UK election: Ruling Conservatives set for big win

UK election: Ruling Conservatives set for big win
UK election: Ruling Conservatives set for big win

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is on course to win a significant majority in UK elections, which would allow him to drive through his vision of Brexit, exit polls show.

The poll, released as voting stations closed at 10pm local time, showed Mr Johnson’s party winning 368 of the 650 seats for the lower house of Parliament. The result would give his party a majority of 86.

Mr Johnson told party members to "enjoy a celebration" in an email after the exit poll forecasts.

"You powered this campaign. We couldn’t have done it without you," he told them.

The opposition Labour Party is predicted to win only 191 seats, a blow to its left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn. The total was 71 seats below what the party secured in elections in 2017.

The City welcomed the news of a likely thumping victory for the Conservatives, with the pound surging by 2 per cent.

The exit polls have historically been accurate reflections of the final result.

“The numbers that people expected were 330 maybe 350, so to see 368 on the screen is incredible,” Jordan Rochester, a currency strategist at Nomura International in London, told Bloomberg.

Mr Johnson entered the election without a majority, having just 298 Tory MPs after some quit the party, and he withdrew the whip from others when they rebelled over Brexit.

The vote, dubbed the Brexit election, was called by Mr Johnson after he failed to get his plan for leaving the EU through Parliament.

He campaigned on a slogan of “Get Brexit Done” which appears to have resonated with a public wearied by the slow progress of quitting the EU.

The predicted result would clear the way for Mr Johnson to take Britain out of the bloc by January 31, 2020.

“Getting Brexit done is the priority," said Priti Patel, the Home Secretary. "The deal is there, it’s good to go.”

The opposition Labour Party had promised another referendum on Brexit during a campaign focused on nationalising key industries and taxing the ultra-rich.

The Conservatives have been leading the polls since Mr Johnson called the election in October, more than two years ahead of schedule.

The result would represent the largest majority for a Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

It followed a disciplined campaign with Mr Johnson making few of the gaffes that have dogged his political career.

John McDonnell, Labour’s finance spokesman, said that the result suggested by the exit polls would be “extremely disappointing” and that the campaign had been dominated by people’s desire to get Brexit “over and done with because they have had enough”.

“People were frustrated – they wanted Brexit out of the way,” Mr McDonnell told the BBC. “Brexit frustration has broken through.”

Labour candidates took to Twitter to express their dismay at the poll result.

"There are very few words for how heartbroken I am for the community I represent, who have been through enough," said Jess Phillips, who represented a seat in Birmingham.

The result is likely to see Conservative candidates win seats in traditional working-class areas that have been loyal to Labour for decades.

The poll also suggests that the leading anti-Brexit party, the Liberal Democrats, will win only 13 seats. Its leader, Jo Swinson, was facing a fight to keep her seat in the face of a strong challenge from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The SNP which supports a split from the UK, is set to perform strongly within, with a forecast 55 seats.

Scotland narrowly voted against independence in 2014 by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

A senior minister, Michael Gove, said the strong showing for the SNP in Scotland did not mean that another referendum was inevitable.

The Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, was forecast not to win any seats after withdrawing many of its candidates to allow the pro-Brexit Conservatives a free run in some.

Mr Farage said that the election showed that the UK would get Brexit, but maybe not the right one.

Updated: December 13, 2019 03:20 AM

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