The UK media was dominated by the referendum over whether Britain should vote to stay in or out of the European Union as Brits headed to the polls Thursday. Braving torrential rains in some parts of the country, turnout for the vote is believed to be high, with TV news crews showing round-the-block queues at some voting stations. A record 46 million people are registered to vote in the referendum. The wall-to-wall coverage of the historic vote, which will shape Britain’s relationship with Europe for generations, was indicative of the closeness of the race with polls indicating the verdict remains too close to call. While Rupert Murdoch’s outlets, notably The Sun, have been stridently in the Brexit camp, left-leaning publications such as the Mirror and the Guardian have been for staying in.
Both the Remain (pro-staying in EU) and Brexit (anti-EU) camps have been bringing out their high-profile big guns to argue their respective cases. In Remain’s corner, the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, David Beckham, Benedict Cumberbatch and J.K. Rowling have lent their support to staying in the European Union. For Brexit, Michael Caine and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes have been cheerleading for getting out.
As reported by Deadline on Tuesday, the cream of the UK film and TV industry has come out as positively in for the EU. Industry legend Lord Puttnam, Working Title powerhouses Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Slumdog Millionaire producer Christian Colson, The King’s Speech producer Iain Canning and James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli made an impassioned case for why the UK is better off voting to remain in the EU. Their statement argued, “Having a seat at the table in Europe enables us to help ensure that EU policies make a positive contribution to jobs in the film and television sectors and across all the manufacturing and service industries which support them.”
The frenzied campaigning culminated Wednesday night in a live TV debate moderated by veteran anchorman Jeremy Paxman. In a surprising move, Nigel Farage, the leader of the right-wing, pro-Brexit party UKIP, skipped the debate reportedly to have dinner with his son instead.
Notable figures also took to social media on Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to sway voters round. The FTSE 100 also opened up Thursday morning, buoyed by the belief that a last-minute surge towards the Remain camp would keep the UK in the European Union. More than 1,280 business execs, including from 51 FTSE 100 companies, signed a letter Wednesday backing the UK’s membership .