Election night 2017 as-it-happens

Ian Dunt By

15:42

We're closing down this live blog after the most dramatic 24 hours British politics has seen in a long time - moreso than even the Brexit vote. When this election was called it seemed like it would be a dull victory procession. It proved to be anything but.

14:50

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said the party will enter discussions with the Conservatives. 

13:39

Donald Tusk has written to Theresa May to congratulate her on being reappointed prime minister and warning that the timeframe set by Article 50 leaves no time to lose.

"On behalf of the European Council, I would like to congratulate you on your reappointment as prime minister.

"Our shared responsibility and urgent task now is to conduct the negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union in the best possible spirit, securing the least disruptive outcome for our citizens, businesses and countries after March 2019. The timeframe set by Article 50 of the Treaty leaves us with no time to lose. I am fully committed to maintaining regular and close contact at our level to facilitate the work of our negotiators.

"I also look forward to welcoming you to the European Council later this month where we will discuss counter-terrorism, security and defence, trade and the Paris Agreement amongst other issues."

13:00

Well there we go. She didn't acknowedge the shock of last night's result at all. It sounded more like a straightforward victory speech with just a quick line dropped in about the DUP. However, there were no details about the deal she has done with them so we're still in the dark on that.

She was keen to repeat the messages she has been pushing since she first became prime minister about fairness and a country where nobody is left behind. And although she didn't use the now much ridiculed term "strong and steady" she did talk about the need for certainty as we enter Brexit negotiations.

It was almost as if last night never happened.

12:52

Prime minister: "I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen, and I will now form a government – a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country.

"This government will guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days and deliver on the will of the British people by taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

"It will work to keep our nation safe and secure by delivering the change that I set out following the appalling attacks in Manchester and London – cracking down on the ideology of Islamist extremism and all those who support it. And giving the police and the authorities the powers they need to keep our country safe.  

"The government I lead will put fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do, so that we fulfil the promise of Brexit together and - over the next five years - build a country in which no one and no community is left behind.

"A country in which prosperity and opportunity are shared right across this United Kingdom.

"What the country needs more than ever is certainty, and having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the General Election, it is clear that only the Conservative & Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.

"As we do, we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular. Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years, and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.

"This will allow us to come together as a country and channel our energies towards a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone in this country – securing a new partnership with the EU which guarantees our long term prosperity

"That's what people voted for last June.

"That's what we will deliver.

Now let's get to work.

12:51

The prime minister is back in Downing Street and about to give a speech

12:21

Theresa May is on her way to the Palace to ask the Queen for permission to form a government.

12:12

Sturgeon is paying tribute to Angus Robertson, the SNP's Westminster leader, who lost his seat last night: "A politician and parliamentarian of immense stature who week after week held the prime minister to account.

She now talks about Alex Salmond, the former leader of the SNP of course, who also lost his seat: "I want to make particular mention of Alex Salmond, my friend and mentor for almost 30 years and without a shadow of a doubt the giant of modern Scottish politics."

12:11

And now Nicola Sturgeon is up: "The prime minister has lost all authority and credibility. In Scotland the SNP won this election, we have more seats than all the other parties combined."

12:08

Farron says that Theresa May should resign.

12:06

Farron goes on to pay tribute to Nick Clegg, who lost his seat last night: "Nick Clegg is a giant of British politics, a friend and a hero to me and countless others. Not only did he lead our party into government for the first time in generations, he did so in the most difficult circumstances."

12:03

Ian is off for a little while now so it's Natalie Bloomer here. 

Tim Farron is giving a speech: "We have made progress in incredibly difficult circumstances and we face a new parliament in a far stronger position than we left the last one. I am delighted to welcome back some old friends: Jo Swinson, Vince Cable, Ed Davey. We are, of course, bolstering our ranks with those big figures who have served our country in government. We will now be able to put their talent and experience to shaping what comes next."

10:44

And he announces his resignation. That's five Ukip leaders in nine months.

10:41

Paul Nuttall currently giving a speech. "With Brexit, we may well have won the war, but we could lose the peace. There is no getting away from the fact this is a unique election that came about at an inopportune time for our party. The prime minister was able to talk the talk while not walking the walk. It has put our Brexit at risk. I wish the prime minister, whoever that is, all the very best. I hope whoever leads the team gets the best deal for the British people, they will however, only get a good deal if they believe in our great country and they are genuinely prepared to walk away if the Brussels bureaucrats put a bad deal on the table. I hope they genuinely believe in Britain but something in my head says otherwise. Ukip are now, more than ever after last night, the guard dogs of Brexit."

