9:00 AM EST / 2:00 PM GMT
So David Cameron is back inside 10 Downing Street. The 2015 election is over; the task of governing begins. His first job will be to make cabinet appointments, starting with his closest and most strategic ally, George Osborne.
I’ll be back with more analysis over the weekend, and we’ll also be covering the result on the American Interest podcast on Tuesday.
But for now, thanks for your company!
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 8, 2015
UPDATE. With all 650 seats declared, here’s the final result from the BBC:
Lib Dems 8
Plaid Cymru 3
Others 19 (Democratic Unionist Party 8; Sinn Fein 4; SDLP 3; UUP3; independent 1)
Turnout was 66.1%.
8:30 AM EST / 1:30 PM GMT
David Cameron arrives back at 10 Downing Street and poses for photographs with his wife, Samantha, in front of that famous front door. Promises to govern as one nation and to “make Great Britain greater still.”
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 8, 2015
7:30 AM EST / 12:30 PM GMT
The prime minister, David Cameron, arrives at Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) May 8, 2015
7:15 AM EST / 12:15 PM GMT
- David Cameron already has effective control of the House of Commons with 325 seats. With just a handful of seats undeclared, here’s the latest projection:
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 8, 2015
- Ed Miliband concedes the election and resigns as Labour leader. Says “I have done my best.”
SNP wins a landslide in Scotland with 56 out of 59 seats.
Nigel Farage fails to win Thanet South and resigns as UKIP leader–but says he might throw his hat into the ring to be his own successor. UKIP wins c. 4 million votes, but only one MP.
Nick Clegg resigns as leader of the Liberal Democrats after a disastrous night; says that history will judge the party more kindly than the electorate.
Frank Luntz says that if the pollsters got things as badly wrong in the US as they’ve done in UK, there would be a congressional inquiry.
1:30 AM EST / 6:30 AM GMT
Okay, so that’s it folks. With 140 or so seats left to declare, David Cameron is nailed on to return to 10 Downing Street as prime minister. The BBC projection puts the Conservatives on target to hit that magic 323 seats that will effectively give them an overall majority. Like 1992, the pollsters got the result wrong tonight, but David Cameron will not want to repeat the miserable experience of the Conservative prime minister, John Major, who won that election and governed with a small majority. But that’s for the future. Just for today, let’s allow the man to enjoy the moment.
1:00 AM EST / 6:00 AM GMT
George Galloway loses Bradford West. There will a lot of people in British politics reaching for their dictionaries looking up how to spell schadenfreude. “Gorgeous George ” does not applaud his opponent, Naseem Shah, who beat him by more than 10,000 votes. Definitely not “Cool for Cats.”
12:45 AM EST / 5:45 AM GMT
So here’s the prime minister, David Cameron, at his count at Witney. “A very strong night for the Conservative party,” he says. Promises to “govern for everyone in the United Kingdom.” Echoes Disraeli when he says he will “reclaim a mantle we never should have lost: that of one nation.”
12:25 AM EST / 5:25 AM GMT
Ed Miliband on stage for his declaration at Doncaster. Cheers and applause from local loyalists, but he looks like a man who knows he’s won a battle but lost the war. Says it has been “a very difficult and disappointing night for the Labour party.” In effect, it’s a concession speech. The political betting earlier today had Miliband as odds-on to be the next prime minister. Now when Parliament meets again on May 27, he surely won’t even be Labour leader.
Midnight EST / 5:00 AM GMT
George Galloway reported to the police for allegedly tweeting about the election exit poll before its release
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 8, 2015
11:50 PM EST / 4:50 AM GMT
Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, has HELD his seat in Sheffield Hallam. The question is whether, having led his party to such a disastrous national result, he can hang on to the party leadership. It is “painfully clear that this has been a punishing night for the Liberal Democrats,” he says. Is Clegg the new Lord Hartington, the Whig who in 1886 began a relationship with the Conservatives that eventually ended in merger?
