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Liveblog

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IT’S PROVED TO be an extraordinary night in the UK elections. Our liveblog below and @TJ_Politics will keep you right up to date with events as they happen. 

The main developments so far:

  • The Conservatives will be the largest party and are forecast to win a majority (329, according to the BBC) in the House of Commons if Sinn Féin abstains.
  • It’s been terrible night for Labour which, forecasters say, will take just 233 seats. Party sources are indicating leader Ed Miliband will resign as soon as today. 
  • It’s also looking very bad for the Liberal Democrats who are on course for near-wipeout, taking just 8 seats. Leader Nick Clegg has held his seat, but ministers, including Vince Cable, have lost out. 
  • Stunning news for the SNP with the party taking 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland, hammering Labour whose own Scottish leader, Jim Murphy, lost his seat.
  • UKIP is forecast to win just 2 seats but party leader Nigel Farage may not win election in South Thanet.
  • In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin lost out in the most marginal constituency in the country, with the Ulster Unionists gaining two seats (up from zero).
  • Here’s a full list of when constituencies are expected to declare results.

Source: Sky News/YouTube

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So, that’s it from TheJournal.ie’s election liveblog.

Things are calming down a little across the UK – as Cameron picks out what tie he’ll wear for his date with the Queen, and Miliband and Clegg prepare to make their speeches later today. We’ll keep you updated on all the developments throughout the day over here.

A last look at the projections before we go:

Conservative 329
Labour 235
Liberal Democrats 8
SNP 56
Plaid Cymru 3
UKIP 1
The Greens 1
Others 19

Here’s how it’s looking in the North…

And here’s some analysis from our political editor, who was up all night in the UK…

The BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, has been giving his verdict on the result…

Not since the fall of Thatcher or the Blair landslide has there been a political moment quite like this one.

Personal triumphs for the Prime Minister David Cameron and for Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will not just reshape British politics but could perhaps reshape the future of the United Kingdom itself.

Bitter disappointment for Ed Miliband and a political disaster for Nick Clegg may lead to both men quitting, and is sure to lead to months of soul searching for their parties as they mourn the loss of some of their most famous faces – felled by a brutal electoral firing squad.

Read his full analysis over at the Beeb’s website… 

Meanwhile, some slightly more oblique criticism of the forecasters, from elsewhere in the organisation:

George Galloway gave a typically outspoken speech after losing his seat to Labour in  Bradford West.

“I don’t begrudge the Labour members here their moment of celebration of course,” he said, according to the Independent.

“But there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact I’m going off now to plan the next campaign.”

Of course – as the BBC noted in its report on the loss of his seat - the Respect MP is well known to many for the infamous ‘cat incident’ on Big Brother.

Source: GallowayArchive/YouTube

Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg could also be making his last address to supporters as party leader this morning, according to UK commentators.

Meanwhile, more details on David Cameron’s plans for the day…

Boris Johnson’s night – in three photos.

General Election 2015 declaration - May 7th Source: Andrew Matthews

General Election 2015 declaration - May 7th Source: Andrew Matthews

General Election 2015 declaration - May 7th Source: Andrew Matthews

Talk about contrasting fortunes – David Cameron is back at Number 10, mulling Cabinet appointments, and planning to see the Queen later on.

Ed Miliband, according to reports, is due back at Labour headquarters later this morning where he’s now ‘almost certain to resign’.

Speaking from the lectern, Ed Balls has congratulated the victor in his constituency, Andea Jenkyns, who won by over 400 votes.

The Labour majority in Morley and Outwood was also eaten away by considerable support for the UKIP candidate, David Dews, who managed almost 8,000.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t quite do enough to do what we did in 2010,” Balls said, in a reflective speech to his supporters.

He spoke of his “sorrow” at the breadth of the Labour defeat across the UK, and particularly in Scotland.

He had concerns about the next five years for the country, he said, in which “questions will arise about the future of our union”.

