For the third time in five years, the United Kingdom has gone to the polls today. From the summer islands of New Zealand, join The Spinoff as we follow the results rolling in.
5.10pm: Right, that is probably about where we can wrap up this live blog of the UK elections. It is very clear that the Conservatives will win, and Boris Johnson will be returned as PM. He may end up with a one-party majority, he may be just short, but either way it’s highly likely the numbers will now exist to get a Brexit deal through.
As for the other parties, Labour is in disarray. The Liberal Democrats have been almost totally wiped out. The Scottish National Party now utterly dominate north of the border. And in Northern Ireland, it even looks like the pro-reunification Sinn Fein are going to make gains. If you subscribe to the idea that Brexit is a project of English nationalism, then wow, the UK is one hellishly divided country right now.
And on that cheerful note, thanks for joining us for this live blog. Have a good weekend.
5.03pm: Remember rising Labour star Laura Pidcock who was mentioned earlier in the live blog? Yeah, she lost her seat.
4.56pm: Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, is now speaking. “Scotland cannot be kept within the Westminster system against its will”, she says, on the issue of a second independence referendum. Also says she’s confident that if independence was achieved, she’s confident Europe would welcome Scotland back in.
4.44pm: Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has lost her seat. The SNP have beaten her in the Scottish seat of East Dunbartonshire. Huge result, and now the party is in absolute disarray.
4.42pm: Johnson says at this stage, it looks like his party has been given “a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done.” Also says the health system will be a focus of the next term of government. He says he didn’t want to call a December election, but is glad that he did. Short speech in the end, including thanks for one of his opponents standing as Lord Buckethead.
4.40pm: Boris Johnson has won his seat by about 7000 votes. Even tactical voting wouldn’t have resulted in a defeat for the Conservative leader, in the end it was pretty comfortable.
4.35pm: Meanwhile, a massive lead in seats is being racked up by the Conservatives. They’re up to 173, against 117 for Labour and 23 for the SNP.
4.28pm: An ominous message for the future civil war within Labour. Momentum are effectively a party within a party, and are easily the most well-organised group within the Labour Party. They have been heavily behind Corbyn, and will now be hoping to effectively choose his successor.
Whatever happens tonight, the movement we’ve built over the last six weeks – every friendship forged, all the experience we’ve gained – is going nowhere. Together we’ve built something remarkable: a movement of hope, solidarity and determination.
And we’re not going anywhere.
— Momentum – #VoteLabour 🌹 (@PeoplesMomentum) December 12, 2019
4.26pm: Jeremy Corbyn will not lead the party into another election. He says there will now be a process of choosing a new leadership, and he will stay on while that happens.
4.24pm: After the various thanks, Corbyn begins his speech with some fighting words about media behaviour towards him and his family. Says it is a disappointing night for the Labour party, but that he still backs the manifesto the party put to the electorate. Says the policies themselves were popular, but Brexit polarised the debate – “it has over-ridden so much of normal political debate”, he says.
4.18pm: Jeremy Corbyn predictably wins one of the biggest majorities in the country. He’s about to speak now.
4.00pm: The hundy is up for the Tories. They’re up to 102, against Labour’s 81. The Liberal Democrats are on 3, and SNP are on 16.
3.57pm: Nigel Dodds, the Westminster leader of the DUP (Northern Irish unionist party) has lost his seat to Sinn Fein’s John Finucane. Could be a good night for the Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland.
3.53pm: An interesting result in the Cities of London and Westminster. Chuku Umunna, once considered a heavyweight of the Labour party, has lost the race. And he lost it as a Liberal Democrat candidate, after leaving his former party in a huff. The winner was Conservative Nickie Aiken, with Umunna’s and Labour’s Gordon Nardell vote combined tallies easily exceeding that of Aiken.
3.33pm: Both major parties now have raised the bat for tidy half-centuries of seats collected. But the Conservatives have started to pull ahead, leading by 58-53 in the two-party race.
3.30pm: An incredible own-goal from the parties wanting to stop Brexit in this seat. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is one of the arch-Brexiteers of the Conservative Party, and between them, the other two candidates in the race could have knocked him off.