09:28

The rumours currently going around are that the Tories really intend to keep May as leader and want to stick to the timetable on Brexit talks - in other words, to start in ten days. That's mad. Far more mad than the nonsense McDonnell is peddling. It is absurd to pretend May could go into those negotiations with any authority whatsoever. She'll have none in Brussels and none back home. It is entirely legitimate for her to stay on while she tries to sort out a deal with the DUP, asks for a delay in talks, then presides over a leadership contest. But that's the full extent of what she should be doing. After that, she should fade into the background as quickly as possible. It's weird that they haven't recognised this. I'm yet to speak to a single Tory who believes she can stay.

09:03

Some very strange shenanigans going on with John McDonnell. He's touring the TV studios insisting Labour is ready to form a minority administration. You can see he's enjoying himself and that he feels he has momentum. But the numbers aren't there. You can splice them, dice them or fry them with onions, but they're not there. So if they hold a vote on their policies, as they say they will, and dare other parties to support them, they will find that they… er… don't. It's maths. There are more Tories and DUP MPs than there are all the others, so even if Labour convince the other parties to back them, it won't pass. It's hard to see how this ends in any scenario other than a Tory minority administration reliant on the DUP.

07:28

From Chaminda:

To get an idea of how disastrous this election has been for the Conservatives, look at what has happened in the Labour held seats that the Tories were targeting yesterday but didn't win:

See how those 2015 majorities have risen astronomically - especially, but not exclusively, in London. Ealing Central and Acton has gone from a 274 vote majority to nearly 14,000 - a 25% majority in what has overnight become a rock solid Labour safe seat. In Chester, a 93 vote Labour majority is now more than 9,000 votes.

In fact, of these 31 seats, only nine now have Labour majorities under ten per cent. Only in six did the Labour majority shrink. Only two of these seats have Labour majorities below five per cent.

It will require a big effort to now take some of these seats in future - while the London seats look completely out of reach.

It is a terrible outcome for the Tories.

05:48

More from Chaminda:

A lot of people will be delighted about this election result. They are absolutely within their rights to be. Jeremy Corbyn has secured a far better result than even his strongest supporters really expected. Austerity looks politically unsustainable. London has delivered the Tories a massive bloody nose - as have other seats  across the country, many of them Leave-voting.

Labour is still likely to fall around sixty seats short of an overall majority - this is not the time to ask how they will win a majority, but at some point a brave soul may ask it. Nevertheless, a left-wing manifesto has been the breakout success of this election. That matters.

Lets be clear though - this morning, Britain stands on the brink of a political crisis. It looks certain that we will not have a majority government. The prime minister may resign. The most likely coalition - formal or informal - will be with the volatile DUP at a moment of maximum sensitivity in Northern Irish politics.

There is no viable lasting government on the table.  We could be heading for a Tory leadership contest. We could be heading for another election. We are into a two-year Brexit negotiation period with no way of negotiating and nothing to negotiate.

The British political class this morning looks horribly inadequate, particularly on its right flank - the gamesmanship of successive Conservative leaders has driven Britain to the brink. May went to the country for a mandate for vacuous stability and the country has thrown it in her face.

The Tories are terribly split on Brexit, and on its leadership, as seen by this morning's sniping between Iain Duncan Smith and Anna Soubry.

But Labour has neutered immigration and Brexit as electoral issues by simply signing up to a hard Brexit that leaves the single market and ends freedom of movement. A lot of the committed Remainers who voted for them have projected their own views of Brexit onto the Labour manifesto. Former Ukip voters who have crucially backed the party may not tolerate backsliding on these issues. We don't know - nor does Labour.

But it seems an odd time for them to simply junk their manifesto commitments. Labour's most feasible partners in government - the SNP - have an interest in portraying any Westminster government, but especially a left-wing one, as opposed to Scotland's will.

Britain remains a divided country, in a mess of its own making and the laughing stock of Europe. This is going to get worse before it gets better.

