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UK election: Boris Johnson's Conservatives win majority

December 12, 2019

Results show a sweeping victory for Boris Johnson's Conservatives and a historic defeat for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party as concerns over Brexit appeared to dominate.

Großbritannien Boris Johnson nach der Wahl 2019
Image: Reuters/T. Mukoya

  • Boris Johnson's Conservatives won a decisive majority in Parliament, paving the way for the UK to leave the European Union next month.
  • Johnson called the results a "powerful mandate" for the Conservatives.
  • Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he will not lead the party in a future election campaign but will stay on to guide the party through a "period of reflection."
  • Brexit dominated the campaign, but other main issues included concerns over Britain's beloved National Health Service, climate change and the economy.

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)

09:45 We're going to wrap up our live coverage of the election now. Head over to our main report for plenty of further related content.

09:30 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered her congratulations and pledged a "close partnership" with Boris Johnson.

09:06 "With Johnson's victory, Brexit has become inevitable," German conservative Norbert Röttgen says.

08:41 Vice President of the EU Parliament, Katarina Barley, says she is "very worried that the United Kingdom could be headed for a breakup" as pro-independence voices grow stronger in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Barley, who holds both German and British citizenship, also told German public broadcaster rbb that there was "damn little time" to negotiate a trade relationship with London.

08:33 A record 220 women have snatched seats in the 650-seat assembly, according to the British media.

08:24 India's Narendra Modi congratulated Johnson on his "return with a thumping majority."

08:16 Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung says the UK's official exit from the EU in January would only score a "short break" for the UK. London would still need to negotiate a long-term relationship with the bloc by the end of 2020.

"If there is not such accord, there is once again the threat of a 'no deal' scenario," says the Swiss paper. "In other words, we would be back to square one.

08:03 Brussels hopes to have clarity on the Brexit divorce deal from the UK.

"We expect, as soon as possible, a vote by the British Parliament," said senior EU official Charles Michel, adding that the bloc was "ready" to talk trade with the London government.

07:47 The EU wants "balanced" trade relations with the UK after Johnson's victory.

"We now have to rebuild relations with Great Britain which is an important partner," EU's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told French RTL radio.

Boris Johnson enters Tory HQ in London
Boris Johnson, with his back to the camera, raises hands in triumph as he enters Tory HQImage: Reuters/H. McKay

07:32 Boris Johnson ends his morning victory speech with a quip: "Let's get Brexit done, but first of all, my friends, let's get breakfast done too," he says.

07:30 "In delivering change, we must change too," Johnson says of his party, adding that the Tories must represent the entirety of the UK.

07:25 UK politicians have "squandered" the time since the 2016 referendum, Johnson says. "I will put an end to all that nonsense and we will get Brexit done on time by January 31, no ifs, no buts."

07:22 "We pulled it off, didn't we?" says Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing reporters in London. He also said that the election outcome is a signal to people wanting a second referendum.

"Time to put a sock in the megaphone and give everybody some peace," he said.

07:12 Conservative Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the British voters have rejected Jeremy Corbyn's policy of "division, extremism and anti-Semitism."

Gove said that Jewish people in the UK "had to live in fear" of Corbyn's victory during the campaign.

06:57 Irish nationalists have claimed more seats in Northern Ireland than the pro-British unionists for the first time ever.

06:43 Nigel Dodds, the parliamentary leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) lost his seat in North Ireland's Belfast.

06:35 Liberal Democrats say they would elect a new leader in the weeks ahead after Jo Swinson narrowly lost her parliamentary seat.

06:29 Corbyn will have no choice but to step down, says DW reporter and analyst Rob Mudge.

06:26 US President Donald Trump says that UK and the US will "now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal."

"Celebrate Boris," he wrote on Twitter.

06:14 Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz congratulates Boris Johnson on his "impressive electoral victory," expresses hope that Brexit deal would soon be ratified.

