Nigel Farage has demanded the creation of a "Brexit government" and hailed the UK's decision to leave the European Union as evidence the institution is "dying".
He declared 23 June would "go down in our history as our independence day" and called for it to become a national bank holiday.
The UKIP leader's comments came shortly before the Out campaign passed the winning post with an unassailable lead of more than one million votes - a margin of 51.8% to 48.2%.
The Leave campaigner said he believed the referendum was won in Labour heartlands in the Midlands and northern England.
He said: "The sun has risen on an independent United Kingdom. It's been a hell of a long journey.
"It's a victory for ordinary people, decent people. It's a victory against the big merchant banks, against the big businesses and against big politics.
"I'm proud of everybody that had the courage in the face of all the threats, everything they were told, they had the guts to stand up and do the right thing.
"The EU’s failing, the EU’s dying. I hope we've knocked the first brick out of the wall.
"I hope this victory brings down this failed project ... Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day."
He called for a Brexit government "that gets on with the job" and said the UK needed to start thinking globally about its future.
Sterling plunged to a 31-year low on overnight markets as traders responded to growing expectations that the UK may have voted to quit the EU.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Bank of England may have to intervene to shore up the currency.
Boris Johnson is yet to appear publicly to speak about the Leave victory.