05:27

Chuka Umunna, Labour Mp for Streatham and a leading critic of Brexit, is presenting the result as a rejection of hard Brexit.

He said at his victory speech:

"The indications this evening are that the British people have fundamentally rejected her vision for Brexit and her negative campaign.

“We all recognise the clear result of last year’s referendum, but I have always argued that nobody voted in that referendum to become poorer. Therefore, we must remain in the Single Market and in the Customs Union.

“EU citizens here should have their rights guaranteed with immediate effect. And Leave campaigners like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove must be held to account for the promises they made."

04:55

Well Amber Rudd, home secretary, has survived by the skin of her teeth - about 300 votes.

04:52

The Tories have a real long-term problem.

This election was a once in a generation chance for them to redraw the electoral map, to drive their much mentioned tanks deep into Labour territory.

The local elections a month ago showed possible gains in unthinkable Labour heartlands - Blyth Valley, North West Durham. Even after the Tories faltered, they still had a shot at seats like Bishop Auckland and Scunthorpe.

Not anymore.

The Tories have gone backwards in numerous regions - they have not just lost seats on big swings in England, but they've gone backwards in Wales, been obliterated in London swing seats, and had a terrible time in southern seats the party could not have contemplated losing.

Swings from Tory to Labour of ten per cent are visible around the country. Home Secretary Amber Rudd is in desperate trouble. These are not seats whose demography favoured Labour. But Jeremy Corbyn hoovered up Remain votes and held on to Leave voters who were looking for an alternative to May's drudgery and gruel.

The future has arrived with warp speed. Young voters turned up in huge numbers, and turnout was up across the board - not just in student seats. And this is as what currently looks like a Tory-led government, of whatever form, heads into fiendish Brexit negotiations with the economy weakening alarmingly.

Tory MPs who clung on are sitting targets whenever the next election comes - and it can't be long, as British politics descends to the level of Italy. Labour seats that the Tories had been eyeing are now miles out of reach.

The Tories wanted to rebrand themselves as the party of workers, but then came out with a string of indescribably stupid missteps - the idiotic own goal of repealing the ban on fox hunting, the shambles of the dementia tax, the double-edged self-own of axeing universal free school meals without ending school funding cuts.

Theresa May asked voters who had never voted Tory to trust her and lend her their votes. She then reminded them exactly why they had never voted Tory. Tonight is the result.

The Tory brand is a total mess. May has wasted this Brexit-born chance to restore the party's reputation around the country. What issue can now ever persuade those voters, in those seats, having abandoned Ukip, to vote Conservative? How can the Conservatives ever secure London marginals that have become Labour safe seats overnight, such as Tooting and Ealing Central and Acton? How can the party win the votes of the young people who have overnight become a genuine force in British politics?

The Scottish Conservatives have bailed out the Westminster party and their discredited shambles of May, Philip Hammond, Lynton Crosby and Nick Timothy. They don't have time to find a new strategic direction before Brexit crushes everything in its path.

The Tory party is the most enduring and adaptable party in Britain, but this no-brainer of a snap election has crashed and burned because the party has failed to adapt. Seven years of Conservative austerity has created a social crisis and sense of utter alienation that the party has just assumed could carry on with no new money and no new ideas.

The Tories' ceiling is suddenly a very low one.

03:59

More from Chaminda:

This is turning into the most extraordinary result I have ever seen.

YouGov's controversial model is being proved right but what really gave us a clue - though not an unarguable one - is that in the last two weeks, the NHS surged to the top of the list of voters' concerns.

Above the economy, above leadership, above security, above immigration. These are the key areas that were supposed to have most salience, just as they did in 2015. Not anymore.

Many Corbyn supporters will say this campaign should have been run in 2015 - Ed Miliband himself has said as much. It may have denied the Tories a majority.

But two years ago the deficit and welfare were much larger issues, immigration was much higher on the agenda pre-Brexit, and crucially the cuts had been dumped on welfare claimants, community and mental health services, and social care users who received little media coverage or support.

Now that has changed. A&E services are on the ropes. Schools are facing huge cuts - the subject of an absolutely brilliant campaign by teachers, the unions, and Labour. In-work benefits are being squeezed. Philip Hammond's austerity agenda - surely now dead in the water - tied May's hands. There is a lot of blame to go round.

