British Media Stunned By Surprise Brexit Vote


The U.K. voted to leave the European Union in a historic referendum that was met with a mixture of shock, elation and borderline despair.

British media reacted with a mix of shock, surprise and, depending on the outlet, elation after the results of the historic Brexit vote came in, confirming that Britain has chosen to leave the European Union.

Most newspapers had predicted a remain decision by the time the first runs had gone to the printers, but swiftly changed their headlines online as the results came in

"We're Out!" screamed the headline of the pro-Brexit Daily Mail, which, like many papers, put a picture of a celebrating Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, on its front page. "Oop Yours" was the line from the Telegraph, a play on the accents of Northern Britain, whose voters were key in the Brexit success. 

Speaking at the Cannes Lions conference on Friday, David Dinsmore, Chief Operating Officer of Rupert Murdoch-controlled News UK, called the vote a “victory of the popular press,” noting that publications such as The Sun, The Mail and The Telegraph all backed the Brexit vote.

“That played into it and set the tone,” Dinsmore said. “It’s a mass feather in the cap of the the press.”

The pro-EU Guardian went for the more plain and sober "Britain Votes for Brexit" but quoted Farage, who called the result "a victory for ordinary people."

TV news outlets BBC and Sky News aired wall-to-wall coverage of the referendum as the results came in. After the polls closed, both had suggested the swing was toward staying in the EU, but outlined their shock when the figures went the other way. Sky News is part of pan-European pay TV giant Sky, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has a stake. Murdoch's British publications The Sun and The Times had been pro-leaving the EU.

Amid the celebrations were warnings, however, as the British media pointed to the economic upheaval that has accompanied the surprise decision.

The British pound tumbled against the dollar and the euro as results came in, falling to its lowest level in 31 years, and investment banks, which had hedged heavily in favor of Britain remaining, quickly switched their positions. The London Stock Exchange is expected to open sharply down on Friday.

Britain will be the first country to leave the EU since its formation — but a leave vote will not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc. 

That process could take a minimum of two years, and may not be completed until 2020 — the date of the next scheduled general election. 

Focus in the U.K. is now quickly shifting to the future of Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the unsuccessful Remain campaign and is under pressure to resign.

Alex Ritman contributed to this article.