(BBC) – Britain’s Conservative Party will be the largest party but may not have a majority after the UK’s snap general election, an exit poll says.
The survey taken at polling stations across the UK suggests the party could get 314 MPs when all the votes have been counted after yesterday’s (June 8) poll.
Labour would get 266, the Lib Dems 14, UKIP none and the SNP 34, the NOP/Ipsos MORI poll for BBC/ITV/Sky suggests.
The pound fell sharply in value after the exit poll was published.
The first official results came in northern England, where Labour held on to safe seats.
The final election results are expected by lunchtime today.
A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with about 45.8 million people entitled to vote. A party needs 326 seats to have an overall majority.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s party would be 12 seats short of an overall majority, the exit poll suggests
Prime Minister Theresa May said she called the snap election to try to strengthen her hand in negotiations with the European Union on Brexit.
But if the exit poll is borne out by results, analysts say the PM will have made a serious miscalculation.
The pound fell sharply after the exit poll as traders had been expected a clear victory for Mrs May’s party with an overall majority in the House of Commons.
The pound fell by more than two cents to $1.2717 against the dollar, before recovering slightly to $1.2742.
The exit poll suggests the Conservatives would be 12 seats short of an overall majority.
It suggests Labour would gain 34 seats, the Conservatives would lose 17 seats, the Lib Dems would gain six and the SNP lose 22 seats.
The Green Party would be unchanged with one seat and Plaid Cymru would still have three MPs, according to the poll.
In total, 30,450 people were interviewed as they exited from 144 polling stations across the UK.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will gain 34 seats, according to the exit poll
Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Fallon cautioned against reading too much into projections “before we have had a single actual result”.
Labour’s John McDonnell agreed that it was too early to call the result, but added that if the poll was correct it would “change the nature of politics” in the UK.
If the exit poll numbers are correct, Theresa May played a high risk political game and has lost it – she didn’t have to call this election, and only did so in order to give herself a mandate and breathing space during the bumpy ride of Brexit.
Just a few weeks ago at the start of all of this she seemed unassailable, but a shaky campaign and an insurgent Labour Party may have dashed the Tories’ hopes.
This exit poll result is not what either of the parties were predicting privately – this would be another political surprise – the public again defying the expectations of both the main sides.
The Conservatives do look set to be the largest party, it’s not clear on these numbers if they will be able to govern alone. Theresa May’s promise throughout was to offer her catchphrase “strong and stable leadership” – instead she may end diminished – but only of course the real results will determine through the course of the night what really happens next.
The Conservatives could still secure an overall majority if, as the exit poll suggests, they perform relatively well in constituencies that Labour are defending where a majority of the electorate voted Leave in last year’s EU referendum.
They would also need to do better in marginal seats they are defending.
If neither of these patterns materializes, but the exit poll’s estimate of the overall levels of support for the parties is correct, then the Conservatives could lose their overall majority.
In addition, there is some evidence from the exit poll that the Conservatives will perform relatively well .
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron looked cheerful despite the rain after voting in Kendal, Cumbria
If the exit poll is correct the SNP could suffer heavier losses than were widely anticipated in advance of polling day.
Indeed this, together with clear evidence of a Conservative revival north of the border, may yet provide the Tories with the extra seats that they might need to secure an overall majority.
Top: Prime Minister Theresa May’s party would be 12 seats short of an overall majority, the exit poll suggests. Photo: EPA via BBC
Inset: Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will gain 34 seats, according to the exit poll. Photo: AFP / Getty Images via BBC