Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) waves as he leaves the Conservative Party headquarters in London on November 4, 2019. – British MPs will select the new speaker of the House of Commons, once an unremarkable event but one now charged with significance following the previous occupant’s role in Brexit. Britain goes to the polls on December 12 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election.
BEN STANSALL | AFP | Getty Images
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to remain in power with an exit poll showing his Conservative Party winning a clear majority of parliamentary seats in a general election on Thursday.
The exit poll by Ipsos Mori — commissioned by Sky News, the BBC and ITV — was released soon after voting stations around the U.K. closed at 10 p.m. London time. It’s a survey of thousands of voters which has been reliably accurate in recent years.
The poll projected that the Conservatives would win 368 seats in Parliament, a gain of 50 seats.
A party usually needs over 320 seats to have a majority in the House of Commons in order to pass bills. The opposition Labour party was predicted to lose 71 seats with a figure of 191. The centrist Liberal Democrats were predicted to get 13 seats, the Brexit Party none and the Scottish National Party 55 seats.
“Boris Johnson seems to have won the U.K. general election by a huge margin,” Kallum Pickering, a senior economist at Berenberg, said in a research note.
He added that a win of this magnitude would mean the hardline euroskeptic wing of the Conservative Party would matter less than before, and it therefore lowers the risk of a hard Brexit.
The result of the election will have a decisive effect on the direction that Brexit takes, three-and-a-half years since the U.K.’s referendum on EU membership.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit divorce deal has been agreed in principle by the U.K. Parliament, but is yet to be fully ratified by lawmakers. There have been deep divisions over the deal on offer, and how close the U.K. should stay aligned to the EU after its departure from the bloc. The future of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has also been a major sticking point.
The impasse and political chaos in the House of Commons ultimately led to Thursday’s snap general election as Johnson lost the slim majority he held in the U.K.’s lower chamber of Parliament. The vote is the first to be held in the winter months since 1974 and the first December election since 1923.
‘Get Brexit done’
Johnson had promised the public that a vote for his Conservative Party would “get Brexit done.” The main opposition party, Labour, had pledged to renegotiate a Brexit deal with the EU and to then put this to a public vote. The Liberal Democrats had vowed to cancel Brexit altogether.
The Conservatives consistently led voter opinion polls up to the election date, although the party’s lead had narrowed slightly in the last week.
Both the Conservatives and Labour had experienced mixed fortunes during the campaign with question marks raised over trustworthiness, attitudes to religious minorities, and commitments to grand spending pledges.