But for Labour's forward looking, optimistic - in both senses of the word - and ambitious programme has given people what they wanted. After more than seven years with the Treasury boot on their throat, Britain is gasping for air - including people who voted for Ukip.

That, more than anything else, more than Brexit even, explains this result.

03:30

Corbyn has won in north London with a huge majority. Here are some excerpts from his speech.

"The election campaign has gone on for past six weeks. I've travelled the whole country. You know what? Politics has changed. Politics isn't going back into box it was in before. People have said they've had quite enough of austerity politics. I'm very, very proud of the campaign my party has run. If there is a message from tonight's result, it's this. The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she's got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough to go, actually, and make way for a government that's truly representative of the people of this country."

May has also won, with a similarly thumping majority. Some excerpts from her:

"Returns are still coming in. We have yet to see the full picture. But at this time more than anything else this country needs period of stability. And if, as forecasts show, the Conservative party has won most seats and most votes, it is incumbent upon us to have that period of stability and that's what we will do. I would like to thank those who voted Conservative. As we look ahead and wait to see what the results will be, the country needs a period of stability and whatever the results are the Conservative party will fulfill our responsibility in that period for stability, so that we can go forward as a country together."

03:05

More from Chaminda:

SNP and Lib Dems fall foul of the trap of Twitter

The SNP were never going to be able to maintain their 2015 revolution, but they are having an absolutely terrible night. They are losing seats they should be holding. Losing to Labour, losing to the Tories, losing to the Lib Dems. They will remain the main party in Scotland, but this is a body blow.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems in England are having an awful night. Nick Clegg has gone. Tim Farron is on a knife edge. Sarah Olney is in trouble.

What  links these two parties are pledges to hold referendums. In the wake of the Brexit result the SNP called for a second independence referendum. The Lib Dems called for a referendum on the final Brexit deal, which got unhelpfully billed as a 'second' referendum.

Both were ostensibly logical responses to post-Brexit opinion. Angry Remainers would flock to the Lib Dems. SNP supporters would turn out in a great tide for another independence vote.

It's not happening.

The volume of activists and social media demands for reruns of lost votes was deafening - but it was narrow. Continuity Remain turns out to have been a very narrow band of opinion that gave up on the Lib Dems after their terrible start to the election campaign - and the Brexit-voting southwest had no interest in backing the party that once dominated the region.

Meanwhile, Scottish voters are tactically voting to oust SNP MPs - and in some cases SNP voters have crossed over directly to vote against a second independence referendum.

It's an enduring lesson for politicians - just because there's noise from the noisiest, doesn't mean the silent majority agree.

03:00

Well it's Lib Dem musical chairs. Nick Clegg is gone. And Vince Cable is back. Tim Farron is reportedly on a knife edge.

02:41

OK look, it's still very early for this, but let's talk about what this means for Brexit. All of this is subject to change and is said on the basis that things continue for the rest of the night as they have done so far.

The first thing to put to bed is any notion that this result stops Brexit. It does not. But it may offer a consensus against hard Brexit. This is hard to assess because Labour were so vague on the details but it seems unlikely, on the current showing, that there'll be a majority in the Commons for leaving the single market and the customs union.

Labour in reality has two camps on Brexit - Keir Starmer and Corbyn. The former wants to try to renegotiate free movement terms and stay in the single market, the latter seems to want out. But putting the party policy to one side, it's not clear that MPs in a parliament formed under these results would ever vote to leave the single market.

A lot now comes down to how seats go. How many Leave-voting seats go to Labour? Where does that Ukip vote go? This will all dictate the kind of approach we might see in the wake of the vote.

That all assumes Labour are in a position to do anything. We are currently seeing SNP seats fall to the Tories. That could leave them able to form a government. It is absurd to think that Remain-voting Scotland would be responsible for that, but it could well be the case. The fact it is hapening at all also counts against a Brexit-interpretation of the vote. So too does the failure of the Lib Dems to really break through.

However, we should be clear. There is a Remain swell here, not least in the big cities and among the young, who overwhelmingly voted Remain and despise the nativist 1950s fairy story May delivered relentlessly since becoming leader. Even if there is no direct Brexit policy effect, this is a resounding rejection of her mean-spirited, authoritarian, interpretation of the vote. Whoever takes over must continue in a more consensual manner.