“I’m confident Labour will be back,” Balls concluded, to cheers from the party’s voters.

balls5

In a repeat of scenes from earlier this morning – fixed grins all round as the Labour ‘big beast’ loses to the Conservatives.

balls

We should find out Ed Balls’ fate in the next fifteen minutes or so, as the result in Morley and Outwood is declared.

Elsewhere, the Greens sole MP of the last five years, Caroline Lucas, has retained Brighton Pavilion for her party. 

Reports across the UK news channels show plenty of ashen-faced Lib Dem and Labour figures…

Case in point:

nick

A quick check-in on the situation in Northern Ireland, where all 18 seats have now been decided.

The DUP will head back to London with eight MPs, Sinn Féin have four, the SDLP three and the Ulster Unionists are back on the map with two seats. Independent unionist Sylvia Hermon has also been elected. 

Let’s hear from some heavyweights…

And the latest on the UK’s game of thrones, from Jon Snow…

Morning – Daragh Brophy taking over from Hugh O’Connell, who’s been updating from the UK all night. He’s off to try and get some sleep (but in all likelihood will be kept awake pondering the future of Ed Balls and Nigel Farage).

In the latest developments, Theresa May, of the Conservatives, has urged ‘caution’ – saying its not clear how many seats her party will get in the final shake-up.

On the subject of shake-ups, Ed Miliband and his team are said to be in ‘shock’ this morning at the scale of the defeat…

This is the new 6am front-page of the Guardian….

guard

Okay, we’ve posted a handy guide to what’s happened overnight if you’re just getting out of bed and saying ‘WTF’ after a surprising result in the UK general election.

I’m going to hand over to Daragh Brophy to take you through the rest of the morning with some key results still to come, including the fate of Ed Balls and Nigel Farage.

This is Hugh O’Connell signing off and going for a long lie down.

One Irish minister’s assessment of events overnight:

BBC has slightly altered its forecast and put the Conservatives on 325 seats, which would be enough to govern alone if we assume Sinn Féin abstains from Westminster. The same forecast puts Labour on 232, the SNP on 56, and the Lib Dems on 12.

This interesting graphic on the BBC shows that UKIP’s share of the vote has increased massively and yet the party will win, at the most, two seats, because of the first-past-the-post system.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 06.01.51

Yet more woe for the Liberal Democrats as the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, loses his seat in Scotland to… yep, you guessed it, the SNP. Meanwhile, his ministerial colleague, David Laws, has also lost his seat in Yeovil.

David Cameron says that tonight has clearly been “a very strong night for the Conservatives” and, with a nod to the SNP situation in Scotland, says “above all I want to bring our UK together”.

I want my party to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost, one nation, one UK.

Here is the breakdown of Westminster seats in Northern Ireland with Sinn Féin and the DUP losing one seat each and Ulster Unionists gaining two.

The knock-on effect of this is that with Sinn Féin’s abstention, the Tories need 324 seats for an overall majority.

Big upset in Northern Ireland where Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew has lost out to the Ulster Unionist’s Tom Elliot. She won the seat by just four votes in 2010.

screenshot.1431059840.10900 Source: www.bbc.co.uk

Labour leader Ed Miliband has held his seat in Doncaster North which is no surprise. He tells the count centre crowd:

This has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for Labour.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 05.25.25

Miliband notes that in Scotland we’ve seen “a surge of nationalism overwhelm our party” and says the “next government faces the difficult task of keeping country together”.

He concludes by saying he will head to Westminster to await the full results of the count. “As close as possible to a concession speech,” says the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Miliband wasn’t exactly outlining a determination to stay on as Labour leader.

Another one bites the dust. Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has lost his seat to the SNP in the constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber. He’d been an MP there since 1983.

