Britain could be heading for a hung parliament and days of political chaos as a shock exit poll predicted that Prime Minister Theresa May has fallen 12 seats short of an overall majority. The poll, published as polling stations closed at 10 p.m. U.K. time, predicts the Conservatives will win 316 seats, down 17, with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party behind on 266, up 34. At around 2.30am local time, with around 150 seats declared out of 650 in total the BBC revised its forecast to 322 Conservative seats with Labour on 261.
With other parties picking up the remainder of the 650 parliamentary seats, the projected result would leave May’s Conservatives short of an overall majority and only able to govern with the support of other parties. But with only the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties, likely to win between 8 and 11 seats between them, likely to back her, such a result could open the door for Jeremy Corbyn to lead a minority Labour government with the support of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who are projected to take 34 seats, the Liberal Democrats, projected to win 14, the Greens, Welsh national party Plaid Cymru and the Northern Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party.
Labour were cheered by early results, taking Battersea in London from the Tories’ junior treasury minister Jane Ellison, overturning a majority of nearly 8000. They also unseated the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam. Labour took the ultra-marginal seat of Vale of Clwyd from the Tories and the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat from the SNP.
The Conservatives appear to be faring better in Scotland, where they came from third place to take the seat of Renfrewshire East from the SNP. They also knocked out the SNP’s deputy leader Angus Robertson in Moray and took Angus, where the SNP’s vote dropped 17 percentage points. The Lib Dems were cheered by the result in Dunbartonshire East where former minister in the coalition government Jo Swinson took the seat.