3.23pm: Jeremy Corbyn has arrived at the count for his seat in Islington North. He’ll win it easily, but there was a pretty muted response to his arrival. Walked straight past reporters who asked if he was going to resign – expect more indication either way when he does make a (seat) victory speech.
3.16pm: Update for the Brexit Party – they failed to win in Hartlepool, which was their best chance of a seat. It’s an example of how the party could have split the Leave vote had they stood in every constituency, given between Brexit and the Conservatives there was easily enough for a majority.
3.06pm: Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has gone on Sky News, saying he’s happy that there’s now not going to be a second Brexit referendum. His strategy was to stand down in seats held by the Conservatives, and says his preference was always for Johnson over Corbyn. But he says Johnson’s Brexit deal isn’t a pure enough version for him in the current form, and that the current agreement puts too much power in European hands. Incidentally, the Brexit Party don’t look likely to win a single seat in this election.
2.55pm: It took 40 seat declarations for Labour to gain a single seat from the Conservatives.
Labour GAIN Putney from Conservative.
First of the night.
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) December 13, 2019
2.33pm: In the Scottish seats, the exit poll had the Scottish National Party winning almost every single seat. And with the first result from that part of the country, they’ve got off the mark by winning the seat of Rutherglen and Hamilton West from Labour. But it looks like the mood won’t be super-cheerful at SNP HQ, if this tweet from their leader Nicola Sturgeon is anything to go by.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 12, 2019
2.24pm: The seat of Workington was the archetypical Conservative party target seat. It’s in the North of England, leans working class, and has historically been safe for Labour – they’ve held it since the 70s. But the results speak for themselves. Sue Hayman, by the way, was in Labour’s shadow cabinet, making her one of the most senior MPs in the party.
2.22pm: So what will this mean for Brexit? The Guardian reports that Boris Johnson plans to put his Brexit deal back to parliament again next week, presumably with enough of a majority to then get it through. Conservative party figures also feel that a parliamentary majority will make it easier to negotiate a subsequent free trade deal with the EU.
2.10pm: Seems like a reasonable point, based on current results. So far 13 seats have been declared (Labour are up 9-4) but their share is way down in pretty much all of them.
Tonight looking like the realignment election 2017 was meant to be. Leave-heavy Labour seats now finding comfort with a pro-Brexit Conservative party, while Labour at the same time are in contention in Remain-voting but Con-held Putney and Chipping Barnet.
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) December 13, 2019
1.25pm: The top lines again, if you’re just joining us: The official Exit Poll suggests that Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are on track for a huge victory, winning a clear majority of seats. Of the results declared so far, most of them have been Labour holds, but with dramatically reduced majorities. And Labour have also lost the Blyth Valley seat, which historically has been extremely safe for them.
1.16pm: Dramatic development from Sky News, where their reporter in Leeds just said that the count had to get a hurry-on, because the venue needs to be set up for a Vengaboys concert tomorrow night.
1.12pm: Thank you to Spinoff Politics podcaster Ben Thomas, who has heroically come up with a local angle on the UK election.
If NZ’s left is looking for any good news out of the UK election it’s that National probably won’t be able to afford Topham Guerin after today
— Ben Thomas (@BenThomasNZ) December 12, 2019
The backstory to this: Sean Topham and Ben Guerin both got their start in politics in the Young Nats. But over the course of this year, they’ve worked for both Scott Morrison’s Liberals in Australia, and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives. And while it’s too early to say about the UK result, they were widely credited as having an impact on getting ScoMo up for an unlikely win in Australia.
1.06pm: A glimmer of hope for Labour, who have hung on in Sunderland Central. It should have been a pretty safe seat, but was heavily Brexit-supporting, and in the exit poll was considered too close to call.
12.58pm: An important point here. Labour have of course faced widespread accusations of anti-semitism over the past couple of years, and while they’re contested, it is demonstrably true that there are some anti-semites within the party. But perhaps even more demonstrably, Boris Johnson has been quite open about his views on Islam.
