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News / Shetland votes to remain in the EU

Counting officer Jan Riise declares the result of the EU referendum in Shetland, with 56.5 per cent voting to remain.

SHETLAND has voted to remain in the EU by a margin of 13 per cent. The results came in a full hour and a quarter ahead of schedule, with a high turnout of 70.4 per cent voting.

Out of 12,231 votes cast, 56.5 per cent (6,907) voted to remain, while 43.5 per cent (5,315) voted to leave.

Leave campaigner Brian Nugent expressed disappointment, saying the he had honestly believed the outcome would have been different.

No figures for individual areas have been given, but it is known that Whalsay voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe largely due to dissatisfaction with fisheries management.

“I thought leave was going to win from speaking to people ahead of the vote,” Nugent said. “I am disappointed.”

Brae high school history teacher Irvine Tait, who brought five students to witness the democratic process in action, was pleased with the Shetland result.

“I am not a great fan of Europe, but I think we are better in it,” he said.

“I am not keen on things like state aid regulations and competition legislation, but we should try and reform it.”

Not all his students agreed. Lewis Johnson, the 14 year old son of a fisherman, said: “The majority of our population are fishermen and crofters and the fishermen have certainly been complaining that they have not been getting their fair share from Europe, and I am actually pretty disappointed.”

Fellow 14 year old Katie Wink, however, would have liked it to be a larger majority for Remain.

“It’s not good how close it was,” she said. “I think we need the EU and Britain needs to stop being so selfish.”

Counting officer Jan Riise said he was happy with the outcome in that the results were announced so early in the night and praised everyone involved in the ballot in Shetland for running such a smooth operation.

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He noted the “remarkably high turnout”, eight per cent higher than last month’s Scottish elections, suggesting a growing interest in democracy in the isles, especially in referendums.

“I think there is a growing interest in voting in Shetland,” he said. “Perhaps it shows an appreciation for referendums, which are about specific issues, rather than about candidates.” 

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