Election results 2017: Exit poll predicts Tories to be largest party

9 Jun

Exit poll

The Tories will be the largest party but may not have a majority, according to the general election exit poll.

The survey taken at polling stations across the UK suggests the Tories could get 314 MPs when all the results have been counted in Thursday’s election.

Labour would get 266, the Lib Dems 14, UKIP none and the SNP 34, the NOP/Ipsos MORI poll for BBC/ITV/Sky suggests.

Early results are suggesting a swing to Labour but it is too early to say whether the exit poll is accurate.

Polling expert John Curtice, who helped compile the exit poll, said the results raised questions about whether Theresa May would get the landslide she “originally had in mind”.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told BBC News: “It is possible that we will form the next government.”

She ruled out a coalition, saying Labour would form a minority government in the event of a hung parliament, asking the smaller parties such as the Lib Dems and the SNP to support its programme in a Queen’s Speech.

But veteran Conservative Ken Clarke said he believed his party would have a “small overall majority” when all the votes have been counted, although we might not know the result until much later on Friday.

To get an overall majority, one party needs to get 326 seats.

The exit poll suggests the Conservatives would be 12 short of an overall majority.

It suggests Labour would gain 34 seats, the Conservatives would lose 17 seats, the Lib Dems would gain six and the SNP lose 22 seats.

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The Green Party would be unchanged with one seat and Plaid Cymru would still have three MPs, according to the poll.

In total, 30,450 people were interviewed as they exited 144 polling stations across the UK.

Conservative Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon cautioned against reading too much into projections.

Labour’s John McDonnell agreed that it was too early to call the result, but added that if the poll was correct it would “change the nature of politics” in the UK.


Analysis

Media captionLaura Kuenssberg: Theresa May has played a high risk political game

By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

If these numbers are correct, Theresa May played a high risk political game and has lost it – she didn’t have to call this election, and only did so in order to give herself a mandate and breathing space during the bumpy ride of Brexit.

Just a few weeks ago at the start of all of this she seemed unassailable, but a shaky campaign and an insurgent Labour Party may have dashed the Tories’ hopes.

This exit poll result is not what either parties were predicting privately – this would be another political surprise – the public again defying the expectations of both the main sides.

The Conservatives do look set to be the largest party, it’s not clear on these numbers if they will be able to govern alone – Theresa May’s promise throughout was to offer her catchphrase “strong and stable leadership” – instead she may end diminished – but only of course, your votes, and the real results, will determine through the course of the night what really happens next.


Evening Standard editor George Osborne, who was sacked as chancellor last year by Theresa May, said, if borne out by actual results, the “catastrophic” exit poll figures would put Mrs May’s future as Conservative leader in doubt.

SNP Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie said it would be an “extraordinary thing” for Theresa May “to call this election for narrow party advantage and then, if these numbers are correct, to blow it incredibly”.

He said the SNP would still win the election in Scotland, despite the exit poll forecasting substantial losses.

A Lib Dem source said it was “too early” to comment on the exit poll, but added: “In this election holding our own is a good night.”

The party ruled out going into coalition with either the Conservatives or Labour.

Green co-leader Caroline Lucas said she could “hardly dare hope” that the exit poll was right, adding: “To be clear, Greens will never support a Tory government.”

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said: “If the exit poll is true then Theresa May has put Brexit in jeopardy. I said at the start this election was wrong. Hubris.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “If this poll turns out to be anywhere near accurate, it would be an extraordinary result. Labour would have come from a long way back to dash the hopes of a Tory landslide.

“There’s never been such a turnaround in a course of a campaign. It looks like the Tories have been punished for taking the British people for granted.”

He added that Labour had run a “positive and honest campaign” and had not “engaged in smears or personal attacks”.

Media captionThis is the moment the general election exit poll is announced

The Conservatives could still secure an overall majority if, as the exit poll suggests, they perform relatively well in constituencies that Labour are defending where a majority of all voters voted Leave in last year’s EU referendum.

They would also need to do better in marginal seats they are defending.

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EPA

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In Glasgow, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon voted at a local community hall

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AFP

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Lib Dem leader Tim Farron looked cheerful despite the rain after voting in Kendal, Cumbria

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EPA/PA

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Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May cast their votes on Thursday after a seven-week campaign

If neither of these patterns materialises, but the exit poll’s estimate of the overall levels of support for the parties is correct, then the Conservatives could lose their overall majority.

In addition, there is some evidence from the exit poll that the Conservatives will perform relatively well in Wales.

If the exit poll is correct the SNP could suffer heavier losses than was widely anticipated in advance of polling day.

Indeed this, together with clear evidence of a Conservative revival north of the border, may yet provide the Tories with the extra seats that they might need to secure an overall majority.

A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with more than 45 million people entitled to vote.

Some votes had been cast before Thursday through postal voting, which accounted for 16% of the total electorate at the 2015 general election, when the overall turnout was 66%.

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