While the Greens might not win many seats tonight (exit polls have them taking just two) this is a statistic worth noting:

There is a huge amount of speculation in the last few minutes that Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls could be about to lose his seat in Morley and Outwood. Which begs the most obvious question…

Not all good news for the Conservatives tonight. The Employment Minister and former TV presenter Esther McVey has lost her seat in Wirral West to the Labour Party by just 417 votes.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg holds his seat in Sheffield Hallam. Not that he’s particularly happy about it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 04.53.11

Another Lib Dem loss, the Business Secretary Vince Cable has lost his seat in Twickenham to the Conservatives.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 04.36.44

Newly-elected Tory MP Boris Johnson says that the UK has “decisively rejected” a return to the 1970s and says it is clear to him that the people want the country to go forward with the “modern, sensible policies” of the Conservative party.

London’s going to need a new mayor as Boris Johnson is elected to the safe Tory seat in Uxbridge and Ruislip South. In his victory speech he notes that today is his wedding anniversary.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 04.32.03

First win of the night for UKIP with incumbent MP Douglas Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives, holding the seat in Clacton.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 04.21.04

Back in Northern Ireland and Sinn Féin’s Francie Molloy has retained his Westminster seat – which he won’t be taking – in mid-Ulster.

Pollster Peter Kellner outlines the problem Labour has faced tonight: Of the eight seats it has gained so far, six have been from the Liberal Democrats.

If the party had any idea of unseating David Cameron at Number 10 it needed to be taking seats from the Conservatives. Results so far indicate that in key Labour target seats, the Tories have, in some cases, increased their majority.

It’s a dreadful night for the Liberal Democrats. Party leader Nick Clegg arrives at his count in Sheffield where his seat appears too close to call at this stage.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 04.05.22

Meanwhile, his predecessor as Lib Dem leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, has lost his seat in the Scottish seat of Fife Northeast to… well, who else but the SNP.

And in Bermondsey, party veteran Simon Hughes, an MP since 1983, has lost his seat Labour.

It won’t be a clean sweep for the SNP with the result in Orkney and Shetland showing that the Liberal Democrats’ Alistair Carmichael, who is the outgoing Scottish Secretary, has held on. Still, there was a swing of 24 per cent to the Scots Nats.

David Dimbleby tells us we’ve had 186 results out of 650 so far and here’s the breakdown:

Labour 82

Conservative 48

SNP 38

DUP 7

Plaid Cymru 4

Lib Dems 3

Others 8

The Labour leader managed a brief smile as he left his home in Doncaster a short time ago…

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 03.53.11

Bad night for Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who might be in this car. He’ll find out shortly whether he’s retained his seat in Sheffield Hallam.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 03.47.23

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is on the BBC saying it’s not her fault that Labour has tanked:

If Cameron ends up back in Number 10 that’s because Labour has failed to beat the Conservatives in England, it’s not because of what happened in Scotland.

Loud cheering at the count centre in Glasgow cuts short the interview as Sturgeon says she wants to go and join her supporters.

Another big scalp:

Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Ed Davey has lost his seat in the London constituency of Kingston and Surbiton.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was defeated by Conservative candidate James Berry.

A major result in the north of England: Controversial Respect Party MP George Galloway has lost his seat in Bradford West.

Britain Election Wild Race Source: AP/Press Association Images

Ed Miliband’s time as Labour leader appears to be coming to a very swift and unhappy end.

Sources within the party have begun calling for him to stand down as soon as possible, with one telling Sky News he “won’t last until lunchtime tomorrow.”

Another, inside Labour HQ, told the New Statesman Miliband would have to step down as leader by tomorrow.

Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey has held his seat in Belfast West.

We mentioned earlier the stunning defeat of Douglas Alexander, Labour’s director of elections, to the SNP.

To put it in perspective, you’d have to go back 23 years to find a similar loss, when Chris Patten, who ran the Tories’ 1992 election campaign, lost his own seat in Bath.

patten Source: Andy JS via YouTube

Another HUGE result: Labour’s leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, has lost his seat to the SNP’s Kirsten Oswald.

murphyjim

Parties lose their £500 deposit when they fail to get at least 5% of the vote.

