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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 November, 2019
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IT’S SEVEN WEEKS since UK Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election seeking to increase her Tory party’s majority.

Tonight we’re finding out her gamble has been a wager too far.

Almost all 650 seats have been filled and this is how a dramatic night unfolded.

Main points

  • Conservatives lose seats and lose majority but remain as biggest party.
  • The Tories may form a coalition, perhaps including the DUP.
  • Jeremy Corbyn calls on Theresa May to resign as Labour surges.
  • The SDLP and the UUP both lose all of their seats. John Hume’s former Foyle seat in Derry has gone to Sinn Féin.
  • Alex Salmond among casualties as SNP loses seats in Scotland.

Good evening all Rónán Duffy here, your live-blogger-in-chief for tonight’s UK election count.

It’s been an eventful election campaign that has seen u-turns, no-shows and of course significant tragedy also.

But democracy goes on and UK voters have made their decision about who should lead them for the next five years.

The polls are literally open for only minutes more with a 10pm cut-off.

Minutes later we’ll get our first indication of how the UK voted with an exit poll that will be poured over for hours until the first actual results start rolling in.

Just on that exit poll, it’s a joint poll carried by two polling companies on behalf of BBC, ITV and Sky News. So whoever you’re watching you’ll be getting the same information.

It’s based on answers given by about 20,000 voters as they leave polling stations, so it’s seen as far more accurate that pre-election polls.

As the results start coming in, we’ll hear party activists from all parties spinning it their way.

This is how that parties stack up ahead of tonight.

PastedImage-7491 Source: Sky News

If that exit poll predict is accurate, it is a devastating result for Theresa May’s party with her gamble not paying off.

If the prediction is correct, Labour has gained 34 seats and Jeremy Corby’s position has been significantly strengthened.

PastedImage-92696 Source: Sky News

The current Northern Ireland secretary is on Sky News, despite the bad news for his party in the exit poll he says it was still the right decision to call a snap election.

Remember, May had pledged at least six times that she would not call a snap election before.

We’ve already had a call for Theresa May to step down. It’s come from Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.

“I think she should go because she has manifestly failed,” she told Sky News.

“Boy oh boy oh boy, are we going to be hung drawn and quartered if this is wrong,” says David Dimbleby.

Relax, it’s not even 11pm yet David.

Som incredible data here from the exit poll.

Since the election was called in April, satisfaction in Theresa May has plunged while it has surged for Jeremy Corbyn.

Another stat you’re going to want to see. Millennials have gone hard for Labour.

Don’t forget. No votes have actually been counted yet, this is all based on an exit polls.

Nobody is claiming anything yet but Labour are said to be cautiously optimistic.

PastedImage-52490 Source: Twitter

There’s already talk of coalitions. If the exit poll is correct, the Tories will need about 12 seats from elsewhere to get majority. In the 2015 election, the DUP won 8 seats.

It means the DUP could be in strong position in a post-election shake up. As Jeffrey Donaldson puts it on BBC:

This is perfect territory for the DUP.

“We will be serious players if there is a hung parliament,” he says.

We now have our first result. It’s from Newcastle at 11.01pm and it’s gone decisively for Labour.

No surprise there as it’s a safe seat for Labour, but one on the board nonetheless.

PastedImage-55041 Source: Twitter

Tony Blair’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw was a strong opponent of Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party.

He now says that Jeremy Corbyn does deserve tremendous “personal credit” if this result bears out but, says that the campaign was a team effort by the party.

PastedImage-4124 Source: Twitter/BBC

Some more front pages for you via @hendopolis at BBC’s newsdesk (a must follow on Twitter for your nightly front pages).

‘MAYHEM’ declares The Sun.

pjimage (2) Source: Twitter/hendopolis

In case you have haven’t heard, but I’m sure you have because you do before, during and after every election, the financial markets don’t like uncertainty.

A hung parliament = uncertainty.

Here’s what happened to the pound on the minute the exit poll was released.

Can we trust this exit poll?

Election analyst on Sky Professor Michael Thrasher says that while it might be off a bit, they will not be off too much and the Tories will almost certainly lose seats.

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, eh, spinning.

“The worst possible outcome for the United Kingdom would be a hung parliament,” says veteran Tory politician Ken Clarke. He may have to get used to it.

For the uninitiated by the way, a hung parliament is one where no single party has an outright majority.

It’s a situation that is of course the norm in Ireland but not so across the water. The last time it happened was in 201o when the Conservatives went on to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Given the prediction that we may see a hung parliament, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was asked whether the party would take its seats in parliament.

Sinn Féin has five seats in Westminster but operates an abstentionist policy and does not take its seats.

