it was the exit polls wot won it. Claims of a razor-edge election result look to be completely wrong and Conservatives cruise to an expected slim majority, while Labour faces oblivion in Scotland.
As GE2015 ended in shock, the Conservatives are predicted to win a near-majority, as swings to Labour fail to materialise and Liberal Democrats face huge losses.
Speaking from his Witney seat in Oxfordshire, David Cameron said it had been a “very strong night” for the Conservatives, showing there had been a “positive response to a positive campaign”. The pound has rallied to its highest level against the dollar since February: Sterling jumped nearly 2% to $1.5523 against the dollar in Asian trade. The pound gained more than 2% against the euro, rising to €1.3841.
However, analysts said the rise could be short-lived as uncertainty over a possible “Brexit” or Britain leaving the European Union affects trading, with a referendum on the UK’s EU membership now likely.
- Nick Harvey, former defence minister, has lost his Devon North constituency to the Conservatives with a swing away from the Lib Dems of 12.3%.
- There’s to be a recount in both Stoke-on-Trent South and Stoke-on-Trent North after discrepancies came to light with the number of votes being recorded.
- Boris Johnson was elected in Uxbridge.
- Respect MP George Galloway lost his Bradford West seat to Labour’s Naseem Shah.
- Nick Clegg retained Sheffield Hallam but isn’t expected to last the day as Liberal Democrat leader.
At the count, the Liberal Democrats had a bruising night, as the BBC exit poll had them on just 10 seats, down 47 from 2010. Despite Paddy Ashdown claiming he’d eat his hat if this was true, it was the sign the left was going to suffer in a severely different from expected result. Lord Ashdown has told BBC Somerset it’s been a “bitter, painful and cruel” night for the Liberal Democrats.
The Tories were on 316 from the exit poll and grew close to that number during the result, meaning Cameron may have gained seats and could now, almost govern alone, without the Lib Democrats or DUP. Ed Miliband, speaking from Doncaster, effectively conceded defeat as he said he was “deeply sorry” about the result.
Labour was expected to take around 260 seats in the exit polls, a steep decline from polls for the entire campaign. Marginal seats failed to change and even in the North Eat of England, UKIP snapped at their heels in safe seats.
Away from this, Nicola Sturgeon had a great night as the SNP were on 55 seats at time of writing. Scotland has 59 seats and the original exit poll saw them taking all but one. No Labour or Tories, and only one solitary Lib Dem MP in Orkney and Shetland. Several high ranking members of the Lib Dem party lost their seats; Danny Alexander and Charles Kennedy included.
Despite garnering over 3m votes UKIP has taken just one confirmed seat so far. Commentators spoke of tactical voting by opponents to make sure Nigel Farage stayed out of Thanet, and out of parliament.
Away from the big parties, Plaid Cymru was expected to gain one seat to four (so far on three), and the Green Party had a small chance of taking two (at time of writing unconfirmed). Northern Ireland stayed largely the same with the DUP remaining the largest party, and Sinn Fein losing one seat.
Commenting on the General Election, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF said: “During the campaign we called on party leaders to build on the foundations of growth, with continuity and stability in business policy.That is now what we expect the newly-elected Government to deliver. There is a real opportunity to properly rebalance the economy and ensure a strong focus across government on investing in and, building on, our industrial strength as a manufacturing nation.
“There are many issues to tackle for a new business and industry secretary, which is why we need a really big hitter in that role. He or she will have an in-tray which will include the need to tackle some of the issues which will help Britain embed and build on the recovery. These include reversing the trade deficit, tackling an energy policy which remains a mess and redoubling efforts to deal with a creaking infrastructure by getting on with important projects, especially building a new airport hub.
“The biggest threat to our long-term economic well-being, however, remains the prospect of leaving the EU. Cameron will be under pressure to call a referendum as soon as possible, possibly bringing it to next year. The new administration must move quickly and campaign on the back of a strong and positive case for Britain’s continued membership. Any drift or dithering on this issue will mean uncertainty for British businesses, which would be very unhelpful for the long term prospects of the economy.”