The BBC’s exit poll this evening has predicted that while the Conservatives will remain the largest party after this election, they will fall short of an overall majority.
The poll, carried out by NOP/Ipsos MORI, predicts that the Conservatives will fall 17 seats to 314: 12 short of a majority. Labour is predicted to gain 34, winning 266 in total. The Liberal democrats look on course to gain six, winning 14 overall. For the SNP the total is 34, Plaid Cymru three and the Greens one. Ukip is projected to have none.
Final results will likely differ from the poll: it is a survey of roughly 30,000 people who have voted across the UK. This places it in contrast to polls during the campaign, which surveyed voting intention. But as Tom Clark explains, exit polls have a good record on the whole.
The prediction has confounded analysts, who had for overwhelmingly predicted an increased Conservative majority.
Theresa May, having initially pledged that she would not call a snap general election, did so in April, with the expressed aim of strengthening her hand for the upcoming Brexit negotiations—which begin on 19th June.
If the 10pm prediction is correct, her calculation will have dramatically backfired. If she remains prime minister through Britain’s negotiations with Europe—if, indeed, Britain still leaves Europe—she will likely be held hostage by MPs unsatisfied with her handling of the country’s departure from the EU.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, speaking to the BBC, urged caution against reading the exit poll as the final result. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell echoed this—but noted that if the exit poll is correct, it would “change the nature of politics” in Britain.
The first election results are due before midnight, while the final result will be clear by midday tomorrow.