05:50 The UK is expected to definitely leave the EU by the end of January, as the Tory's majority allows Boris Johnson to ratify his Brexit divorce deal in the House of Commons.

05:38 France's European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin welcomed the indications of a "clear majority, something that has been missing in the United Kingdom for several years."

05:33 The Conservative Party is set for their biggest landslide victory since the Margaret Thatcher era, with the Labour headed for their worst result since 1935.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears alongside two joke candidates
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson waits for results at his constituency alongside two joke candidates, Bobby Smith in the Elmo costume on his left and Count Binface on his right.Image: picture-alliance/AP/K. Wigglesworth

05:29 Labour veteran Dennis Skinner, nicknamed the "Beast of Bolsover", lost his seat in the town of Bolsover to the Tories after holding it for over four decades. The 87-year-old Skinner was Labour's longest continuously serving lawmaker.

05:05 -Boris Johnson's Conservatives have secured a landslide victory in the UK's general election, securing a majority in Parliament. With results still coming in, the Conservatives snagged 333 seats — over the 326 needed for an absolute majority. Labour took 199 seats, while the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 45 and the Liberal Democrats took 8.

04:40 - US President Donald Trump has chimed in on the UK general election, tweeting that the results are "looking like a big win" for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

04:20 - The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says that Scotland must be allowed to hold a second referendum on independence following her party's strong results.

"There is a mandate now to offer the people of Scotland the choice over our own future," Sturgeon told Sky News.

03:50 - The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, lost her seat to the Scottish National Party in a closely contested race. SNP candidate Amy Callaghan beat out the pro-EU Swinson by a mere 149 votes.

03:40 - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrated the results, saying that his Conservatives have been given "a powerful mandate."

"At this stage, it does look as though this one nation Conservative government has been given a powerful mandate to get Brexit done," Johnson said as he was re-elected in his constituency.

03:20 - Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that he "will not lead the party in any future election campaign," but ruled out stepping down immediately. He called for a period of reflection in his party and said that he would remain at the helm "to ensure that discussion takes place."

"This is obviously a disappointing result for the Labour Party," Corbyn said. He criticized media coverage of his party during the campaign and placed blame for the drop in support with divisions over Brexit.

"Brexit has so polarized and divided debate in this country ... I recognize that this has contributed to the results that we have received across this country," he said.

03:00 - Five hours after polls closed, here's where the results currently stand according to British media:

Conservatives 91 - 102
Labour 76 - 81
SNP 15 - 16
Liberal Democrats 3
Other parties 6 - 10

Although there's still a long way to go, the results so far show a heavy hit in support for Labour. The party has already lost at least 20 of its seats to Conservative and SNP candidates.

02:15 - DW's UK politics analyst Rob Mudge says that Jeremy Corbyn and his ambiguous Brexit stance and inability to appeal to voters even within Labour strongholds likely contributed to the projected loss in support for the party.

"I think that he proved to be more unpopular than Boris Johnson. It probably didn't help that he's been sitting on the fence on Brexit for so long," Mudge says.

01:15 - Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire, with Labour party members debating whether Brexit or his leadership are to blame for the party's projected sweeping defeat.

Labour candidate Gareth Snell told the BBC that the exit poll "is a catastrophe" for his party and that he expected to lose the race in his constituency. When asked whether Labour leaders should resign, he replied: "Yes."

Seb Dance, a Labour candidate in London, tweeted that although voters he spoke with were angry about Brexit and Boris Johnson, "they feared one thing more: Jeremy Corbyn."

Margaret Hodge, a longtime Labour lawmaker in Barking, tweeted, "This is the utter failure of Corbyn and Corbynism."

00:45 - As results slowly continue to roll in, DW's senior European correspondent Barbara Wesel said voters and politicians in London are in shock over the projections.

"Everybody is stunned because pollsters said over the past couple days that the two sides were narrowing — and now there's something that looks like a landslide," Wesel reports from London. She adds that Boris Johnson's message of "get Brexit done" appeared to hit home with voters.