11:45 PM EST / 4:45 AM GMT
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is another high profile Lib Dem casualty. In happier time for him, Cable was the man who in 2007 skewered Gordon Brown with his line that the then prime minister had undergone “a remarkable transformation from Stalin to Mr Bean.” He always seemed an unhappy member of the coalition government and thereby personifies one of the strategic failures of the Lib Dems in this election: By distancing themselves from the coalition, the party has not been given credit by voters for the government’s economic achievements.
11:35 PM EST / 4:35 AM GMT
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, wins Uxbridge. If the Conservatives had done badly tonight, Johnson was the odds-on favorite to become leader in the coming weeks. Now he has to bide his time. The last time “BoJo” was in parliament, he fell flat on his face. Now he has to show that he has the seriousness of purpose to match his obvious flair and charisma.
11:20 PM EST / 4:20 AM GMT
Clacton: UKIP HOLD. Douglas Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives to UKIP last year, retains his seat. Commentators are predicting he may be the party’s only MP. Noticeable that the swagger that accompanied his by-election win has gone. Then he was jumping on the bandwaggon; today he looks like a man who realizes he’s trapped on a runaway train.
11:10 PM EST / 4:10 AM GMT
Bermondsey: Lib Dem Simon Hughes, who won the seat in a famous by-election in 1983, has lost his seat. Hughes is fighting back tears; politics is a brutal business. The Lib Dems are being decimated tonight, also losing Eastleigh to the Conservatives.
10:55 PM EST / 3:55 AM GMT
First sighting of Ed Miliband since the polls closed. Not sure if he’s “stony-faced” or just getting into his car …
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) May 8, 2015
10:45 PM EST / 3:45 AM GMT
BBC reporting that anti-war Respect Party MP George Galloway has lost Bradford West. American readers might remember Galloway for his performance in 2005 before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations when he angrily defended himself against charges that he profited from Iraqi oil sales. In Britain he’s known as much for his bizarre cat impression on the “Big Brother” reality TV show.
10:40 PM EST / 3:40 AM GMT
LABS GAINS in Cardiff Central and Burnley. Labour generally only making gains tonight in key marginals when up against the Lib Dems
10:25 PM EST / 3:25 AM GMT
The knives are being sharpened for Labour leader, Ed Miliband.
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) May 8, 2015
10:15 PM EST / 3:15 AM GMT
East Renfrewshire: SNP GAIN. Jim Murphy, Labour leader in Scotland, heavily defeated. The SNP may actually achieve a clean sweep of Scotland tonight. Murphy in a gracious concession speech calls this election “an enormous moment for the SNP.” He may be understating the case. We overuse the word “historic,” but it’s the only one for what’s happening north of the border tonight.
10:05 PM EST / 3:05 AM GMT
Havant: CON HOLD. No surprise in this safe Tory seat, but Alan Mak, born in Hong Kong, becomes the first British-Chinese MP.
First British-Chinese MP elected – Alan Mak for Conservatives in Havant#GE2015
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) May 8, 2015
10:00 PM EST / 3:00 AM GMT
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver reflects on the implications of the pollsters apparently getting the British election so horribly wrong.
The world may have a polling problem: http://t.co/uJrWncJd3a
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 8, 2015
9:50 PM EST / 2:50 AM GMT
Another Lib Dem bites the dust. Jo Swinson’s, a junior minister in the coalition government, loses her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP. The turnout was more than 80%. One of the features of this campaign is the way in which the high level of interest in politics in Scotland generated during last year’s independence referendum has been continued in the general election. And the SNP has caught that tide.
9:45 PM EST / 2:45 AM GMT
Here’s the man who’s looking smarter and smarter as the night goes on: Tory strategist Lynton Crosby–“The Wizard of Oz”. As a master of wedge issues, he plotted four consecutive wins for John Howard in Australia and helped Boris Johnson win a second term as London mayor. His belief all along was that voters would turn to the Conservatives at the last minute in this election, which is exactly where the results seem to be heading.