As this Sky News graphic shows, the Liberal Democrats have lost their deposits in an astonishing 36 constituencies (and counting) tonight.

libdemdeposits

Labour have gained their first seat of the night from the Conservatives – in Ealing Central in London.

This graph from Sky News gives a good picture of some of the the stunning swings towards the SNP that we’re seeing in Scotland tonight:

snpswings

Time to catch your breath and get on overview of the current state of play.
In Northern Ireland:

DUP 5, Sinn Féin 1, SDLP 1, UUP 1, Independent 1

In the rest of the UK:

Labour 21, SNP 14, Conservatives 9, Liberal Democrats, Others 11.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond is on the BBC now refusing to be drawn on questions about how his party will operate in Westminster if it’s on the opposition benches. He’s more interested in talking up how incredible a result it has been for his successor Nicola Sturgeon.

There is a lion roaring in Scotland tonight, a Scottish lion.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 02.37.28

Results starting to roll in thick and fast now with Scotland already showing huge gains for SNP and massive swings from Labour. They includes a whopper 34 per cent swing in Dumbartonshire West.

Stunning result in Paisley where the Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has lost his seat to the SNP’s 20-year-old candidate Mhairi Black.

“I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, and my brother,” she says in her acceptance speech.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 02.22.57

Here is the story so far in Northern Ireland:

DUP: 3

Sinn Féin: 1

SDLP: 1

UUP: 1

Ind: 1

Alliance: 0

The SNP takes its first seat of the night in Kilmarnock with 30,000 votes, nearly twice as many as Labour in second place – a 26 per cent swing. Expect a lot more of that tonight.

kilmarnock

Woman of the hour Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP, has arrived at a count in Glasgow with her party on course to sweep nearly all the Westminster seats north of the border.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 02.06.31 1

She told the BBC’s Kirsty Wark that she was still hopeful of an “anti-Tory majority” and she seemed to be adopting a wait-and-see approach to the results even though there’s now growing talk the Conservatives could win an outright majority.

BBC News has gone split screen to show David Cameron travelling to his constituency count in Witney. He’ll be “cock-a-hoop” says veteran broadcaster Andrew Marr.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 02.02.38

In line with our last few posts, former Labour Health Secretary David Blunkett is not optimistic, telling Sky News:

My biggest fear now, after the Nuneaton result, is that the Tories will reach the number of 323.

YouGov polling expert Peter Kellner is trying to explain why the opinion polls got it all wrong:

Something clearly went wrong.

Results starting to roll in thick and fast now. In the key marginal of Nuneaton, the Conservative party has held a seat Labour were targeting. It was 38th on the party’s target list but, in fact, the Tories have increased their majority.

The effervescent Jeremy Vine is messing around with some sort of Lib Dem house of cards on BBC to demonstrate the extent to which the party is facing near-wipeout.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 01.48.06

In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin holds Tyrone West and the SDLP holds Foyle.

More good news for Labour up north as it holds Newcastle Upon Tyne North.

Dan MacGuill has caught Sky News’ Adam Boulton munching away:

https://vine.co/v/eZlAJia3Bnw

The Conservatives have held Battersea while the DUP has taken its first seat of the night in Lagan Valley.

Polling expert John Curtice, who forgot to comb his hair, reckons Labour is doing slightly worse than the exit poll, which isn’t good for Miliband and co.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 01.21.47

BBC now says George Galloway has been reported to police for possibly breaking campaign rules with a retweet earlier today.

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock is on BBC News now and says Ed Miliband has “done very well”.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 01.16.53

Labour holds the constituency of Tooting in south London.

BBC News says there is NOT a recount in Bradford West but the “gossip” is that George Galloway has lost his seat.

Good news up north for Labour which holds Newcastle Upon Tyne East.

