Election result: Boris Johnson’s Conservative party set to win landslide, exit poll forecasts

Likely victory for prime minister sets the UK on course to leave the European Union on 31 January

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 12 December 2019 22:21 GMT
General Election: Ballot boxes arrive in Boris Johnson's constituency

Boris Johnson is forecast to win a landslide Conservative majority of 86 in the House of Commons, according to an exit poll commissioned by the BBC, ITV and Sky News.

The survey of voters at polling stations across the UK suggests that Conservatives will win around 368 seats to Labour’s 191, with Liberal Democrats on 13 and the Scottish National Party on 55.

If confirmed when the votes are counted, this would deliver the largest Tory majority since 1987 and would clear the way for Mr Johnson to take the UK out of the European Union on 31 January and enjoy a free hand to implement his programme in a term of at least four and a half years in Downing Street.

The projected result would represent a disaster for Jeremy Corbyn, who will come under intense pressure to stand down as Labour leader after taking the party to two election defeats in a row.

A final tally of 191 would be Labour's worst result since 1935, falling below the 209-seat nadir reached under Michael Foot in 1983.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell did not rule out a change in the leadership when asked on BBC1 whether Mr Corbyn would stand down, saying: “Let’s see the results themselves, and the appropriate decisions will be made. We’ll always make the decisions in the best interests of our party.”

A tally of just 13 for Liberal Democrats would be a deep disappointment for leader Jo Swinson, who went into the election claiming to be a plausible candidate for prime minister, and questions would certainly be raised over her position.

But there will be celebrations for the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, whose party looks set to make close to a clean sweep of the 59 seats north of the border.

Conservative chairman James Cleverly told Sky News he was treating the exit poll with “a degree of caution”, but added: “Maths is maths, and if, big if, the numbers play out as per the exit poll, that is numerically a big majority.”

The pound spiked on news of the exit poll, as markets responded to the prospect of a stable majority government after years of uncertainty.

Home secretary Priti Patel made clear that a majority Tory government will press ahead quickly with legislation to ratify Mr Johnson’s EU withdrawal agreement, with a bill to be tabled in parliament before Christmas, following a Queen’s Speech setting out the new government’s agenda in the coming days.

Withdrawal on 31 January will pave the way for an intensive period of negotiations with Brussels over the terms of a new trade and security relationship, with the risk of a no-deal crash-out on World Trade Organisation terms at the end of 2020.

Ms Patel said: “Getting Brexit done is the priority. The deal is there, it’s good to go. We need to move forward. We’re not waiting – we want to end this paralysis.”

The exit poll suggests Conservative gains of 50 seats and massive Labour losses of 71 seats since the last general election in 2017.

The SNP would gain 20, while Liberal Democrats would gain a single solitary seat – forfeiting the bulk of the advances they have made through defections from the larger parties over the past two years.

Mr McDonnell said that if the final result was “anywhere near” the exit poll forecast, it would be “extremely disappointing for the party overall and for our movement”.

“I think Brexit has dominated everything by the looks of it,” Mr McDonnell told the BBC. ”We thought other issues could cut through and there could be a wider debate. From this evidence they clearly didn’t.”

But he added: “Let me be clear: I’m not sure Brexit will be done as a result of this. I think people on all sides were just frustrated and wanted Brexit out of the way. But the disappointment that they’ll find is that Brexit isn’t going to go away. What will happen is that there’ll be negotiations for a long time.”

A senior Conservative source said: “This is a projection, not a result, it’s important we wait to see the actual results when they come in. What we do know is that voters have rejected Labour’s fudge on Brexit. We needed this election because parliament was doing all it could to frustrate the will of the people.

“A functioning majority would mean we can now finally end the uncertainty and get Brexit done. It would allow the country to come together and move forward by delivering the change people voted for in 2016.”

A Labour Party spokesperson insisted it was “too early to call the result”.

“We, of course, knew this was going to be a challenging election, with Brexit at the forefront of many people’s minds and our country increasingly polarised,” said the spokesperson.

“But Labour has changed the debate in British politics. We have put public ownership, a green industrial revolution, an end to austerity centre stage and introduced new ideas, such as plans for free broadband and free personal care. The Tories only offered more of the same.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in