9:35 PM EST / 2:35 AM GMT
The prime minister, David Cameron, arrives at his constituency count in Oxfordshire.
— ITV News (@itvnews) May 8, 2015
9:25 PM EST / 2:25 AM GMT
Huge result in Paisley: SNP GAIN. Douglas Alexander, Labour election supremo and shadow foreign secretary, heavily defeated by a 20-year old student on 21% swing. If anything symbolizes the SNP replacing Labour as the Establishment party in Scotland, this is it. Mhairi Black reported to be the youngest MP to be elected since 1667.
9:15 PM EST / 2:15 AM GMT
SNP setting out the narrative that a Conservative government would be illegitimate in Scotland. Constitutional nonsense. Prime minister is the party leader who can command the confidence of the House of Commons. Period. But you can see how it will play in Scotland. That may have been what the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, wanted all along. Early in the campaign, she was reported to have said that she wanted David Cameron to stay in Downing Street.
Salmond says Cameron has no legitimacy in Scotland on basis of these results
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 8, 2015
8:55 PM EST / 1:55 AM GMT
Nuneaton: CON HOLD. This was a seat Labour really needed to take if they were going to win tonight–no. 38 on the party’s target list. Instead, there was a 0.7% swing to the Conservatives. With that swing, the Conservatives may even be on target for getting very close to the magic 323 figure for an overall majority. Pollsters left with egg on their faces.
8:50 PM EST / 1:50 AM GMT
Sinn Féin’s Pat Doherty holds West Tyrone. The Irish republican party never takes its seats (refusing to take the oath to the Queen), which is why the effective number for a majority in the House of Commons is 323.
8:40 PM EST / 1:40 AM GMT
Peter Hennessy, doyen of British constitutional historians, reminds us how exhausting minority governments and small majorities can be for a prime minister. “The political winds from Scotland,” he also says, “will make the political weather in Westminster.”
8:25 PM EST / 1:25 AM GMT
Battersea result: CON HOLD. Swing of 1.7 % to Conservatives. Labour had high hopes for London in this election, but the swing the party needed is not happening so far. The results in at this stage are in line with the exit poll, leaving David Cameron still in the box seat.
8:20 PM EST / 1:20 AM GMT
Neil Kinnock, former Labour leader, on BBC TV. He’s got his “1992” face on: Voters put their own financial interests first, he says, “whatever people tell the pollsters.” At the 1992 election, Labour were on target to win the election until days before polling day; even on election night the BBC were predicting a hung parliament; in the end, John Major and the Conservatives won a comfortable majority of 21. Kinnock resigned as Labour leader having lost two elections.
7:55 PM EST / 12:55 AM GMT
Swindon North: Vote for incumbent Conservative MP up 4.3%. Lib Dems vote halved since 2010. Clearly a substantial portion of former Lib Dem voters moved right to the Conservatives not left to Labour. If that kind of swing is repeated throughout the south of England and the midlands tonight, that’s how the Conservatives get to be comfortably the biggest party.
7:40 PM EST / 12:40 AM GMT
Swindon North: CON HOLD. This was seat number 102 on Labour’s target list. MP Justin Tomlinson put a bet on himself as a student that he would become prime minister one day. If it ever happens, he’ll win half a million pounds!
7:20 PM EST / 12:20 AM GMT
Here’s what the UK newspaper front pages look like this (GMT) morning.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) May 7, 2015
7:10 PM EST / 12:10 AM GMT
Lib Dem sources saying that Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury and a leading figure in the coalition government, has lost his seat to the SNP.
7:00 PM EST / 12:00 AM GMT
It’s midnight in the UK. Here’s the story so far. The BBC exit poll says that the Conservatives will be the biggest party, but short of an overall majority. Of the results declared, UKIP is already doing well in the north of England by finishing second in two out the three seats in Sunderland. UKIP is predicted to be the third party in Britain in terms of the popular vote by the end of the night. The poll says that it will be a bad night for the Liberal Democrats, and good one for the Scottish National Party. If the results mirror the exit poll, David Cameron will have the choice of attempting to govern as a minority government, or else will be looking to the remaining Lib Dems to form another coalition government, perhaps with the support of Northern Ireland’s DUP.
