How Sunderland's Brexit count rocked the world - and Lindsay Lohan
Silksworth Tennis Centre isn't the first place you think of as a backdrop to Earth-shattering events.
But the eyes of the world - and, apparently, even of a Hollywood star - were on the city council-owned sports facility in the early hours of Friday.
And what they saw would have repercussions around the globe.
As polls closed at 10pm, YouGov tipped the Remain vote to be narrowly victorious and Sterling rose at the prospect of Britain remaining within the EU - but it was not to last.
As at last year’s General Election, the pollsters, the pundits and even the bookies had got the result badly wrong - and it was Sunderland’s result that would show exactly how badly.
Of 168 polls carried out since the referendum wording was decided last September, fewer than a third predicted a leave vote.
But we got it right - our on-line poll had already predicted a victory for the Leave campaign.
We asked visitors to the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
More than 5,200 people answered our question, with 3,828 (73%) in favour of a Leave vote.
Wearside MPs said they believed the electorate had sought to take revenge on the Government for the impact of its austerity policies.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said: “The result here in Sunderland was a shock but it shows the deep-seated concerns of the people of our city who feel the European Union was not working for them.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to come together and work even harder to ensure that with this result we build a Britain that sees everyone benefitting.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott added: “Clearly there are lessons to be learned and we need to be out there talking to people to understand what’s going on in the North East.
“What they have been saying to me is they feel as though things can’t get any worse, and I feel that’s more of a reflection on national government, rather than the European Union.”
And her Houghton and Sunderland South colleague Bridget Phillipson said: “It’s a disappointing result. I think it does reflect the dissatisfaction that many voters here feel, that time and time again the North East is being overlooked for investment.
“We still have many people on low wages and in insecure jobs, and unemployment remains high. We are still one of the most deprived parts of the country.
“The vote that we have seen reflects then dissatisfaction that people feel at being given a kicking time and time again by the Tory government.”
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said local authorities nationwide would have to deal with the fall-out from yesterday’s result: “The Government decided on a referendum on this issue, and local authorities will respond according to the people’s response to achieve the best possible outcomes that we can for our communities,” he said.
Sunderland’s result, announced just after 12.20am, with the city voting by 69 per cent to 31 per cent in favour of leaving.
In less than five minutes, the pound fell from 1.50 to 1.43 against the US dollar as the markets flew into a panic.
They weren’t the only ones.
U.S. actor Lindsay Lohan was apparently following the results closely, with her official Twitter feed asking “where’s Sunderland? Does Sarah Palin live there? Lol” before thanking the BBC for explaining “where #Sunderland and #Swindon are”.
She also tweeted a slightly confusing message after reports that the pound had plummeted: “Why? prove the UK will not trigger anger by allowing (sunderland) to lower the UK pound - THIS IMPACT WILL CONTROL ALL MARGINS”
It is not clear whether the Tweets came from the Mean Girls star herself or her account had been hacked and the Tweets now seem to have been removed.