Election results: Exit polls suggest Jeremy Corbyn could be Prime Minister as leader of progressive alliance

Labour leader could take power as head of a 'rainbow coalition'

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Jeremy Corbyn could be on course to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, according to the general election exit poll.

The shock poll predicts the Conservatives will fall short of an overall majority, despite beginning the campaign with a huge lead.

As leader of the party that seems certain to win the most seats, Theresa May will have the first opportunity to form a government.

However, should she prove unable to pass key legislation such as a budget or Queen's Speech, Mr Corbyn could be asked by the Queen to attempt to form a government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Greens. 

The exit poll suggests such a coalition would have 323 seats, which, if Sinn Fein follows its tradition of not taking its seats in Parliament, would be enough for a tiny majority. In contrast, the Conservatives are predicted to have won 314 seats. 

The poll, conducted by election expert Professor John Curtice for the BBC, Sky and ITV, stunned the country by predicting Theresa May's gamble in calling an early election could have backfired.

However, the 2015 exit poll underestimated support for the Conservatives and predicted they would win 15 fewer seats than they actually did. Should that prove to be true again, Ms May would have a majority similar to the one she held before the election. 

If the poll is correct, though, Mr Corbyn could find himself set for Number Ten. Labour has ruled out forming a formal coalition but could find itself as the biggest party in an informal "confidence and supply" arrangement in which the other parties support a Labour budget and Queen's Speech but do not formally take part in the government.  

The Liberal Democrats have said they will not form any formal coalitions in the case of a hung parliament, while the SNP has said it would be willing to be part of a "progressive coalition".

Nicola Sturgeon, the party's leader, previously told the BBC: “If there was to be a hung Parliament of course we would look to be part of a progressive alliance that pursued progressive policies.”

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell re-iterated the party's position on Thursday night, telling the BBC: "Tim Farron made it very clear: he said no pact, no deal, no coalition. We’ve had our fingers burned by coalition, I don’t need to tell you that."

"I find it very, very difficult to see how Tim Farron would be able to go back on what he’s previously said and indeed to persuade the membership of the Liberal Democrats that a coalition would be a good idea from our point of view."

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said she would be willing to help support a Labour-led coalition. 

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