The United Kingdom has voted in a general election seen as a critical juncture in the Brexit crisis engulfing British politics.
Thursday’s high-stakes ballot came after months of political deadlock over the UK’s drama-filled bid to quit the European Union, with MPs split over how to execute the result of the 2016 referendum on membership of the bloc.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party offered starkly different visions for resolving the impasse and rebuilding the UK after a decade of austerity during a febrile campaign in the lead up to the vote.
Here are the latest updates:
Friday, December 13
German Chancellor congratulates Johnson
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson win in the election.
“Congratulations, Boris Johnson, on your resounding victory. I look forward to working with you for the friendship and strong cooperation between our nations,” Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a tweet.
Chancellor #Merkel: “Congratulations, Boris Johnson, on your resounding victory. I look forward to working with you for the friendship and strong cooperation between our nations.” pic.twitter.com/ZNCDkjpnQj
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) December 13, 2019
EU ready to negotiate Brexit
President of the European Council Charles Michel has said that the EU was ready to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Britain, calling on London to work in good faith.
He said the EU hoped for a quick British parliamentary vote on withdrawal from the block.
“We expect, as soon as possible, a vote by the British parliament … It’s important to have clarity,” he said.
Trump congratulates Johnson on win
US President Donald Trump has congratulated Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his win, saying it meant Britain and the United States would be free to strike a “massive” new trade deal after Brexit.
“This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the EU. Celebrate Boris,” Trump tweeted.
Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN! Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2019
Brexit now inevitable, says Merkel ally
Boris Johnson’s victory in the British parliamentary elections meant that the country’s departure from the European Union was now inevitable, senior German conservative lawmaker Norbert Roettgen tweeted on Friday.
“It’s no secret that personally I wanted the UK to #remain in the EU,” wrote Roettgen, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee.
“But the British people have decided and we have to accept their choice: With Johnson’s victory Brexit has become inevitable. Our goal now has to be to keep relations with the UK as close as possible,” he added.
07:25 GMT: PM Johnson victory speech
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delivered his official victory speech from London saying that the Conservative Party had “pulled it off”.
Adding that the election had put an end to the threat of a second referendum, Johnson said that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union by January 31, 2020.
“No ifs, no buts,” said Johnson.
06:15 GMT: The results so far
With 642 of 650 seats having declared results, here’s what the next Parliament will look like:
Conservatives: 358 seats
Labour: 203 seats
Scottish National Party: 48 seats
Liberal Democrats: 11 seats
Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland): 8 seats
Sinn Fein (Northern Ireland; abstentionist – do not take up seats in Westminster): 6 seats
Plaid Cymru (Wales): 4 seats
Social Democratic and Labour Party (Northern Ireland): 2 seats
Green Party: 1 seat
Alliance (Northern Ireland): 1 seat
The Conservatives took 43.5 percent of the total UK vote share (though only 25 percent in Scotland, and 47 percent in England), with Labour taking 32.4 percent of the UK vote share. The Liberal Democrats had 11 percent of UK votes, the SNP 3.9 percent of UK votes, while 2.7 percent of UK voters chose the Greens and two percent chose the Brexit Party.
06:01 GMT: Johnson hails ‘powerful mandate’ for Brexit
05:59 GMT: Johnson’s historic victory
BREAKING: Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won a majority in the UK election.
Brexit and the NHS dominated campaigns in the high-stakes vote.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) December 13, 2019
05:29 GMT: What happened in Wales?
With the SNP on track for one of their best-ever results in Scotland and the Conservatives sweeping the polls south of the border – excluding London – here is a quick look at Wales.
More than one in five people in Wales are living in poverty, the highest level of any of the UK nations, according to the Welsh Assembly. By 2022, it is estimated that 39 percent of children in Wales will live in poverty.
Labour took 40.9 percent of the vote share across the 40 constituencies of Wales, a dip of eight percentage points from two years ago. That has left Labour – which is in power in the devolved Welsh Assembly – six seats down. Labour’s 22 seats are almost exclusively along “the M4 corridor” from Newport to Llanelli in South Wales.
The Conservatives, however, picked up six seats, including Wrexham and Ynys Mon – the island of Anglesey – from Labour, to finish the night with 14 of Wales’ 40 seats.
Nationalists Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales, held on to all of their seats, ending up with the same number as before the election – four.
05:23 GMT: Conservatives win majority
The Conservatives have now passed the threshold necessary to hold a majority, with around 35 seats still to be declared.