Adams told BBC Newsline that it will not be changing its position and taking the oath to ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’ to sit in parliament.

“If we are fortunate enough and privileged enough to have our candidates returned as MPs it will be on the basis that we will not be going to take out seats at Westminster,” he says.

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

PastedImage-31796 Labour's John McDonnell Source: . ITV News

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell on ITV News. He names a number of reasons why he feels his party’s vote share has grown.

“I think there are number of factors, one is the prime minister’s promise not to contest an election, about seven times.”

The second thing is she said ‘this is about Brexit’, and they said you already have a mandate for that, so the issues moved on to what’s best for our country.

On the basis of the exit poll, the Scottish National Party may have lost 22 seats north of the border.

The party won an incredible 56 seats out of 59 in the 2015 general election. It now appears that result may have been a high watermark for the pro-independence party.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems are all likely to gain seats at the SNP’s expense.

Here’s what the BBC are predicting the Scottish map to look like. It’s a bit of a patchwork:

PastedImage-45479 Source: Twitter/BBCBreaking

Let’s get a little ahead of ourselves for a second shall we?

If the Tories lose seats and their majority it would put immense pressure on Theresa May, who decided to call the snap election. Could it leave to a heave against her leadership?

There’s already talk of Boris Johnson. It’s very early talk, but talk nonetheless

As I wrote this morning in a preview of what we should be looking out for tonight, one of the most important factors to look at is where Ukip’s lost votes go.

The party is way down after Brexit and the departure of Nigel Farage.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are benefiting from their vote collapse but in these marginal seats it seems Labour are benefitting more, by about a percentage point.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer and current Evening Standard newspaper editor George Osborne is on analysis duty tonight.

Here’s what he had to say about Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservatives:

I don’t think it necessarily plays out immediately, we will see. She’s the Prime Minister and we don’t know if she’s got a majority or not. Is the Conservative party likely to want her contesting the next general election? I think there’s a very large question over that.

“The manifesto, which was drafted by her and about two other people was a total disaster, it must go down now as one of the worst manifestos in history,” he adds.

Nigel Farage thinks Jeremy Corbyn has won votes for Labour from different places:

Our first look at BBC’s swingometer of the night.

This is based on actual results and again shows how Ukip’s vote has been split, a bit more favourably to Labour.

PastedImage-74389 Source: BBC

PastedImage-14691 Source: BBC

Here’s what Nigel Farage has to say.

On Ukip’s vote collapse and its current leader Paul Nuttall?

I’ve got no criticisms of Paul, but the people around him organisationally? Pretty weak.

On the Tories and Theresa May?

What a huge error to pick a Remainer to lead a Brexit party in a Brexit election.

On the prospects for Brexit?

If we do get a Corbyn coalition then Brexit will be in some trouble.

If it looks like Brexit is in trouble, would he come back?

I would absolutely no choice but to do so.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, there’s a recount in the Foyle constituency where the SDLP may have lost their 34-year hold of John Hume’s former seat in Derry.

Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan has been the MP there since 2005 but it looks as though Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion may have taken his seat.

As is usually the case, when the exit polls come out parties usually urge caution.

The Tories had been saying the exit poll underestimated their vote but the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is now reporting that they are accepting the exit poll is on the money.

In Scotland, the decline in the SNP vote is being blamed on the lack of an appetite for another independence referendum.

To perhaps underline that, Angus Robertson, who is the SNP’s deputy leader and who leads them in Westminster, has lost his seat to the Conservatives.

PastedImage-62474 Source: Youtube

Brexit Minister David Davis says it’s too early in the night to be making predictions.

He’s giving out to Sky’s Adam Boulton and says the problem with through the night shows is that: “early in the night’s it’s Labour seats and later on it’s Conservative seats.”

He also defended the calling of the election.

What we said is we wanted a mandate for what we are doing in relation to Brexit.

Sky is also predicting that the Conservatives will win 308-328 seats. They’ll need 326 seats to have a majority.

Nick Clegg loses his seat

The former Lib Dem leader and former Deputy PM Nick Clegg has lost his seat. He looks genuinely gutted.

PastedImage-2702 Source: BBC

He she is.

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the count centre in her Maidenhead constituency along with her husband Philip. She makes no comment to the media.

may

In a speech following his loss, the Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg says the emphasis must now be on bridging the divide in British society.

“There is a huge gulf between young and old,” he says. “We must try and reach out to each other.”

