With big wins for Leave in the EU referendum in Sunderland, Swindon and parts of Essex – as well as a shock swing to Brexit in Wales – leading figures began to face up to the growing prospect of Britain quitting the EU.
Mr Farage had earlier posted on Twitter: “I now dare to dream that the dawn is coming up on an independent United Kingdom.”
Former business secretary Sir Vince Cable said: “I think we are in Leave territory and we have to be realistic about it and start to think through the implications of it.”
When asked at around 2.30am if he believed that Leave had won the referendum, Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks replied: “Yes.”
He said: “If you said to me right this very second, yes, I think we’ve won.
“There’s lots of results to come in but it’s looking very good isn’t it.”
Earlier, Labour Leave founder John Mills joined those Brexit supporters in complete surprise at signs Wales could vote for Leave.
He told Express.co.uk despite the disappointing polls released at 10pm “we appear to be doing a lot better than that” as the actual results come in.
He said Wales now “looks pretty shaky for the Remain side” and that it had previously “looked like a banker” for the pro-EU camp.
He said the “dominoes are falling” with the “possibility that it’s really going to go to the wire” and the night so far is “very encouraging from a Leave perspective”.
Speaking on his way to the Leave.EU party in Westminster, Mr Mills said he expected the mood to have “changed dramatically by the time I get there” than from earlier in the evening.
A senior Ukip source said: “basically the whole country wants out apart from London and Scotland.”
Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at bookies Ladbrokes, said: “We are seeing huge sums of money coming in for Leave on the back of consistently better than expected results.
“There is a long way to go but the trend thus far is only going one way.
“London will be key in the eventual outcome and the Remain camp needs a better than expected result on a better than expected turnout.”
The results tempered Nigel Farage’s initial suggestion that Leave had lost.
Speaking as he arrived at a results night party, the Ukip leader said: “The eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back”.
He said EU leaders were “scared” and that if Britain didn’t quit the bloc first another country soon would.
A YouGov poll released at 10pm, the final of the referendum campaign, revealed Remain was expected to take 52 per cent of the vote and the Leave camp 48 per cent of the vote.
But massive support for Brexit in Sunderland, one of the earliest local authorities to declare, offered encouragement for Leave supporters.
Leading pollster Peter Kellner, former president of YouGov and who had predicted a Remain vote, posted on Twitter at 3am: “Seems we are heading for result bad for UK, bad for pollsters and (least important) embarrassing for me.”
Earlier, Mr Farage said in a statement: “It’s been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and looks like Remain will edge it.
“Ukip and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future.”
But a senior party source told Express.co.uk Mr Farage is not conceding yet.
Ex-mayor of London and leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson posted on Twitter: “The polls have now closed, democracy has been served + we await the verdict of the people. Thanks to everyone involved + everyone who voted”.