The night so far … 50 out of 650 seats declared and Labour riding high

RESULTS from polling stations across the country are rolling in, with an exit poll suggesting the Conservatives will be the largest single party in the new Parliament – but short of an outright majority.

After 50 results out of 650, Labour had 28 seats with two gains, while the Conservatives were on 16 with one loss.

The Labour share of the vote stood at 45.76%, an increase of 8.18%, with the Tory share at 36.94%, up 6.68%.

Ukip looked to be the biggest loser on the night, with a drop in share so far of 11.29%.

The BBC/Sky/ITV poll suggested the UK is heading for a hung parliament, with the Tories 12 seats short of the 326 they need for an absolute majority in the House of Commons.

The pound fell more than 1.5% against the US dollar and 1% against the euro as the shock figures set the scene for political turmoil at Westminster, disruption to upcoming Brexit negotiations – and the possibility of yet another election within months.

Here are some of the quotes of election night so far:

Former chancellor George Osborne, axed under Theresa May, said the exit poll indicated a “catastrophic” night for the Conservatives.

He told ITV: “It is early days, it’s a poll, if the poll is anything like accurate this is completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and for Theresa May

“It’s difficult to see, if these numbers are right, how they would put together the coalition to remain in office.”

Tory Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told the BBC: “This is a projection, it’s not a result. These exit polls have been wrong in the past.”

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said it was still early, but told Sky News: “They have been right for the last 20 years or so, 30 years, so I think we’re on the verge of a great result.

“Just think only seven weeks ago the hubris of the Prime Minister who was 20 points ahead, who wanted to have a blank cheque, she wanted to do whatever she wanted with the country with Brexit, with the economy, with our National Health Service and we said no and we meant it.”

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

Veteran presenter David Dimbleby was joined by an unwanted guest in the BBC studios, a rogue fly.

The famous footballing rivalry in the North East was mirrored at the counts – with Newcastle Central beating Sunderland to become the first seat to declare, at 11pm, with Labour candidate Chi Onwurah winning.

Early indications from the London seat of Kensington and Chelsea, which voted to remain during the EU referendum last year, suggest a Labour gain.

 

With election fever gripping the country, armchair political fans have been turning to the internet to answer their questions on what the results might mean.

The most popular question, according to Google, was: How accurate are exit polls?

The Monster Raving Loony Party were among the first candidates to turn up to the Islington North count to contest Jeremy Corbyn’s seat.

True to form, party members arrived dressed in garish outfits, complete with blinged-up top hats and bright yellow badges.

Around six members were cheered on by supporters as they lapped up the brief media attention in front of cameras and reporters.

A senior local Labour source says it is “50-50” in Hastings and Rye, where Home Secretary Amber Rudd is standing.

Meanwhile, there are suggestions junior minister Jane Ellison, Battersea MP since 2010, is also in trouble. It had been a Labour seat between 1997 and 2010.

Around two-and-a-half hours since the first ballot boxes arrived, verification of votes for the Eltham constituency is complete.

The turnout figure was 71.82%, up from 67.66% in 2015.

Greenwich Council said its 220 count staff were still checking the number of votes received was the same as number of voting slips handed out for the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency.

For Greenwich and Woolwich, Labour’s Matthew Pennycook is hoping to repeat 2015’s comfortable win, when he got almost twice the number of votes as his nearest rival.

The Conservative candidate for Eltham, Matt Hartley, will be seeking to overturn the 2,500+ majority Labour received in the last election.

 

Just before the count for the Solihull and Meriden constituencies started, the returning officer led 165 volunteer tellers in a rendition of Happy Birthday for elections team member Joe Suffield, who turned 21 on polling day.

He was presented with a Victoria sponge cake.

 

The exit poll dominated the newspaper front pages, with many describing the Prime Minister’s decision to call a snap election as a gamble that backfired.

The Sun, which backed the Tories, ran the headline Mayhem.

The Daily Mail and the Express, which also urged voters to keep Mrs May in No 10, described her fight to “hang on” to power.

The Mirror, which came out in support of Jeremy Corbyn, said “Theresa May was on the verge … of the most sensational political disaster for generations”.

This from the Press Association’s data and graphics journalist Ian Jones: Turnout so far has been up in every seat to declare except Nuneaton.

Tulip Siddiq, who hopes to hold Hampstead and Kilburn for Labour, said: “(Mrs May) underestimated the British people.

“People don’t like scaremongering, which is what she has tried to do.

“It was an unnecessary election at a time when we should be making decisions for the country.”

First gain of the night: Labour take Rutherglen and Hamilton West from the SNP on a swing of 8.9%.

In 2010, then-Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was heading for the role of Deputy Prime Minister. Today, he could be heading out of politics.

A source close to the Sheffield Hallam candidate said: “Too early to say, but it’s close.”

Mr Osborne, the former chancellor, says he is getting messages from his friends in the Conservatives that they are “struggling” in southern towns, such as Milton Keynes and Reading.

Labour’s Clive Lewis tells PA reporter Sam Russell in Norwich South: “This has a kind of Dunkurkian feel to it; it feels like a bit of a turning point.”

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor in No 10, says the Tories may face another leadership election on what appears to be an unexpectedly difficult night for the Tories.

He told ITV: “I’m hearing there is an outside chance Labour could be the biggest party. If that’s the case, a lot of people will have to eat their words.”

Turnout in Hastings was just over 70%, up from 68% at the last election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweets: “Whatever the final result, our positive campaign has changed politics for the better.”

Suspense at Tom Watson’s victory speech, according to PA reporter Richard Vernalls: @tom_watson victory speech. The TV link dies just as he says “It’s too early to say, but it looks like…” It looks like what? #Election2017

 

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