6:40 PM EST / 11:40 PM GMT
Sammy Wilson of the DUP says that the people of Northern Ireland will be “looking for some return” if David Cameron or Ed Miliband wants support to form a government. Translation: “Show me the money.”
6:35 PM EST / 11:35PM GMT
Here’s the Labour narrative from Ed Balls: If the exit poll is right, the coalition government’s majority has been cut from 72 to zero. “The right of center majority has disappeared.” Mr Balls is a combative figure, but he looks rattled at being on the defensive so early in the night.
6:30 PM EST / 11:30PM GMT
Sunderland West: LAB HOLD. UKIP beat the Conservatives to take second place.
6:15 PM EST / 11:15PM GMT
Sunderland Central: LAB HOLD. Another safe Labour seat, so no surprise there. UKIP in third place are up 17 %. Is the UKIP 2020 strategy going to be one of the big stories of the night, as the party establishes itself as the principal opposition to Labour in the north of England?
6:00 PM EST / 11:00PM GMT
First piece of gossip from the constituencies. BBC reporting Ed Balls, Labour’s prominent shadow chancellor (finance spokesperson), is in trouble in Morley and Outwood.
5:55 PM EST / 10:55 PM GMT
Here’s the first result: Sunderland South–LABOUR HOLD. It’s a safe Labour seat, but what really matters in this result is that UKIP has moved into second place. UKIP’s longterm strategy is to become the second party throughout the north of England for the next election, probably in 2020. Sunderland South, with a 7% swing to UKIP, suggests the process is underway.
5:45 PM EST / 10:45 PM GMT
UKIP deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, saying the exit poll is wrong. Making pitch for electoral reform, saying the c. 4 million people who may have voted UKIP will not be represented in parliament under the current system.
5:40 PM EST / 10:40 PM GMT
YouGov’s Peter Kellner on the exit poll: “You’re puzzled, I’m puzzled. I suspect everyone in Westminster is puzzled.”
5:30 PM EST / 10:30 PM GMT
Humza Yousaf of the Scottish National Party (SNP) says the political tectonic plates have shifted in Scotland. Says the party stands ready to work with others to lock David Cameron out of 10 Downing Street.
5:25 PM EST / 10:25 PM GMT
Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman says the exit polls shows that the current coalition government’s majority has been wiped out.
5:20 PM EST / 10:20 PM GMT
Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, saying he will “eat his hat” if the exit poll is right. When asked about renewing the coalition with the Conservatives. he says the party will “put the national interest first.”
5:15 PM EST / 10:15 PM GMT
Michael Gove, the Chief Whip, is already telling the BBC that if the exit poll is right, the Conservatives have clearly won. That will be their narrative tonight–claiming legitimacy.
5:10PM EST / 10:10 PM GMT
The polls have closed. BBC exit poll predicting the Conservatives as the biggest party on 316 seats with Labour on 239 seats. The Lib Dems are on a disastrous 10–down 47 seats. The Scottish National Party have swept Scotland. If these figures turn out to be right, David Cameron is ten seats short of an overall majority. That would leave him looking to the Liberal Democrats or the DUP from Northern Ireland to get him across the line.
4:55 PM EST / 9:55 PM GMT:
Good evening American Interest readers. Welcome to the UK general election!
Polling stations will close in five minutes. All the pre-election opinion polls have predicted a “hung parliament” with both the main parties—Conservative and Labour—likely to need the support of smaller parties to command a majority in the House of Commons. But that’s what the pollsters said in 1992, and instead there was a clean result. So let’s take nothing for granted tonight.
Readers in the United States can watch full coverage of the results on BBC World News and C-SPAN. Readers around the world can listen to the BBC World Service. And there will be updates, analysis and gossip from this Brit in America throughout the evening–all brought to you by The American Interest.