Britain's voters have delivered a stunning blow to Prime Minister Theresa May, virtually wiping out her parliamentary majority in an election that was supposed to strengthen her grip on power. The opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, was projected to win 266 seats.
At a polling station in Hackney in east London, a Labour stronghold, 41-year-old Simon Bolton said he had favoured May because he was confident that she would get the "best possible deal for Brexit". The partnership lasted until the Conservatives won an outright majority in 2015, paving the way for the Brexit referendum a year ago. Most scenarios are either unlikely or would be extremely fragile - possibly paving the way for another General Election.
"She has to go and ask for things now and they can say "well we'll see".
Current plans to start negotiations in the week of June 19 may have to be delayed, experts said.
Against the euro, the pound plummeted over 1% to 1.13 euros.
After the result was declared in her constituency of Maidenhead, May gave a faltering speech.
"Earlier in the night, Corbyn said his campaign had upended the country's political landscape".
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"What's happened is people have said they have had quite enough of austerity", he said, adding it was time for a government that is "truly representative of all the people of this country".
In Scotland, the pro-independence Scottish National Party suffered major setbacks. Then consider this: the former UKIP voters who have rallied to the Tories mainly want hard Brexit, but many Conservative MPs do not, including newly-elected (perhaps) Scottish Tories and, a group of possibly pivotal fellow travelers from Ulster. Former leader Nick Clegg, a former Deputy Prime Minister, lost his Sheffield Hallam seat.
The one combination which would creep over the crucial 326 mark would be a repeat of the 2010 Tory-Lib Dem coalition, which has been explicitly ruled out by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.
Does the Prime Minister have to resign? At that point, polls predicted she would massively increase the slim majority she had inherited from predecessor David Cameron. "She made the election a referendum on Theresa May and she has lost".
The exit poll for the BBC and Sky News, done by pollster Ipsos Mori, predicts Theresa May's party to win the most seats overnight - as the polls closed at 10.00pm. Labout is tipped to win 262, sweeping up 30 extra seats. How he would steer Britain through Brexit negotiations has not been explained in detail. Among the biggest issues for markets and the economy are whether Britain manages to get a deal to remain part of the European Union single market or, short of that, negotiate some privileged access to the bloc, the country's biggest trading partner.
While the gap between the two parties has narrowed, virtually all polls suggest the Conservatives will retain control of Parliament. The campaign has highlighted her severe deficiencies as a leader and there is no doubt that her authority in the Conservative Party has been significantly diminished.
Apart from the u-turn on care policy, May was also criticised during the campaign for refusing to debate her opponents on television. That raised the odds that an election called by May to provide "strong and stable government" would bring instability and the chance of yet another early election.