Britain votes in divisive EU referendum

Britain votes in divisive EU referendum

Polls have opened in a historic referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union or leave. Polling stations opened at 07:00 BST and will close at 22:00 BST.

An estimated 46,499,537 people are entitled to take part in the vote - a record number for a UK poll, BBC reports.

The referendum ballot paper asks the following question: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won.

After the referendum polls close, sealed ballot boxes will be collected and transported to the count venue for each of the 382 local counting areas. These represent all 380 local government areas in England, Scotland and Wales, plus one each for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

The voting was preceded by an extensive media campaign of both opponents and supporters of Brexit. According to opponents, the UK's secession will lead to chaos on the global markets, will damage London's status as one of the financial centers, will damage trade relations between the UK and other EU member states and will result in significant growth of unemployment and depreciation of the national currency.

In turn, Eurosceptics believe that by remaining a part of the EU, the country will lose significant share of sovereignty, leaving adoption of important decisions to Brussels. Besides London also has to pay for the membership. According to media reports, in 2015 it cost the British budget 8.5 billion pounds (about $12.5 billion). In addition, Eurosceptics believe that Brexit will allow London to deal with the migration crisis, thus increasing the level of security.