Reliable Green party sources in London tell us they believe the BBC exit poll is wrong, and actually over-estimates Green party performance, predicting two seats for them.

Party sources themselves think their candidate won’t win in Norwich South and that it could possibly be one of several errors in the exit poll.

Labour MP David Lammy had a very testy exchange with Sky’s Kay Burley, writes Dan MacGuill. 

He was asked three times should Ed Miliband resign if the Tories win the most seats and the popular vote. He eventually answered:

NO. And it’s too much to suggest they’ll have the popular vote on the basis of an exit poll.

The Conservatives have held Putney with Justine Greening becoming the first cabinet minister of the night to win re-election. She is the International Development Secretary.

In case you were wondering about that famous firebrand MP and outspoken anti-war campaigner George Galloway:

That Swindon North result is indicative of this not being a good night for Ed Miliband and Labour. Here’s why:

This from Dan MacGuill: Al Murray, the pub landlord (and Westminster candidate) tells Sky News that if Nigel Farage doesn’t win a seat, “we’re all walking with history tonight.”

pasted_image_at_2015_05_08_12_45_am-2

First victory of the night for the Conservative Party, which holds Swindon North. 

The architect of New Labour, Peter Mandelson, is on BBC News spinning hard for his party. He tells Andrew Neill:

All the three main parties have lost this election… we seem to be heading to an outcome in which no party has achieved a majority.

If you are wondering why there is a bit of a lull in terms of result right now, this is all normal. The counts are continuing and we’re expecting deluge of declarations across the UK between around 1am and 3am.

The Guardian has just posted this video of a pretty unhappy looking Nigel Farage - who rumours suggest WONT win a Westminster seat – arriving to an election night party in Margate.

He walks away from an ITV interview after saying The Sun and The Mail were wrong about UKIP:

Source: The Guardian/YouTube

Our very own Dan MacGuill writes: Along with the pub landlord Al Murray, Nigel Farage is up against a candidate from the Al-Zebabist Nation of OOG, who are at the count centre in South Thanet.

pasted_image_at_2015_05_08_12_12_am

Here’s a reminder of some of the fringe candidates running throughout the UK.

One of the first key marginals expected to report within the next hour is Nuneaton. Labour is looking to take the seat from the Conservatives, but if they don’t it could set the tone for the night ahead.

The Scottish Daily Mail’s Political Editor has a scoop of sorts. It appears that the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, who is effectively the number two to chancellor George Osborne, may have lost his seat.

Dan MacGuill tells us that Gerry Adams has just been on Sky News confirming Sinn Féin MPs will NOT take their seats, even if it meant having direct influence on a British PM.

We’re United Irelanders, you see.

pasted_image_at_2015_05_07_11_58_pm

BBC News have just doorstepped outgoing London mayor Boris Johnson, who is expected to win the safe Conservative seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. He was pretty reluctant to talk about what tonight’s predicted success for the Tories does for his leadership ambitions.

FullSizeRender-3

We’re keeping an eye on what our own TDs and Senators are saying about events across the water. Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary is rather relieved:

We’ll be keeping an eye on the fate of deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. A result from his Sheffield Hallam constituency is not expected until 4.30am but here is an early forecast from the BBC’s Emily Maitlis:

She’s operating a six-foot touchscreen in the BBC’s election studio. So, don’t mess with her.

Spencer Livermore, Labour’s General Election Campaign Director, has written this typically positive spin on the exit poll result:

I’ve been involved in a lot of elections and, I have to say, I am sceptical of this BBC exit poll. It looks wrong. Exit polls have been very wrong in the past – indeed, the YouGov poll is very different.

It’s going to be a long night because we will need to see the results to know which of the polls is accurate.

But here’s something that is really important for everyone to keep in mind: the coalition came into this campaign with a majority of 73. Even if the BBC exit poll is right – and it’s a big if – that majority has been all but wiped out.