Just as important is the timetable. There's really no way now that May can stay. That means that even if we see the Tories continue, which would be the path of least change, there needs to be a leadership election. That's more time, with the Article 50 ticking down, and Europe still waiting for the British team to sit down in a couple of weeks for talks. If the British team have any sense, the first thing they will do is ask for an extension on that two-year Article 50 deadline.

02:22

Angus Robertson, SNP Westminster leader, has lost his seat to the Conservatives. I generally welcome nationalist losses in this election, but I must say that this is a terribly sad development. Robertson almost singlehandedly took on the job of opposition leader when Corbyn failed to challenge May at PMQs and he was ferocious and tireless in taking on Brexit. He had a rare gravitas in the Commons and was a powerful orator. It's a sad bit of news. 

02:03

It also seems near certain now that Phillip Davies, a Tory MP hated by left-wingers and especially feminists for his reactionary views, has lost his seats. Left-wing Twitter right now is having some sort of euphoric breakdown.

02:01

Battersea belongs to Labour. 

Lib Dems: 4,401

Labour: 25,292

Tories: 22,876

01:38

Tom Watson has won his seat. In his speech he said it already looked like May was in serious trouble. "She is a damaged prime minister, whose reputation may never recover. People have responded to a positive campaign. People vote for hope."

01:25

From Chaminda:

Labour have held Wrexham, which the Tories were forecast by the win in the exit poll. Instead the Tories are looking set to lose seats in Wales - closer to the Welsh polling of Roger Scully.

This could be a huge problem for the Tories - if the Tories are underperforming in Wales and are losing ground, then they start to fall short of even their awful exit poll position.

At that point, a Labour coalition or minority government starts looking much more likely given the absence of potential Tory partners.

A Tory landslide over Corbyn was the last safe bet in Christendom. God is dead.

01:19

Some very encouraging results for Labour coming in. They failed to take South Swindown off the Tories but slashed their majority from 6,000 to 2,000. That'll send shivers down the spines of officials at Conservative HQ. Wrexham - a Tory target which at one point Labour had all-but given up on keeping - has been retained by Labour. The exit poll didn't expect that, so here at least they are outperforming it. And finally they have taken Rutherglen off the SNP. It's a tiny majority of just 265, but that involved a 16% drop in SNP support. It's looking very positive indeed for Corbyn.

00:45

More from Chaminda:

This is now looking like a historic transformative election in this country.

It seems all manner of rules are being smashed to bits by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.

Reports of Labour winning in Battersea, in Reading, in Ipswich, in Kensington suggests that the overtly left wing Labour manifesto, with its overtly left wing leader, could take chunks of Tory seats in Middle England.

For middle class voters to be backing the Labour manifesto isn't a total shock - it protected 95% of people from tax rises whilst spending big on schools and the NHS - but for them to vote for Corbyn is a much bigger deal.

All kinds of things change - the importance of being seen as the better leader with the greater economic credibility is heavily downgraded, the importance of the right-wing press is blown to pieces, the vice-like grip of older voters disappears.

Jeremy Corbyn could become prime minister. It's going to be a long night. The morning could last for years.

00:30

More from Chaminda:

Reports are that Hastings and Rye is heading for a recount, which could lead to Amber Rudd, the home secretary and hotly tipped possible future chancellor or even Tory leader, being unceremoniously dumped out of parliament - this year's Portillo moment.

If the Tories lose Hastings and indeed Portsmouth South, then it looks like a really problematic night for the Conservatives in their old stronghold in Southern England.

The swing to Labour in North Swindon is ominous for the Tories, given that it seems Ukip voters are breaking for Labour and not the Conservatives.

And these are seats that voted to leave the EU.

This could suggest problems for the Tories in Plymouth, their one Bristol seat, Stroud, Reading, Brighton Kemptown - and any number of seats gained from the Lib Dems last time out.

23:53

It's increasingly clear that that referendum basically broke this country. Not only has it completely reorientated our politics - and not in a particularly healthy way - but it seems to have fractured the standing assumptions of how people vote and created scenarios where the UK is basically ungovernable. As I said before, that Article 50 clock is ticking. It is ticking because May decided to trigger it and then hold an election. If we need another election Europe will be forced to watch again while we debate again and possibly end up with the same non-result again. It would seem as if Britain were broken on the world stage. A toddler smashing toys one by one while adults look by, exasperated.

