With only 20 seats left to be declared in Britain’s parliamentary elections Thursday, the Conservatives have emerged the clear largest party in the United Kingdom, with Prime Minister David Cameron set to remain prime minister, without requiring the support of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats.
Of the seats declared by 9.00 am today, the Conservatives have already won 315 seats, with Labour trailing by 228 seats. Britain’s biggest party is projected to win 329 seats, three more than 326 majority in the 650 strong House that it needs to form a government.
The party’s coalition partner, Liberal Democrats fared badly in the election, winning just eight seats, including leader Nick Clegg’s seat in Sheffield Hallam. Five years ago, the LD won 57 seats, making it a vital partner with Cameron’s Conservatives with 306 seats. Now Cameron can afford to dump Clegg and co, with Clegg facing political extinction.
Pollsters were dead wrong to have predicted a close race between Labour and the Conservatives.
“It was a tragic night for Labour”, said Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London.
“This has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour Party,” Labour leader Ed Miliband said after winning his own seat in northern England. “I’m deeply sorry for what has happened.”
Labour fared worst in Scotland, where it won only one seat, like the Conservatives, losing all to the nationalists, SNP. The bulk of the latter’s haul of 56 seats ought
to be Labour’s, but so worsted was Labour that the party’s shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander was beaten by the SNP’s Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old student. Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy also lost his seat in East Renfrewshire to the SNP, just like the former prime minister, Gordon Brown saw his constituency swept away by SNP’s tsunami. Just five years ago, the party that still wants to break the union between Scotland and Great Britain, won just six seats. Its huge gains, were Labour’s huge losses.
By the latest projections, Ed Miliband’s Labour will end up with 233 seats, 25 fewer than it won five years ago.
Cameron campaigned on his record of producing an economic recovery and cutting a record budget deficit, while keeping the anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party at bay with a promise to hold a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union.
The Tories focused their campaign on warnings that a Labour government backed by the separatist SNP would throw Britain into “chaos.”
They also argued that Labour would slow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s deficit-reduction program — the “long-term economic plan” that foresees a budget surplus in 2018-19.
As well as 30 billion pounds ($46 billion) in fiscal consolidation, including cuts in welfare spending, the Tory manifesto pledges reductions in income tax and inheritance tax and the chance for many tenants to buy their homes.
Labour in contrast pledged to reintroduce a tax on bank bonuses, raise the top rate of income tax to 50 percent from 45 percent, freeze energy prices, cap the profits of suppliers to the National Health Service and impose a mansion tax on the most expensive homes. They could not convince the voters and thus ended up miserably as a weakened opposition.
The Tory surge predictably impacted the Forex market with the pound rising 2.2 percent to 72.39 pence per euro at 6:44 a.m. London time, the biggest jump since March 2009. It jumped 1.5 percent to $1.5475. It is also expected that the stocks may jump on opening today.
Mr Cameron all but declared victory in a speech in his Witney constituency, in which he made clear he plans to lead a Tory government, offering an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and to build on the economic foundations laid by the coalition since 2010.
‘My aim remains simple – to govern on the basis of governing for everyone in our United Kingdom,’ he said.
He made clear he was determined not to allow the rising tide of nationalism to lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, saying: ‘I want to bring our country together, our United Kingdom together, not least by implementing as fast as we can the devolution that we rightly promised and came together with other parties to agree both for Wales and for Scotland.
‘In short, I want my party, and I hope a Government I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost – the mantle of One Nation, One United Kingdom. That is how I will govern if I am fortunate enough to form a government in the coming days.’
Additional reports by Mail Online and Bloomberg. Photos and Chart from Mail Online
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