- Despite icy temperatures, rain and snow, voters have been reporting long lines at polling stations across the country.
- Some 45 million people are eligible to vote in 650 constituencies, which will be decided on a first-past-the-post basis.
- Smaller parties could play a major role if the Conservatives and Labour fall short of a majority and need their support to govern.
All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC).
22:05 - Exit polls released shortly after polling closed suggest that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are likely to win a majority of seats in Parliament.
The poll put the Conservatives taking 368 seats, while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was set to get 191 seats. The Scottish National Party was projected to take 55, the Liberal Democrats were set to take 13, and the Brexit Party none.
21:30 – Some of the last-minute messages from party leaders here. No surprise that Boris Johnson focused on the parliamentary standoff around Brexit, while Jeremy Corbyn made saving the NHS his clarion call.
The Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, encouraged voters in Scotland to vote for greater self-determination.
The Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson hammered home her party’s message of the need to remain in the European Union.
21:00 – The right-leaning Daily Telegraph newspaper is asking after the whereabouts of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who apparently hasn’t been seen all day.
20:50 – Some say the main threat to Boris Johnson isn’t Jeremy Corbyn at all, but his 25-year-old local challenger for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency – Ali Milani.
Labour’s Milani, who arrived in Britain from Iran at the age of five speaking no English, is pitching himself as the true “local candidate.” Johnson’s majority in the seat is just 5,034 — the smallest of any sitting prime minister since 1924.
Read more: Where is Boris Johnson?
With activists targeting the seat in an effort to dethrone Johnson, the prime minister — who hasn’t made a priority of constituency campaigning — made a late visit to rally supporters there.
20:40 - Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar expects it will be a late night for EU leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels. While he did not endorse Johnson’s vow to “Get Brexit Done”, he stressed the need for a decisive verdict.
“I imagine most prime ministers and presidents will be staying up all night to watch the results, so we’ll all be a bit bleary eyed in the morning,” Varadkar said.
“Obviously, it’s entirely a decision for the people of the UK to elect whatever government they want and I just hope the result is decisive so that we know where we’re going over the next few months.”
19:45 - Former Conservative cabinet David Gauke is claiming “a broad coalition of support” in his effort to win the South West Hertfordshire constituency at the expense of Boris Johnson’s party.
Having gained an endorsement from Conservative Prime Minister John Major, Gauke also won the seal of approval from the fan-run Twitter account of anarchic rap-metal group Rage Against the Machine.
The band-endorsed account produced a “Vote Against the Machine” list for tactical voters opposed to Johnson.
Among its recommended candidates were Gauke and former fellow Tory cabinet member Dominic Grieve. Both are running as independents after they voted against the Boris Johnson’s government and subsequently sidelined.
18:45 - Today’s vote has been billed as the “Brexit election,” with Boris Johnson seeking a majority that would get his withdrawal agreement across the line and allow Britain to leave the EU on January 31. But any other outcome would throw this up into the air. We looked at the possibilities, and what they would mean for Brexit, back when the election was called.
17:55 - Conservative MP and former minister Greg Hands issued a video appeal on Twitter directed at German-speaking voters with dual citizenship in the UK to vote Tory. Hands worked at a swimming pool in Berlin for a year before embarking on university, and his German still — by-and-large — appeared to pass muster.
From the US, Democratic House representative Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez issued a call in favor of the Labour Party, featuring a post from Jeremy Corbyn.
16:50 - Among the hastags trending on UK election day is #dogsatpollingstations. It’s been a feature of previous UK elections, but this time around – in the run-up to Christmas – many of the pooches on show are dressed in festive attire.
16:30 Here’s a reminder of the party leaders who will be waiting with baited breath ahead of the first exit polls later today. All the key figures have now cast their votes.
16:15 – Worth noting that the hashtag #YouthQuake is trending on UK Twitter, amid reports that young people are turning out to vote in large numbers. It’s widely perceived that this would favor the Labour Party, but unclear if the phenomenon is a widespread one.
