The final opinion poll ahead of today’s historic Brexit referendum in the UK has put the Remain side in the lead with 55% saying they would vote to remain, with 45% for Leave.

This latest poll, conducted by Populus, was carried out on June 21 and 22, before the UK electorate went to the polls today, June 23, to decide whether its future lies within the European Union or outside of it.

Earlier this week a poll by the Financial Times put both sides of the campaign neck-and-neck with 44% each of the vote, the remainder still undecided on a side.

Polling stations in the UK will close tonight at 10pm and counting will begin across the UK. According to the Electoral Commission, an official result is expected around 7am Friday morning.

The referendum is of particular interest here in Ireland, as the UK is our largest trading partner and we share a border with Northern Ireland.

Therefore, the prospect of a Brexit presents a number of potential challenges for Ireland.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that in 2015 Ireland exported almost €5.1 billion worth of agricultural products and our imports from the UK were worth €3.8 billion.

Some 50% of Irish beef exports, which are valued at €1.1 billion, go to the UK market while 30% of Ireland’s dairy exports go to the UK.

Ireland’s future trading relationship with the UK would not continue as it does currently should Brexit become a reality as Ireland would be part of the EU trading bloc. Furthermore, there is no provision for negotiation of a special Ireland-UK trading relationship.

A possible Brexit also throws up the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Should the UK leave the EU, the Republic will be the only country to have a land border with the UK in the form of the North.