05:17 GMT: Dennis Skinner loses Bolsover seat
Bolsover is a former mining town in Derbyshire. It has only had two MPs since the constituency was formed in 1950. Labour’s Dennis Skinner has been the parliamentary representative since 1970.
But the 87-year-old saw an 11 percent swing to the Conservatives on Thursday, with Mark Fletcher beating the veteran by more than 5,000 votes.
05:15 GMT: Corbyn v Johnson – the speeches in full
05:00 GMT: Greens hold Brighton
Caroline Lucas, ardent environmental campaigner and voice of Britain’s green movement, has held on to the Green Party’s sole parliamentary seat – Brighton Pavilion.
She was given 33,151 votes – her nearest challenger, Labour’s Adam Imanpour, received 13,211.
04:58 GMT: The view from across the pond
Looking like a big win for Boris in the U.K.!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2019
04:34 GMT: A tail of two constituencies
04:26 GMT: Baby love
Here’s a result you may have missed. Labour’s Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow in northeast London, has been re-elected with a thumping majority of 30,862. Creasy, whose daughter Hettie was born just three weeks ago, in the middle of the campaign, took a 76 percent vote share – though that is a decrease of 4.5 percent from 2017.
04:04 GMT: Away from the spotlight
With three major party leaders having their results declared within half an hour, it is possible that some of the less glamorous races have been overlooked.
Weaver Vale, in the north-west English county of Cheshire, is one such seat. Labour held on here, but incumbent MP Mike Amesbury saw his majority drop by 6.6 percent. Just 562 votes behind was his Conservative challenger Adam Wordsworth, who picked up just 0.1 percent more of the vote than the Tories secured here in 2017.
In third place was Daniela Parker of the Liberal Democrats, a first-time candidate, who managed to double the anti-Brexit Lib Dems’ vote share – in a constituency which voted by 50.55 percent to 49.45 percent in favour of leaving the European Union.
03:54 GMT: Reaction to Swinson losing her seat
Jo Swinson’s lazy comparison of the progressive nationalism of @theSNP with Boris Johnson’s little Englanderism is the sort of sloppy irrational thinking that’s lost her her seat & no doubt the leadership of her party
— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) December 13, 2019
Really, really gutted about Jo Swinson. Her dignified speech in the very worst of circumstances shows how much better as a person, how much more deserving, how much braver she is than the clowns in charge of the two main parties.
— Leonardo Carella (@leonardocarella) December 13, 2019
jo swinson in november: i am the next prime minister
jo swinson in december: pic.twitter.com/eNHc2Ujy9o
— 🌼 add ham 🌼 (@hamaddition) December 13, 2019
03:44 GMT: Swinson loses seat
Dunbartonshire East has seen a swing of nearly six percent to the SNP, who won the seat from the Liberal Democrats. It had been held by the party’s leader Jo Swinson, who had become the face of the Lib Dems’ fervently anti-Brexit election campaign.
She lost the seat by 149 votes.
03:37 GMT: Boris wins in Uxbridge
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seen off the challenge from 25-year-old Labour candidate Ali Milani and slightly increased his majority in his Uxbridge constituency. He paid tribute to his rivals, including Lord Buckethead, in his victory speech.
03:29 GMT: ‘A very bad night’
“I thought that was a very dignified speech from Jeremy,” Labour’s Hillary Benn told the BBC.
“Let’s not beat about the bush, this is a very bad night for the Labour Party – it is a result that will come as a great disapointment to thousands of supporters. But we didn’t win, we lost, and we are going to have to reflect on that defeat – but I am sure we will return, because Boris Johnson is going to have a very difficult time as prime minister.”
03:25 GMT: Corbyn set to resign
Jeremy Corbyn pays tribute to local party activists and says he will not lead the Labour Party into another election, but will remain leader during “a period of reflection”.
“Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country, it has overriden so much of a normal political debate and I recognise that has contributed to the result we have seen all over the country,” he said in his speech.
03:19 GMT: Jeremy Corbyn holds on to his seat
The leader of the Labour Party has kept his Islington North seat with a majority of around 26,000 – the tenth time he has been elected to this constituency.
03:15 GMT: Goldsmith gone
Zac Goldsmith, son of tycoon Sir James Goldsmith and a former Conservative candidate for mayor of London, has lost his Richmond Park seat to the Liberal Democrats by around 8,000 votes.