23:49

Another Sunderland vote comes in showing Tories doing considerably better and Labour considerably worse. Are we seeing an underrepresentation of Tory performance in Leave seats? Is this to do with postal votes, which we think went hard for the Conservatives? Or perhaps this is just an isolated blip - reports from other areas suggest a very strong Labour performance. There is currently no clear picture.

23:45

Some details from Chaminda on what to look out for over the next few hours.

12:30pm
Swindon North - key Middle England seat, big 22% Tory majority with a decent Ukip vote too; not many students but fairly evenly balanced between younger and older voters. If Labour is making up ground here, that's a good sign for other seats like Worcester.

1am
Battersea - rapid gentrification turned this into comfortable Tory territory last time out, with a 15% majority. But the area voted Remain and Labour is hopeful it can secure a major London bounce. If this seat - heaving with university-educated young professionals - falls to Labour, then the Tories are in huge trouble in London.

Nuneaton - the iconic seat of the Tories' surprise 2015 victory, if Labour is getting near its exit poll performance it will come close here. It will also tell us something about how Ukippers are breaking in the West Midlands

1.30am
Darlington - this north eastern seat is a key Brexit-voting target for the Tories. If the Conservatives don't outright win this seat, they are having a bad night. They need to win the bulk of the Ukip vote and hope there hasn't been a big turnout of younger voters - many of whom won't be university-educated metropolitans.

Wrexham - the Welsh polling had shown Labour strengthening in the principality after a rocky start; instead the exit poll has shown the Tories doing far better in Wales than in England. This seat is being forecast to go to the Tories. They need it.

23:28

OK, so let's put those results to one side and assume the exit poll is still accurate. Short of a coaolition, could some sort of informal arrangement work out with a minority Tory administration? It's not impossible. Firstly, May would have to go. A Tory leader would be needed who was acceptable to the Tory party but could work with Labour on a vote by vote basis for Brexit. Who would that be? Philip Hammond has been the most vocal in his criticism of the Tory Brexit policy, but it's not clear the Conservative party  would accept him. Boris Johnson would be more tolerable to them, or perhaps Amber Rudd. Any of these three would probably adopt a softer approach to Brexit than May has done. But honestly, this is just daydreaming at this stage. It is very difficult indeed to imagine a scenario in which something like this would work. It is far more likely that we would have to have another election. And all the while that Article 50 clock ticks down, down, down. We are well and truly in the chaos scenario.

23:08

Sunderland result

Lib Dems: 908

Tories: 12,324

Ukip: 2,379

Labour: 24, 665

Again, this is the not the level of swing we'd expect from that exit poll. There is a swing here of 3.5% from Labour to the Tories. It seems the Ukip vote broke down and split mostly for the Tories but a bit for Labour. Nevertheless, these results wil be cheering the Tories. But these are both safe Labour seats relatively close by, so it may be a regional thing.

23:03

OK so that was obviously expected, but the change in the vote is interesting. Labour is up ten per cent on last time, but only with a 2.1% swing to Labour from the Tories. That's nowhere near the seven per cent swing in that exit poll.

23:01

Newcastle Central has the firsat result of the night

Lib Dem: 1,812

Tories: 9,134

Ukip: 1,482

Labour: 24,071

22:51

Initial analysis from my colleague Chaminda Jayanetti:

"In two words, these numbers would make Britain practically ungovernable. A left-leaning coalition - formal or informal - will have around five parties, with deep splits over single market membership and free movement, and with the SNP existentially needing to portray Westminster (especially a Labour government in Westminster) as being out of touch with Scotland.

"The Tories would be reliant on the DUP with Northern Ireland in a very sensitive situation, or the Lib Dems who want to stay in the single market, which the Tories have ruled out.

"Meanwhile Theresa May is mortally wounded with her own knife."

