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Here Are The Winners And The Losers Of The EU Referendum

Winners include Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and older voters. Losers include the prime minister, Jeremy Corbyn, and pollsters.

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Winner: Nigel Farage

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Nigel Farage has the victory he's dedicated his entire political career to: securing the UK's exit from the European Union. A man who has stood for parliament seven times without ever getting elected has become arguably Britain's most successful politician in a generation.

Farage, who has led UKIP for most of the last decade, has seen his party rise to around 13% of the national vote, and despite conceding the referendum result early in the evening, un-conceding, re-conceding, and un-conceding again, has found himself on the winning side of the vote.

Expect Farage to be a vocal contributor from the sidelines of the UK's exit negotiations – if the UK looks likely to make concessions such as joining the EEC (Europe's free trade area) without major exceptions to its usual rules, he'll publicly cry betrayal. Farage wants a full Brexit vote, with full freedom from EU rules. Anything less than that and we'll hear about it.

One ironic turn to Farage's day of glory: He's voted himself out of a job. Farage is a sitting member of the European parliament – and Britain will lose its MEPs once it leaves Europe.

Loser: David Cameron

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This is not the political legacy David Cameron wanted. The prime minister conceded a referendum to help keep control of his Eurosceptic backbench MPs, confident that it would be unlikely to happen if he was in a coalition government, and confident that even if the vote did occur he could easily win it.

He lost.

Cameron's resignation was virtually inevitable as soon as the UK voted to leave. He'll serve for up to three months as caretaker, but he will be remembered as the prime minister who led his country out of Europe, against his will.

Furthermore, if the exit vote causes even a fraction of the economic damage Cameron warned it would, Brexit could simultaneously destroy Cameron's legacy of restoring Britain's economy after the financial crisis.

Winner: Michael Gove

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Michael Gove, the justice secretary, was a surprise supporter of Leave as he has always been a close political ally (and friend) of David Cameron, but opted to place his support for the Brexit cause ahead of his personal loyalty to the prime minister.

Gove has been seen to have had a good campaign, and is seen as a likely kingmaker in the Conservative party – he will have a huge say in choosing the next Conservative leader, assuming he doesn't run for the role himself.

Gove is also very likely to be one of the key members of Britain's team negotiating how the country leaves the EU.

Loser: George Osborne

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George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, was one of the Remain campaign's chief architects and champions. He turned the full resources of the Treasury towards producing material to support Remain's case, and was one of the campaign's most prominent spokesmen.

When the result looked close a week before the result, Osborne essentially threw away his chances of becoming the next party leader by issuing an "emergency Budget" for a post-Brexit Britain, packed with unpopular tax rises and cuts to health and education.

Now Britain has voted to leave, Osborne's political prospects look dim – his remaining time in the Treasury could be very brief indeed.

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Winner: Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, has been one of the most popular and trusted politicians throughout the EU referendum debate – despite declaring his support for Leave having previously warned of the risks of leaving the EU.

With Leave having secured the victory, Johnson's prospects of succeeding David Cameron as Conservative party leader – and thus as prime minister – are stronger than ever. Johnson is favourite to take the role.

Loser: Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn was until recently a professed Eurosceptic who said he'd consider campaigning for Brexit when he ran for the Labour leadership, and many within his party suspect he will be privately glad at the referendum result.

However, Corbyn publicly supported and campaigned for a Remain vote, as did the overwhelming majority of his MPs, and virtually all of the trade unions that make up his party's core support.

With lots of Labour heartland areas backing Brexit, Corbyn will likely face accusations of losing grip on the party's core support, and not doing enough to boost the Remain case. For a leader already unpopular with many of his MPs, this will make for a rocky period.

Winners: older voters

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The EU referendum was a generational battle: Every poll consistently showed the overwhelming majority of over-65s supported Leave, while younger voters overwhelmingly supported Remain.

It's the older voters who have won the day – in large part because they are far more likely to turn out than their younger counterparts. The Remain campaign tried everything it could to change the mind of older voters, including a "Talk to Gran" effort encouraging young voters to change their parents' and grandparents' minds.

As the referendum result shows, this didn't work.

Loser: the pound

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Britain's currency is taking a beating in international markets as panic about the consequences of Brexit kicks in. After briefly rising to $1.50 at 10pm – when polling suggested Remain would win the day – sterling has plummeted to its lowest level in 31 years, dropping to $1.35.

The drop is the most dramatic one-day fall in living memory, and signals a day of market turmoil ahead in both UK and global stock markets.

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Winner: Arron Banks

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Multimillionaire businessman Arron Banks is the founder of the "unofficial" Leave campaign, Leave.EU, and also UKIP's top donor. Most UK business figures supported Remain – more than 1,200 signed an eve-of-polling letter in support of staying in the EU – but iconoclastic Banks bankrolled much of the Leave effort, and has been successful.

Losers: experts (especially pollsters)

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Almost every expert association conceivable encouraged the UK to vote for Remain. The World Bank, IMF, OECD, and more warned leaving the EU would damage the UK economy. A dozen Nobel laureates warned a vote for Leave would damage UK science. World leaders of the UK's allies – including President Obama – implored UK voters to stay. The UK's business leaders urged their employees to vote Remain.

The UK voted Leave.

The group of experts feeling worst today, though, will be the UK's polling industry, which had barely recovered from getting 2015's general election badly wrong. Almost every pollster predicted a Remain win, as did YouGov's on-the-day poll. Once again, polling companies will have a lot of explaining to do.

Winners: English and Welsh voters

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The overall result of the EU referendum is relatively close, but this close total hides a very polarised result: Most areas of England and Wales voted for Leave by substantial margins – often by 30 points or more in North East England and Yorkshire.

It's voters in these areas of England (with the exception of a few cities) that have got their way. They overwhelmingly wanted Brexit, and they've got it.

Losers: voters in Scotland and London

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If English and Welsh voters are the winners of the EU referendum, it's Scottish and London voters who are the losers.

Scotland voted for Remain by a huge margin of around 30 points, with not a single area in the country backing Brexit. The sharp contrast in the English and Scottish votes is likely to reopen questions of Scottish independence – though voters may be feeling referendum fatigue.

Similarly, London generally voted for Remain and in many cases by huge margins – central London areas such as Islington voted to stay in Europe by a margin of 50 points or so.

London has often faced accusations of being isolated from the rest of the country. The EU referendum has made that divide clearer perhaps than ever before.

James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here

Contact James Ball at James.Ball@buzzfeed.com.

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