03:05 GMT: Brexit Party implosion
Hartlepool was seen as the Brexit Party’s best chance of picking up a seat, with party chairman and property tycoon Richard Tice standing in the constituency.
But Tice has only managed to come third in the race in the north-east of England, polling more than a thousand votes behind his Conservative rival Stefan Houghton, and nearly 5,000 behind the constituency winner, Labour’s Mike Hill, who has been MP here since 2017.
After party leader Nigel Farage withdrew 300 candidates to avoid splitting the populist Brexit vote between his party and the Conservatives, mounting anger within the party led to rifts and very public displays of acrimony.
02:47 GMT: IDS survives
Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative Party leader, had been a major target of Labour campaigning in his Chingford and Woodford Green seat in the northeast of London. A controversial figure when he was overseeing sweeping reforms of the welfare system as head of the Department for Work and Pensions, he had a majority of 2,438 after the 2017 election.
He’s been re-elected, but his Labour rival, Faiza Shaheen, managed to halve his majority to 1,062.
02:36 GMT: Labour hold Canterbury
Rosie Duffield was defending a razor-thin majority of just 187 in this south-eastern cathedral city when Tim Walker, the Liberal Democrat candidate, withdrew in order to boost her chances of beating the Conservatives. The Lib Dems promptly replaced him with another candidate, Claire Malcomson, who polled just 3,408 votes.
Duffield, whose moving speech in the House of Commons describing an abusive relationship received international acclaim, secured the votes of 29,018 constituents – increasing her majority to 1,836 over her Conservative rival.
02:30 GMT: Corbyn at the count
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, has arrived at his Islington constituency’s vote count. Unsurprisingly, he is not looking happy.
02:25 GMT: The first good news for Labour
Labour has taken the west London seat of Putney from the Conservatives. The Tories had a slim majority of 1,554 in the 2017 election, which Labour has overtaken to win the seat with a majority of 4,774.
It had been held by former Conservative MP Justine Greening – one of the “rebel alliance” booted out of the party for defying the government in a key vote to block a “no-deal” Brexit – who stood down at this election.
02:15 GMT: Getting Brexit done
“I think this strategy, in terms of focusing on one key message and touching on the issue that people have clearly been feeling a sense of frustration about – given that we’re still talking about this three-and-a-half years later and haven’t moved on – has worked,” Mo Hussein, a former adviser to David Cameron, told Al Jazeera.
“Of course, people will be thinking about other things as well, whether that’s the cost of living, education, the NHS – but the choreography the Conservative Party set out in terms of getting this thing done first, and then dealing with other issues does seem to have resonated with people.
“It could backfire – I think the argument to be had will be about the kind of shape and scope of the deal (the UK seeks with the EU) – it could be a very simple, to coin a phrase, narrow and shallow deal that could be reached, or there may be other people who want a much broader and more ambitious trade deal.
“I don’t think it’s whether there will be a deal or not, it’ll be the nature of the deal that we seek to reach with the EU.”
02:00 GMT: Labour losing the north
Northern English towns – many once hubs of heavy industry which were decimated by Conservative policies of the 1980s – have been Labour heartlands for decades.
But as the results coming through appear to show, these communities are now turning their backs on Labour. Al Jazeera’s David Child examined why this might be the case – read Labour’s “red wall” creaks as loyal voters consider other parties.
01:55 GMT: No thanks to Farage
On BBC Radio 4, senior Tory Michael Gove was asked if he would thank Nigel Farage for standing down more than 300 of his Brexit Party’s candidates in constituencies where they could split the populist right-wing vote.
Gove said he wanted instead to thank Conservative candidates, activists and voters.
Farage responded: “It’s always party before country with you lot, isn’t it?
“I wouldn’t expect anybody in the Conservative Party to thank anybody. They only think about themselves.”
01:50 GMT: Scottish impersonation?
Police have been called in to Paisley, just outside Glasgow, to investigate a potential voter fraud. The Scotsman newspaper reports there was a suspicion of impersonation – where someone turns up at the polling station claiming to be someone they’re not – when a voter arrived to find their name already crossed off the voters list.
01:45 GMT: Another pair of Tory gains
Peterborough and the Welsh seat of Vale of Clwyd go to the Conservatives – another two big losses for Labour.
01:30 GMT: More bad news for Labour
Two more big losses for Labour just announced. Darlington has gone from Labour to the Conservatives, while the Tories have also taken Workington – a constituency which has been a Labour seat for all but three years since its creation in 1918.