Dark day for minorities in the UK. Especially for British Muslims who watched as a man who said “Islam was the problem,” mocked veiled Muslim women, & also turned a blind eye to massive anti-Muslim hatred in his party, was just given a landslide majority by their fellow Britons.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) December 12, 2019
12.37pm: Labour has lost the Blyth Valley seat, in the North-East of England. Previously the party enjoyed a majority of about 8000, and now the Conservatives have won it by about 700. That represents a massive swing, and it’s a part of the country that Labour desperately needed to hold to have any chance of hanging on. It was a heavily Brexit supporting constituency, and it looks like those voters have backed Boris for that reason. Just to underline the scale of the swing against Labour here, the Brexit Party wasn’t even standing in the last one, managed to win more than 3000 votes in this one, and the Conservatives still won.
12.33pm: For all people planning to move to NZ in protest at Borismania, please note the rules.
12.29pm: Houghton and Sunderland South is also declaring now, and the seat is another Labour-hold. But the majority for MP Bridget Phillipson has been slashed by thousands of votes, suggesting other less safe seats could be in a bit of trouble.
12.25pm: The first seat has been declared – it’s Newcastle upon Tyne Central. It’s currently held by Labour’s Chi Onwurah by a huge majority, and she has held it with ease, but it looks like her total vote tally has come down a bit.
12.17pm: This is Boris Johnson’s seat, and it looks like he’ll be fine, according to the seat by seat exit poll prediction from the BBC.
12.06pm: For those who are wondering what could happen to UK Labour after this election, this would be a very thorny development. Laura Pidcock has only been in since 2017, but is a rising star of the party, and has been discussed by some commentators as a future leader.
Hearing that Laura Pidcock is in deep trouble in her North West Durham seat.
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) December 12, 2019
11.54am: Expect Immigration NZ’s website to crash under the weight of traffic some time in the next few hours.
In fairness David Earle’s point is just common sense, might not be anything to do with the election.
11.52am: Just an update on the Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson – she’s in serious danger of losing her East Dunbartonshire seat to the Scottish National Party. Given that she started the campaign suggesting that she could be Prime Minister after the election, that would be a rather dramatic turnaround.
11.48am: The money markets are absolute cock-a-hoop at the prospect of a Conservative Party majority – this is how much the Pound has risen against the US Dollar since the exit poll came out.
11.44am: Recriminations in Labour, which in recent years has been an incredibly fractious place, are already underway. See, for example, this tweet from their MP and candidate for the seat of Mitcham and Morden.
— Siobhain McDonagh (@Siobhain_Mc) December 12, 2019
11.34am: For those following Scottish results, where the vast majority of seats are looking good for the Scottish National Party, it is worth noting that Boris Johnson has ruled out a second independence referendum while he’s Prime Minister. So there are likely to be huge tensions there over the coming months. “They will press it with relentless force,” former speaker of the House John Bercow has just told Sky News, regarding the SNP’s campaign.
Thank you to everyone across our great country who voted, who volunteered, who stood as candidates. We live in the greatest democracy in the world. pic.twitter.com/1MuEMXqWHq
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 12, 2019
11.28am: A couple of party leaders are potentially done for, if the exit poll numbers prove to be accurate. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn will be under huge pressure to step down, given the party started the election with 243 seats. And Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will also be in trouble. The party took an explicitly pro-remain position into the election, and they appear to have gone down from their 21 pre-election seats.
11.17am: Assuming these Exit Poll numbers are solid (and there’s no reason to suspect they’re not) then this election could have profound consequences on the geopolitical shape of the world. It makes Brexit overwhelmingly more likely to happen now. But Brexit is incredibly unpopular in Scotland, where just a few years ago there was a narrow defeat for independence in a referendum. So it could be that over the next couple of years, the UK leaves the European Union, and then Scotland leaves the UK to rejoin Europe.
11.06am: If Labour do fall to 191 seats, it would also be their worst result since 1924. That’s 95 years ago, and an awful lot of elections.
