Britons voted to leave the European Union in a startling rebuke that rattled financial markets and threatened to weaken a continent already strained by multiple crises, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The results instantly reshaped Britain’s political scene, as Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the "remain" effort, announced his intention to step down.
With all voting areas counted early Friday, Leave beat Remain 51.9% to 48.1%, severing the UK’s ties with the EU after 43 years.
The pound fell more than 11% to its lowest point since 1985 and the outcome triggered steep drops in stock markets and a flight into safe assets such as bonds and gold.
As votes rolled in, a portrait of a deeply polarized nation came into focus. The results pitted London and Scotland, where Remain was strong, against most of the rest of the country. Whoever leads the UK will face the challenge of uniting a country that is now openly, and roughly evenly, divided over its relationship with Europe.