Thursday, July 25, 2024

Elections

UK election: Exit poll projects landslide victory for Labour, devastating result for Conservatives

IANS | July 05, 2024 09:56 AM

LONDON: The Labour Party is projected to lead the UK under Keir Starmer with a landslide victory while the Conservative Party was heading towards a devastating defeat, according to the exit poll by three major TV networks.

The exit poll gave the Labour 410 seats, a stunning gain of 209 seats, in Thursday's elections for the House of Commons ending its 14 years in a political wilderness and marking a slide to the centre-left position.

Only 326 seats are needed for a majority in the 650-member House.

The exit poll predicted the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to win 131 seats, losing 241.

The Liberal Democrats, a one-time ally of the Conservatives, came in next in the poll with 61, according to the exit poll.

Starmer, who has the unique credentials of being both a human rights lawyer and high-level prosecutor, led the party on a platform of change -- both for the country and for his Labour Party, moving it away from the hard leftist line that had cost it previous elections towards a more centrist position.

"I've changed the Labour Party, " he declared.

His message of change resonated with an electorate facing economic hardships from high inflation compared to 2020 and a deterioration of public services, especially the National Health Service, once the pride of the nation.

"I will fight for working people. And I will fight to restore hope and pride in our great country, " he said on the eve of the election.

The exit poll was released within minutes of the close of voting at 10 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. in India) while the official counting was to begin.

This will be the first time King Charles III will be inviting a leader to form the government becoming the prime minister.

Starmer did not declare victory pending the official declaration results, but said on X, "To everyone who has campaigned for Labour in this election, to everyone who voted for us and put their trust in our changed Labour Party – thank you".

Sunak did not concede defeat either, but posted a similar message on X, "To the hundreds of Conservative candidates, thousands of volunteers and millions of voters: Thank you for your hard work, thank you for your support, and thank you for your vote."

Although the current House of Commons term ran till December, Sunak called early elections in the face of mounting problems for the party and the country.

The exit poll jointly sponsored by the three major TV networks, BBC, ITV, and Sky News carries a margin of error although it has gained credibility since its launch in 2005.

The latest string of Conservative rule began in 2010 with a resounding rout of the Labour Party descended into chaos that Sunak could not stem in the less than two years in power.

The Conservatives saw five prime ministers, David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Elizabeth Truss, and Sunak, the last three in the last term marked by vicious in-fighting, with Truss holding office for only 49 days.

Brexit – the momentous decision for Britain to leave the European Union in 2020 after a 2016 referendum – was the most significant marker of the Conservative rule.

The party led the country through the Covid pandemic, the economic crisis it caused, and the mounting immigration problem – mostly failing to live up to the voters’ expectations in the confluence of adversities.

Labour will be returning to power after its defeat in 2010 under Gordon Brown ending the party’s 13-year streak in power that had begun under Tony Blair in 2007.

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