11.04am: Just a reminder, for any Remain-supporting people in Britain currently reading this live-blog and considering buying a one-way ticket to New Zealand – this is just the exit poll. There is a margin of error attached to it, and it may be that the results don’t quite end up falling like this. But it’s pretty likely.
11.03am: Just for context, if the Exit Poll is correct, that would be the biggest Conservative Party win since Margaret Thatcher was the party leader.
11.02am: The Conservatives are on track for a massive victory in the exit polls.
Conservatives: 368 seats projected.
Liberal Democrats: 13
Brexit Party: 0
Scottish National Party: 55
10.54am: We’re a few minutes away from the polls closing, and with that, the Exit Poll. That generally delivers a pretty good picture of how the final results will look.
— Dan Sabbagh (@dansabbagh) December 12, 2019
10.45am: There’s a genuinely hilarious subplot that could unfold tonight, in which Boris Johnson wins the election, but loses his own seat.
🚨 Tory insiders are telling me Boris Johnson could “genuinely be in trouble in #UxbridgeAndSouthRuislip”.
Exit pollsters think the Lib Dem vote has collapsed there probably due to tactical voting for Labour.🚨@SkyNewsAust
— Laura Jayes (@ljayes) December 12, 2019
Remember, if this happens, he’s just gone. There’s no party list he could sneak back in on. Cabinet ministers have lost their seats before in the modern era, but it’s unheard of for a sitting PM to be defeated.
10.27am: Here’s why there is so much uncertainty how it’s all going to go:
The final update from the Britain Elects poll tracker:
CON: 43.1% (+0.4)
LAB: 33.9% (+0.9)
LDEM: 11.9% (-0.7)
BREX: 3.3% (+0.3)
GRN: 2.6% (-0.4)
Conservative lead: 9.2pts
Chgs. w/ 08 Dec
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) December 12, 2019
It looks absolutely like the Conservatives are on track for a big win from that. But between them, Labour and the Lib Dems have more overall predicted supporters. If tactical voting (particularly for anti-Brexit candidates) takes place, then they could sweep past the Tories in many marginal seats. And there’s some evidence that could happen, if this from pro-remain organisation Best for Britain is anything to go by.
We hit a peak of 55,000 users at any one moment…and had to up the number of servers from 25 to 70…(which is just extraordinary!!)
All good now! The site loads in under 1 second. Still plenty of traffic keeping up!
— Best For Britain🗳️GetVoting.org (@BestForBritain) December 12, 2019
But on the other hand, a lot of Labour and Liberal Democrat people really hate each other. Not just in a politics as usual sense, but they really, really hate each other, and couldn’t ever bring themselves to vote for the other party. So it could all fall apart very quickly.
9.30am: So, with polls about 90 minutes away from closing, the top line is this – we’ve got absolutely no idea how the election will end up going. Polling booths are open until 10pm UK time (11am NZ time) and those waiting in line will still be allowed to vote, so expect results to take a while to come through after that. What we will get then though is the Exit Poll, which generally gives a rough guide as to how the results will flow.
But there are a lot of complicating factors in this election. It’s not a straight two party fight between the Conservatives (led by Boris Johnson) and Labour (led by Jeremy Corbyn.) Other parties are in the mix to win seats, or have an impact on seats with narrow margins. They include the pro-Brexit Brexit Party, the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, and the Greens, who are unlikely to win any more seats than the one they currently hold. Up in Scotland, it could be a Scottish National Party landslide, or something completely different could happen. Because Britain uses a First Past the Post system, it’s not really a nationwide election as such – it’s a collection of 650 individual local elections, mostly being contested by nationwide parties. There are even some seats where independent MPs – generally those who were part of one of the two major parties but left during the various civil wars fought over recent years – could hold on against major party challengers.
Here’s the most likely scenario: Boris Johnson and the Conservatives win a majority of those 650 seats. The next most likely outcome is that they don’t quite get enough for a single-party majority, but still have enough to cobble together a government. And after that, there’s the outside chance that anti-Tory tactical voting will deliver enough seats to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP for some sort of coalition. Finally, there’s always the chance that after the election there’s simply no workable majority for anyone, and they have to go back and do it all again.
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