UK law prohibits discussing an election while polls are open. The Daily Parker, being an American publication, isn't subject to this rule, but I decided this morning not to flout it anyway because I'm going to be in the UK tomorrow evening.
Polls closed 20 minutes ago in an historic referendum to decide whether the UK should remain within the European Union (my belief) or leave it. Here's what people are saying.
First, the Guardian, my go-to source for breaking British news:
Long queues have been reported outside some polling stations as voters cast their ballots in Britain’s closely fought EU referendum.
In London and parts of the south-east many were forced to brave torrential rain and navigated flooded streets to have their say.
The latest Ipsos Mori phone poll, completed in the days before the referendum, gave remain a four-point lead on 52% to leave on 48%. So far all the final phone polls have shown remain in the lead, while all but one of the final online polls have given the lead to leave.
Some polling stations were forced to close and relocate as the equivalent of one month’s rain fell overnight in the capital.
Finian O'Toole, writing for the Irish Times, wonders if the English are ready for self-government:
Brexit is essentially Exit: if the Leave side wins the referendum it will almost certainly be without securing majorities in Scotland or Northern Ireland. For all the talk of reasserting the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, the desire to leave the European Union is driven above all by the rise of English nationalism.
And the chief consequence of Brexit will be the emergence of England as a stand-alone nation. Whatever entity might eventually emerge from a tumultuous breach with the European Union will almost certainly not, in the long term, include Scotland: a second referendum on Scottish independence will be inevitable, and this time Scots would be voting to stay in the EU.
It may or may not include Wales. (A resurgence of Welsh nationalism in reaction to the rise of English nationalism seems possible.)
And its relationship to Northern Ireland will be increasingly tenuous and fraught: if nothing else the Brexit campaign has made it abundantly clear that what happens to the North scarcely merits an English afterthought. The kingdom founded by Boris I will, in time, come to be bounded by the English Channel and the River Tweed.
The Scotland/England divide also cuts both ways. If the U.K. as a whole swings towards Remain, many English Brexiteers may feel that it is Scots in turn who are twisting their arms. Independence aspirations could ultimately still lead one day to Scotland breaking away as a separate state, leaving the remaining parts of the U.K. “stuck” within an E.U. that a narrow majority had voted against. That’s not a possibility the pro-Leave camp would accept with any relish. Indeed, part of the Leave camp (though far from all) are motivated by a form of nationalism that is morphing from British to English, populated with people frustrated that Scottish MPs can vote on some issues affecting England while, due to its devolved parliament, Scotland can make similar decisions for themselves independently.
By laying bare these fault lines, both Leave and Remain results in a referendum could imply a threat to the future unity of the United Kingdom. Not as an instant axe-fall severing the country’s parts come Friday, of course, but as a steady polarization which may end up making such unity untenable.
Closer to home, the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal likens the vote to Downstate Illinois kicking out Chicago:
Given the way some Illinois politicians try to drive a wedge between north and south, it doesn't take much imagination to envision people Downstate who might want to vote to cut ties with Chicago.
Maybe they don't want to pay for Chicago's financial mistakes. Perhaps they feel little in common with its denizens. They could be appalled by the city's crime and corruption.
At this point, ignoring arguments that the state is served by greater size, diversity and economic might, they may simply want their independence and believe the benefits are worth whatever a less-than-amicable divorce might cost.
Meanwhile, as of 22:30 BST, counting millions of paper ballots has comenced in the UK. I'll be watching.