In Scotland, the SNP has taken Rutherglen & Hamilton West from Labour and appear on course to perform very well north of the border.
Other results in the past hour include Middlesbrough (Labour hold), Swindon North (Conservative hold), Newcastle upon Tyne North (Labour hold), Nuneaton (Conservative hold), South Shields (Labour hold), Halton (Labour hold), Broxbourne (Labour hold), Wansbeck (Labour hold), Fylde (Conservative hold), Kettering (Conservative hold).
Constituency announcements are coming fast and thick now, and could see another 200 declaring results within the coming hour.
00:55 GMT: Swedish PM says Brexit will happen
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that Britain’s election results, according to exit polls, meant Brexit would now materialise and that time was short to seal a new relationship deal between the EU and the UK.
“It is a very clear result – it will not change by tomorrow morning,” Lofven told reporters on leaving an EU summit in Brussels that Johnson skipped.
“[It] means that we will move forward with our separation … we now have 11 months to hash out a deal. It’s a very short time.”
00:45 GMT: Labour candidate calls for Corbyn to quit
Labour leader Corbyn must quit, party candidate Gareth Snell said, conceding that he expects to lose his parliamentary seat in Stoke-on-Trent – a city once regarded as a Labour stronghold.
Snell said a combination of the perception that Labour was blocking Britain’s exit from the European Union and some voters’ dislike of Corbyn meant he expected to lose the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat.
Asked if it was time for Corbyn and his finance chief John McDonnell to go, Snell replied: “Yes”.
00:35 GMT: Minority Report
As journalist Mehdi Hasan called the impending result “a dark day for minorities”, former Conservative Party chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has called for a moment of introspection.
Al Jazeera’s Anealla Safdar and Linah Alsaafin have also reported on Islamophobia within the Conservative Party – read The rot of Tory Islamophobia goes all the way to the top.
My Party must start healing its relationship with British Muslims
Endorsements from #TommyRobinson & #KatieHopkins & colleagues retweeting both is deeply disturbing
Independent Inquiry into #Islamophobia is a must first step
The battle to root out racism must now intensify 💪🏽 https://t.co/ztK4ICpmNX
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) December 12, 2019
00:20 GMT: Contenders, ready?
Oh well, there’s always this to bet on. pic.twitter.com/Qfxnojy9qe
— Ladbrokes Politics (@LadPolitics) December 12, 2019
Thursday, December 12
23:45 GMT: ‘Maybe not the right Brexit’
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said Britain would leave the European Union if Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win the majority forecast in the exit poll, but it may not be the hard Brexit he spent his political career campaigning for.
“We are going to get Brexit. Are we going to get the right one? Maybe not,” he told the BBC. “My purpose was to try to get the right kind of Brexit. If we get half a loaf out of it, well that’s what we’ve achieved.”
23:40 GMT: Swinson in trouble
Boris Johnson is not the only party leader with concerns about winning their own seat – the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson has a 95 percent chance of losing her own constituency of Dunbartonshire East to the SNP. The official result for that constituency is expected at around 3am.
23:35 GMT: Question marks over Corbyn leadership
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he will not serve “either as a temporary or a permanent” leader of the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn were to stand down.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: “The poll itself, I think it looks as though it’s Brexit dominated, a lot of this I think was Brexit fatigue, people just wanted it over and done with and it put Labour in a very difficult position.
“But also, it is about installing what is generally seen as the most right-wing extreme cabinet that we’ve seen in our history, and it means, therefore, if they have a large majority like this, they will have, therefore, the opportunity to introduce some quite reactionary policies.
“If the electorate have decided this way, that’s democracy, you have to respect it. But I don’t think it will bring the country together, I think it will be divided still.”
It’s over. Labour lost Blyth Valley. So far down the Tory target list we didn’t even prioritise it for #tacticalvoting.
No amount of big city seats are going to balance this out.#ge2019
— Jon Worth (@jonworth) December 12, 2019
23:30 GMT: First official results
Newcastle Central is the first constituency to report a convincing Labour win, holding on to a party stronghold.
Sunderland reported just a minute or so later, another Labour hold, albeit with a reduced majority.
Blyth Valley came in at number three – and a highly significant result – the Conservatives have won the seat, a former mining area and traditional Labour heartland, for the first time.
23:20 GMT: ‘Flabbergasted’
“I’m flabbergasted,” Kevin Craig, a Labour Party activist and donor, told Al Jazeera.