22:25

I've stopped laughing now, but I can't guarantee that will continue. Ok, so let's say these results are completely accurate. For the record they almost certainly are not. We understand that lots of these seats are very tight, so the final result will surely be quite wide of what we're seeing now. But anyway, we then get into the mucky maths. The magic number you need to hit is 325, that gives you the majority. There's some mess around that - basically because the Speaker and their deputies don't count and Sinn Fein don't either because they won't swear allegiance to the Queen. But that's basically the number you're aiming for. This type of scenario is better for Labour than the Tories, because there are more parties they can work with. For the Tories it's just the DUP and UUP. Labour could work with the SNP, the Lib Dems, the Greens, the SDLP and Plaid. But even there it's hard to see them stitching together enough seats on these numbers. But anyway, the opposition parties have mostly ruled out forming a coalition. The question then becomes whether one side or the other could form a minority administration.

22:08

OK, so lets sound some notes of caution. Firstly, you want to give the exit poll a margin of error of about 20 seats either way. Add 20 seats to the Tories (they did better than the exit poll in 2015) and they're back in majority territory. But even then, not a strong one. She'd basically have reached where she started. It's also entirely unclear that anyone could form a government if this is the final result. To know that we'd need more info on the N.Ireland parties. I'll write more on that in a moment. First I have to stop laughing. 

22:03

Guys, we're in for a long and very entertaining night.

22:01

Ok the exit poll is in. It is extraordinary.

Conservatives: 314

Labour: 266

Lib Dems: 34

SNP:14

Plaid 3

21:52

I have started with one of the beers.

21:50

More importantly, here are my supplies for the night (delivery pizza not included). I am of two minds as to combo on the coffee-booze with the Baileys cans, or alternate between coffee and booze to reach morning. Any suggestions on this matter, or other crucial political issues, gratefully recieved - email me at ian.dunt@politics.co.uk.

21:48

Of course, it is perfectly possible that we get a hung parliament, as YouGov has suggested. That remains unlikely, although it would be very funny. If it happens it'll be quite the upset and tonight will suddenly get a considerably more interesting.

21:40

Your mileage on what is a win or a loss for the parties will vary, but for the record here's mine. This is a strange election. Theresa May will almost certainly win, Jeremy Corbyn will almost certainly lose. So the question really is how they do relatively. Given May launched this election at a point where it ate up Article 50 time and that it has had a heavy toll on the general appraisal of her abilities, I think anything south of a 60 seat majority is a problem for her. Anything north of that won't necesarily save her, but she will be able to make a solid case for why she held the election in the first place. Anything above100 makes her safe, in my eyes and will considered a vindication. For Corbyn it is more complicated. We are really assessing whether his loss is severe enough in terms of seats or vote share for it boost those on the centre of the party when they try to get rid of him. On vote share, which his supporters point to as a key test for his performance, there are two bechmarks: MIliband in 2015 and Blair, the old enemy, in 2005. The former secured 30.4%, the latter 35.2%. If they get more than the first they can say with some credibility that they are going in the right direction. If they surpass the second, they can make a very good case for it and it will have tremendous symbolic value. But the reality is that the party could get a very strong vote share but still be devastated in terms of seats, especially if they pile on votes in metropolitan areas or university towns. 

21:23

And we're off. There's just half an hour to go until that exit poll is released. That poll has turned into legend a bit since 2015 and it is good. It uses a huge sample size - I think it's about 20,000 - from carefully chosen constituencies. It also only questions those who have definitely voted, because it is conducted outside polling stations. So that messy issue of whether people - especially young people - will actually vote is no longer a problem. But still, it's not a biblical tablet. It's very good for giving you the ballpark outcome, but not the specifics.  

09:55

Why hello there. You're here early. There'll be no Politics.co.uk coverage today, because the nation is going to the polls and there isn't much to say about that really. Also there are laws around what you can and can't say as journalists on days like this which we frankly don't understand, so we tend to just stay on the safe side and shut up.

Our coverage of the election results will start at around 9:30pm tonight, just before polls close. You may remember that 10pm moment from 2015 when all your hopes were crushed, a state in which they have largely remained until today. Perhaps tonight will be different. Perhaps not. Perhaps even what I just wrote was breaking some obscure election law somewhere. How exciting.

Anyway, I'm Ian Dunt and I'll be manning the live blog throughout the night, bringing you the latest news, analysis, comment, sleep-deprived ramblings and occasional expressions of catatonic despair. We'll stay with you throughout the evening and into the morning. And probably – depending on hung parliaments, resignations, whatever – into Friday afternoon. It all depends on how long things are happening. 

See you later on.

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