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

An exceptionally dignified speech from the SDLP’s Mark Durkan on losing his seat to Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion in Derry:

I cannot tell a lie. I cannot say it doesn’t hurt. But I absolutely want to begin by congratulating Elisha McCallion and agreeing with her that to represent the people is a privilege, to represent the people of this city as their designated MP is a privilege. And it’s a privilege I’ve enjoyed for 12 years and I’m sure Elisha will enjoy it as she’s been given that mandate and that mantle.

jex 2 Jeremy Corbyn is reflected.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is officially elected in London’s Islington North, a seat he has held since 1983.

He begins his speech by thanking the police for their work in protecting the ballot and following last weekend’s terror attack.

“Politics has changed. It is not going back in its box where it has gone before. People have had quite enough,” he says.

He goes on to say that the Theresa May’s Conservatives have lost seats and lost votes.

“I would have thought that’s enough to go actually,” he says, seemingly calling for her to resign.

“I’m very proud of the results coming in from everywhere tonight, people are turning for hope,” he adds.

PastedImage-78202 Source: Twitter/BBCBreaking

Theresa May is now speaking after being reelected and she is choosing her words carefully.

“Returns are still coming and we are yet to see the full picture,” she says

“At this time more than anything else this country needs a period of stability,” she adds, before hinting that the Tories may lead without a majority.

If as we expect to be the largest party with the largest number of votes, it would be incumbent upon us to ensure we have that period of stability.

Judge for yourselves, but Theresa May’s voice was, well, shakey.

Here is here speech in full:

Posted by on Friday, 22 November 2019

Just a quick reminder that the DUP may win up to 10 seats and be in a position to help the Tories form a government…

PastedImage-76039

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is putting a positive spin on the fact that her party may have lost up to 24 seats in Scotland.

“We will have more seats than any other party combined,” she says, before saying she is  ”not trying gloss over what are some disappointing losses.”

Sturgeon says the result is a disaster for Theresa May.

One of the biggest issues tonight UK-wide is the fact this is a disaster for Theresa May. She called this election unnecessarily.

It’s gone a little bit quiet right now so let’s have a little recap. It’s 04.24am and about 80% of the seats have been filled.

What’s certain is that the Conservatives have lost seats in this election and Labour have gained seats.

The Tories will remain as the biggest party but will fall short of the 326 seats needed to form a majority, so a hung parliament is almost certain.

The BBC’s prediction is that the Conservatives will end up with 318 seats.

What it means is that they will need to rely on support from elsewhere to govern. This support could very well come from the DUP in Northern Ireland which has increased its seat share to 10 seats.

Sinn Féin will also increase its seats from six to seven but the party will continue its abstentionist policy and will not take up its seats. The SDLP has lost all of its Westminister seats.

For Labour, the party has increased its share of both votes and seats and the position of its leader Jeremy Corbyn has been strengthened. The party could gain as many as 35 seats and Corbyn has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to resign.

In Scotland, the SNP has lost a large chunk of its seats but will remain the largest party north of the border.

One thing we haven’t really talked about is overall vote share. So here we go.

share 1 Source: Twitter/BBCBreaking

As you can see, the one thing this election has done is moved the UK back to a clear two-party political landscape.

Whereas in previous years the two largest parties have been challenged by first the Lib Dems and more recently Ukip, both those parties are now a disant third and fourth.

As Jeremy Vine says on BBC, that 40% share for Labour is in fact at a level Tony Blair achieved during one of this three electoral victories.

And here’s the change in the vote share from 2015, when David Cameron’s Conservatives beat Ed Miliband’s Labour.

share 2 Source: Twitter/BBCBreaking

Labour have jumped its vote share by a third from 30% to 40% while the Conservatives are up by about a sixth.

Turnout was seen as vital for the Labour party, particularly among young people.

President of the National Union of Students Malia Bouattia says they did indeed turn out.

PastedImage-34905 Source: Twitter/BBCBreaking

The DUP’s Simon Hamilton speaks to the BBC as the party emerges as a potential kingmaker with its 10 Westminster seats.

Hamilton refuses to discuss whether the party will enter into a formal coalition with the Conservatives or whether it could be a vote-by-vote arrangement.

He says, however, that they want a “frictionless border” with the Republic of Ireland post-Brexit and that “clearly our votes will be very important”.

Well, with this result it is now impossible for the Conservatives to retain a majority and a hung parliament has been confirmed.

Theresa May’s decision to hold an election in an attempt to increase her majority has failed. She will now come under intense pressure in the next 24 hours and beyond.

And with that, I will close tonight’s liveblog. Our coverage will continue on TheJournal.ie this morning and into this afternoon with loads to digest.

Thanks for joining me, Rónán Duffy, and stay with us for the shockwaves from this unexpected result.  Morning all!

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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