A “Youthquake” of younger voters casting their ballors for Labour MPs in 2017 was said to have contributed to a better-than-expected showing for Jeremy Corbyn’s party — depriving then-Prime Minister Theresa May of her much-needed majority.
16:00 – It’s arguably the most unpredictable election in years, with many voters prepared to abandon long-held party loyalties after three years of Brexit wrangling. Aside from the drama of Britain’s exit from the EU, both the Labour and Conservative parties are perceived to have moved away from the center ground of politics — leaving some to feel politically homeless.
Despite this, photos showing long lines of people waiting to vote at polling stations suggested that turnout would be high.
14:35 - EU leaders have been gathering in Brussels for talks on, among other things, Brexit. All EU leaders, except Boris Johnson, are at the meeting.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel had some advice for whoever becomes prime minister of the UK.
“Get the majority in the House of Commons and be able to fulfil the agreement we decided on both sides,” Bettel told reporters. “To have a parliament in London that agrees on the future relationship and all these things very quickly.”
12:08 - Just showing up to the party? Want to know more about what’s happening in the UK — or why this vote matters? Check out our rundown of the issues.
Read more: UK election: What are the big issues?
11:38 – Renowned British actor Hugh Grant called on would-be voters to cast their ballots tactically in order to unseat Conservative leader Boris Johnson.
“There is hope,” he said in a tweet. “I don’t know any young people but if you do please drag them by hair to polling booths.”
11:14 - Fresh from being named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” renowned environmental activist Greta Thunberg has waded into British politics.
“Every election is a climate election,” Thunberg said in a tweet. “Vote for your children. Vote for the planet. Vote for future generations. Vote for humanity.”
10:53 - An Ipsos MORI opinion poll for the Evening Standard newspaper puts the Conservative Party ahead of the Labour Party with an 11-percentage-point lead.
10:16 - Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn cast his vote in Islington, north London. Other political leaders, including the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson and the Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon, have also voted.
09:58 - According to the Queen’s proclamation in November, the new parliament must convene on Tuesday, December 17, just five days after today’s election.
09:14 - How can a party gain a majority of seats in parliament without a majority of the vote? Welcome to the UK. They have a first-past-the-post system, which means the candidate that wins the most votes in a constituency wins that seat in the House of Commons.
That’s how the Liberal Democrats were able to gain more votes in the 2010 general election compared to 2005 and still lose five seats. A party needs 326 seats to have a majority.
08:41 – Conservative leader Boris Johnson cast his vote in London. He appeared at the polling station with his dog Dilyn — and even gave the canine a kiss after voting.
08:38 – Stock markets are up across Europe. London’s benchmark FTSE 100 of major blue-chip companies was up 0.39%, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index rose 0.15%.
08:29 - It’s cold and wet. But despite the weather, long queues have been reported at polling stations across the country.
“What’s a little drizzle of rain anyway?” tweeted Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson.
07:59 - Political leaders took to Twitter to urge eligible voters to go to polling stations and cast a vote for their party. Conservative leader Boris Johnson said it is “our chance to get Brexit done,” while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that a vote for him is a “vote to end austerity.”
07:00 – Good morning! As they did in 2015 and 2017, voters in the UK are heading to the polls for a crucial general election.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservatives campaigned with a promise to “get Brexit done,” while his rival Jeremy Corbyn and the opposition Labour Party have campaigned for a second referendum on whether to leave the European Union.
On the eve of the election, Johnson made an appeal to voters in a video message, urging them to “vote one-nation Conservative party, get Brexit done and move our country forward.”
In his final election rally, Corbyn took one last jab at Johnson, saying: ”Boris Johnson won’t just keep everything the same; he will make it worse … It’s time for real change for the many, not the few.”
What are the issues at stake?
Brexit has dominated the campaign, with political deadlock over the UK’s planned departure from the EU triggering Thursday’s election in the first place. Concerns over Britain’s beloved National Health Service, combating climate change, and Britain’s economy also loomed over campaigning.
ls,rs/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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