massive 78.6 per cent voted Remain. That makes the south London borough the most pro-EU area in the UK (only the overseas territory of Gibraltar recorded a higher vote share for Remain).
In fellow London borough Havering, only 30 per cent voted to stay, making it one of the most eurosceptic areas in the country.
No, we don’t send £350m a week to Brussels
That was of course the central numerical claim from Vote Leave. FactCheck, among many others, thought it was misleading to suggest that this sum would be available to spend on other priorities.
Just hours after the result came in, Ukip leader Nigel Farage distanced himself from the £350m claim, which is based on Britain’s gross contribution to the EU budget before the annual rebate, payments back to the UK government and other adjustments.
Mr Farage, who campaigned for Brexit independently of Vote Leave, said it had been a “mistake” for the official campaign group to feature the figure heavily in promotional material, saying: “It wasn’t one of my adverts, I can assure you.”
That’s true, but it’s only fair to point out that Mr Farage has also used the gross figure to talk about the cost of Britain’s membership of the EU, as in this piece for the Daily Express.
He phrased it as “£55m a day”, rather than £350m a week, but the maths is the same.
Mr Farage finally agreed with us this morning that future governments will not be free to spend this amount of money on the NHS or anything else.