Thoughts on the Brexit vote result in Northern Ireland

Image caption Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers backed the Leave campaign

As Nigel Farage and Theresa Villiers appeared to concede defeat late on Thursday night and sterling climbed on the assumption that Remain had it in the bag, Mark Carruthers, presenting BBC NI's "The View" invited me to call the referendum outcome.

Mindful that, behind me, the counters were still verifying the ballot papers and across the UK not a single area had declared, I declined his offer on the grounds that making a wild guess at such an early stage is a "mug's game"

As the night wore on, both Mr Farage and Ms Villiers had reason to re-evaluate their early comments. In Northern Ireland Remain won, but its voters didn't turn out - especially in nationalist areas - in the numbers expected.

In the end, though, that was fairly academic as the margin of the leave victory across the UK was slightly bigger than the total of everyone registered to vote in Northern Ireland.

One of the explanations for low turnout in nationalist areas was that the referendum debates between different wings of the Conservative party seemed to some a far off distinctively English argument. But the consequences of this historic decision probably won't seem so distant.

What arrangements will be put in place for people who live on one side of the Irish border and work on the other, for groups depending on European peace or cross border Interreg funding, for farmers depending on the Common Agricultural Policy and for businesses trading goods north and south or east and west?

How will the EU recognise the unusual position of Irish citizens north of the border - presumably entitled to all the rights of freedoms of movement enjoyed by other EU citizens, but resident outside the EU's borders?

How will the Stormont Executive make its voice heard in the Brexit negotiations given that its two main partners pull in opposite directions on EU matters? Should its headline economic policy - cutting Corporation Tax - be put on ice until the implications of the EU withdrawal are clearer?

I haven't even got to the question of a potential new Scottish independence vote or Sinn Fein calls for a border poll; however, it's clear there is no shortage of questions but very few answers.

If I told you how things are going to work out under the leadership of Prime Minister Johnson or whoever the next inhabitant of Number Ten will be, then I really would be playing a "mug's game".

It will be a long, complex negotiating process, the outcome of which seems certain to have a real impact on how many people in Northern Ireland live their lives.