“Earlier today, the feedback I was getting was that we had done surprisingly well – we’d rallied in the Midlands, we’d rallied in the east, the Labour party was running out of the campaign balls used to go door-knocking in several regions … But anything like the numbers in the exit poll are hugely bad news, and it does go back to Brexit for me.”
23:10 GMT: Could Boris win election but lose seat?
“If this exit poll proves right, it’s historic, it’s even a landslide,” said Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reporting from outside Parliament.
“An 86-seat majority in Parliament is colossal. It will also show that simple messaging works – ‘get Brexit done’ – a mantra. And, for all the criticism that Boris Johnson has received in this campaign – his accusers saying that he lies, that he is not to be trusted – yet we have this massive push towards him, if the poll turns out to be true.”
Emma Hayward is at the count in Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge in west London.
“Boris Johnson is up against Ali Milani, a Labour campaigner who has been out on the streets for months trying to get people out on his side. There has been a big campaign to try to oust Boris Johnson from this seat – in 2015, he came here with a healthy majority, but that was halved in 2017.
“It’s getting tense here, and it’ll get more tense as the night goes on. There’s no guarantee that he will win here, but he will be buoyed by this poll.”
23:00 GMT: Boris Johnson reacts
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
22:55 GMT: Sterling soars
The pound has soared against the dollar and the euro in the aftermath of the exit poll, as investors predict a level of stability to the UK’s government absent in recent years.
The pound was up 2.21 percent to 1.347 dollars – an 18-month high – and up 1.38 percent to 1.205 euros, a level close to before the 2016 Brexit referendum.
“Markets hate uncertainty but they would have hated a Corbyn government a lot more,” Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, told the Press Association news agency.
Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management, added: “We’ve long said that sterling looks a very cheap currency. If Brexit is indeed completed by the end of January, we see the pound trading as high as 1.35 against the US dollar.
“However, a long-term lack of clarity on Brexit and sterling to produce minimal UK earnings growth next year.”
22:45 GMT: ‘The Brexit we deserve’
David Allen Green is a noted legal blogger who has built a reputation for his commentary on the way Brexit is being delivered.
If the exit poll is correct then it cannot be said, after three-and-a-half years of Brexit chaos and calamity in plain sight, that voters could not have known what they were voting for
This will not be the Brexit we need or want
But it will now be the Brexit we deserve https://t.co/dI4oSblOyn
— David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) December 12, 2019
22:30 GMT: What the pollsters are saying
Chris Hopkins, head of political research at research consultancy Savanta ComRes, told Al Jazeera the exit poll indicated the prime minister’s “pared-back” campaign messaging had worked.
“If this was the Brexit election and it looks like, for all intents and purposes, if this exit poll is correct, that it was, then the simple message of ‘get Brexit done’ has clearly resonated,” Hopkins said.
“Johnson is going to want to get his Brexit deal through as soon as he can, and it sounds like he is going to have the numbers to do so at a canter really, very, very easily.”
22:10 GMT: First reactions to exit poll
“Northern Ireland has been thrown into uncertainty, while the Labour vote appears to have collapsed in the Midlands and the north,” Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, has told Al Jazeera. “Could Scotland now look for independence in the next five years?”
The exit poll suggests the Scottish National Party will win 55 seats, a major boost for the pro-independence party. But Johnson’s Conservatives have ruled out an independence vote and, if the exit poll does translate into a large win for the Tories, the SNP’s ambitions will face serious obstacles.
“Many people will now be wondering where this leaves the very many people who are worried about Brexit here in Scotland, which voted by a majority to remain in the EU, and who may now be starting to shift towards favouring independence for Scotland from the United Kingdom,” said Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.
22:05 GMT: Race is on for first official results
With polls now closed, constituencies in the north-east of England are racing to be the first to declare official results. We’re likely to see both Newcastle Central and Houghton and Sunderland South declare within the coming hour.
22:00 GMT: Exit poll figures announced
A poll of more than 20,000 voters suggests Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party winning 368 seats and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour securing just 191 seats – a very large Conservative majority of 86 seats.
21:50 GMT: Last moments of voting
With voting due to end at 22:00GMT, and the release of the all-important exit poll at the same time, Britons are waiting with bated breath to see who will be ruling them in the morning.
Al Jazeera has been covering this election in detail throughout the campaign. Here are some of the highlights of our coverage so far:
And while you wait for the results to start trickling in, why not refresh your memory of what is at stake in this election with our handy infographic guide?