UK elections: Exit poll projects landslide victory for Keir Starmer's Labour

Keir Starmer said the people of the country are "ready for change" and to "end the politics of performance"

"I will fight your corner every single day," said Keir Starmer (photo: @Keir_Starmer/X)
"I will fight your corner every single day," said Keir Starmer (photo: @Keir_Starmer/X)


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may be on course for a bruising defeat with his Labour Party rival Keir Starmer set for a landslide win, according to the definitive election night exit poll released on Thursday, 4 July as polling stations across the country closed in the landmark UK general election.

According to the exit poll, which is often quite close to the final tally, Labour could win as many as 410 seats, comfortably crossing the half way 326 mark and notching up a 170-seat majority with the incumbent Tories down to just 131 seats.

Starmer, looking set to take charge at 10 Downing Street on Friday, 5 July took to social media with a message for voters: "To everyone who has campaigned for Labour in this election, to everyone who voted for us and put their trust in our changed Labour Party — thank you."

His party's wins started to stack up with Houghton and Sunderland in north-east England becoming the very first constituency to declare its result in favour of Labour’s candidate Bridget Phillipson as counting kicked off up and down the country.

Sunak also took to social media a little after the ominous exit poll results with his message: "To the hundreds of Conservative candidates, thousands of volunteers and millions of voters: Thank you for your hard work, thank you for your support, and thank you for your vote."

His future as leader of the Conservative Party now hangs in the balance, hours after the British Indian leader and the man who wants his job – Starmer – were among the first few voters to cast their votes along with millions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Earlier on Thursday as voting began, Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty walked hand-in-hand to their local polling booth on a sunny day in his constituency of Richmond and Northallerton in Yorkshire, northern England. A little later, Starmer and wife Victoria were at their polling station in Camden, north London, sporting Labour red colours.

Sunak, 44, was facing the impossible challenge of overcoming voter anger against the incumbent Tories after 14 years in power. The 61-year-old Keir Starmer-led Labour Party, meanwhile, maintained a strong lead over the Tories throughout the six-week campaign.

Both leaders wrapped up their poll pitches with contrasting messages -- Sunak urging voters not to hand "tax-raising" Labour a "supermajority" and Starmer playing down the prospect of a landslide win for fear of a low turnout impacting the final outcome. Sunak continued to drive home the message on his X account, asking voters: "Can you trust Labour with a supermajority?"

Candidates were fielded for 650 constituencies across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with 326 required for a majority in the first past the post system.

Besides the two main parties, voters were choosing from a list of candidates representing the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Scottish National Party (SNP), SDLP, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Sinn Fien, Plaid Cymru, Workers' Party, the anti-immigration Reform Party and several contesting as Independent.

Around 40,000 polling booths were operating across the country from 7 am local time for an estimated 46 million registered voters to mark a cross next to their chosen candidate on a paper ballot.

Polling experts have forecast a low turnout, which stood at 67 per cent in the last general election in December 2019 when Johnson won 365 seats, giving him an 80-seat majority. Labour won 202 seats, the SNP 48, the Lib Dems 11, DUP eight, Sinn Fein seven, Plaid Cymru four, SDLP two, Alliance party one, and Greens one.

The UK has a five-year general election cycle and Sunak had until January 2025 to go to the polls but chose a surprise summer election when he named July 4 as the voting date in May. It is the first time he sought the voters' mandate, having been chosen Tory leader and Britain's first Indian heritage Prime Minister by the Conservative Party membership following political turmoil in October 2022.

The general election was also the first test at the ballot box for Keir Starmer, who took over from Jeremy Corbyn after Labour's defeat in 2019.

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