Earlier, we brought you news of that YouGov ‘exit poll’ from, which showed a huge difference from the BBC/Sky polls with the Tories somewhat short of the 316 seats the broadcasters forecast:

However, the polling organisation has clarified to say that it has not done an exit poll today. They’ve called it a ‘re-contact survey’:

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson is on BBC News now (they cut him short earlier) and says there will be a price to pay for Labour or the Tories if they want his party’s support:

We have said that we will be seeking support from either of the two parties at Westminster. We will be seeking some return for the people of Northern Ireland.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls on BBC News says that the ballot boxes haven’t even arrived at the count centre, downplaying those rumours he’s lost his seat.

“Maybe you should spend less time on Twitter and more time on the reporting of the results when they’re declared,” he tells David Dimbleby. Cheeky.

Another story we’re watching tonight is the fate of UKIP leader Nigel Farage who is targeting a Westminster seat in South Thanet. But the early signs aren’t good for the controversial MEP:

That Ed Balls losing his seat rumour is very much a rumour, according to the BBC’s Political Editor:

Our own Dan MacGuill writes: There’s at least one TD taking an active interest in the Westminster elections.

Here’s Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at the King’s Hall, where counting for the four Belfast constituencies is taking place:

Second result of the night in from Sunderland Central which Labour holds. No surprise there.

If the exit polls are correct and it’s a big ‘if’ then Labour is on course for a very bad night, in fact it could be the party’s worst result since 1987.

There are even rumours circulating tonight that its shadow chancellor Ed Balls could lose his seat. Here’s the BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston.

One of the big stories of the night is the SNP which is on course to wallop Labour in Scotland and massively increase its House of Commons seats.

Our own Dan MacGuill points out that Nicola Sturgeon’s party currently have 6 seats in Westminster. If the exit poll is right the party will have 58 of 59 available in Scotland – a nearly 900% increase.

There’ll be dozens of newspaper frontpages coming in over the next few hours with several editions expected to be published through the night. This first edition from the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror indicates the paper is NOT happy…

Meanwhile, The Times is slightly more sedate in its early assessment:

So the former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown’s declaration that he would eat his hat if the broadcaster exit poll is correct – and his party only wins 10 seats – has already drawn its own Twitter account.

Hello and welcome. It’s Hugh O’Connell with you here until the early hours of tomorrow morning as the UK decides.

We’re just back from a brief visit to the count centre for all five Liverpool constituencies in Wavertree. This is the scene. It’s pretty quiet with Labour expected to return five MPs to Westminster.

IMG_5806

We’ll be bringing you the national picture and all the bits and bobs from across the UK over the next few hours.

A BBC News exit poll of thousands of voters puts the Conservatives on 316 seats, Labour on 239, the SNP on 58, the Liberal Democrats on 10, Plaid Cymru on 4, UKIP on 2, the Greens on 2, and the DUP on 8 with other parties (including Sinn Féin) on 11.

The exit poll represents a potentially stunning result for the Scottish Nationalist Party which would win all but one seat in Scotland.

However SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon sounded a note of caution in the first major political reaction to the poll:

Indeed, there have already been calls for caution from many quarters, with former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown suggesting the BBC exit poll couldn’t possibly reflect reality.

A separate YouGov exit poll indicates a far closer result:

The first official result is expected from the north east of England before 11pm with the safe Labour seat of Houghton and Sunderland South famously the first to declare.

All eyes will be on the fortunes of the UK’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg who is facing a battle to hold onto his Lib Dem seat in Sheffield Hallamshire. A result is expected around 4.30am.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage is hoping to secure a Westminster seat in South Thanet with a result there expected at around 6am.

In Northern Ireland, attention will be focused on Fermanagh-South Tyrone where Sinn Féin‘s Michelle Gildernew will be hoping to hold a seat she won by just four votes in 2010.

In East Belfast, the DUP will be hoping to win back a seat it lost to the Alliance Party five years ago.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell in Britain

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