00:04 - Some within the Labour Party are blaming public dissatisfaction with the Brexit process on their projected election defeat.

"It looks as if Brexit dominated. A lot of this was Brexit fatigue. People just wanted it over and done with," Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell told Sky News.

22:35 - In a sign of what could be to come, the Conservatives flipped a seat in the Labour stronghold of Blyth Valley, a forming mining area in northern England. The seat had been held by Labour since 1950.

23:30 - The first results of the night have started trickling in, with Labour Party candidates holding onto their seats in the constituencies of Newcastle Central and Houghton and Sunderland South.

Ballots are tallied at a counting centre for Britain's general election
Conservatives are hoping to flip traditionally Labour strongholdsImage: Reuters/L. Smith

23:10 - France welcomed the British election projections, saying that a majority would give much-needed clarity in the Brexit process.

"It's not for me to be relieved — or worried — but, along with the president, we've been saying for several months: 'We need clarity,'" French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said, referring to President Emmanuel Macron.

22:45 - Neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn has appeared for a public statement on the exit poll projections, but Johnson told party members in an email that he hopes party members will "enjoy a celebration tonight."

22:35 - Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, celebrated the poll projections that saw her party winning in 55 of Scotland's 59 constituencies. "What it indicates UK-wide though is grim," she added on Twitter.

22:25 - The opposition Labour Party said, "It's too early to call the result" following an exit poll forecasting the Conservatives winning a large majority.

22:15 - The pound jumped following the first exit polls showing Johnson's Conservatives on track to score a major win, rising up around 2% against the dollar and was up 1.6% percent against the euro.

22:05 - Exit polls released shortly after polling closed suggest that Boris Johnson's Conservatives are likely to win a majority of seats in Parliament.

The poll put the Conservatives taking 368 seats, while Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party was set to get 191 seats. The Scottish National Party was projected to take 55, the Liberal Democrats were set to take 13, and the Brexit Party none.

21:30 - Some of the last-minute messages from party leaders here. No surprise that Boris Johnson focused on the parliamentary standoff around Brexit, while Jeremy Corbyn made saving the NHS his clarion call. 

The Scottish National Party's Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, encouraged voters in Scotland to vote for greater self-determination.

The Liberal Democrats' Jo Swinson hammered home her party's message of the need to remain in the European Union.

21:00 - The right-leaning Daily Telegraph newspaper is asking after the whereabouts of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who apparently hasn't been seen all day. 

20:50 - Some say the main threat to Boris Johnson isn't Jeremy Corbyn at all, but his 25-year-old local challenger for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency - Ali Milani.

Labour's Milani, who arrived in Britain from Iran at the age of five speaking no English, is pitching himself as the true "local candidate." Johnson's majority in the seat is just 5,034 — the smallest of any sitting prime minister since 1924.

Read more: Where is Boris Johnson?

With activists targeting the seat in an effort to dethrone Johnson, the prime minister — who hasn't made a priority of constituency campaigning — made a late visit to rally supporters there. 

20:40 - Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar expects it will be a late-night for EU leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels. While he did not endorse Johnson's vow to "Get Brexit Done", he stressed the need for a decisive verdict.

"I imagine most prime ministers and presidents will be staying up all night to watch the results, so we'll all be a bit bleary-eyed in the morning," Varadkar said.

"Obviously, it's entirely a decision for the people of the UK to elect whatever government they want and I just hope the result is decisive so that we know where we're going over the next few months."

19:45 - Former Conservative cabinet David Gauke is claiming "a broad coalition of support" in his effort to win the South West Hertfordshire constituency at the expense of Boris Johnson's party.

Having gained an endorsement from Conservative Prime Minister John Major, Gauke also won the seal of approval from the fan-run Twitter account of anarchic rap-metal group Rage Against the Machine.

The band-endorsed account produced a "Vote Against the Machine" list for tactical voters opposed to Johnson.

Among its recommended candidates were Gauke and former fellow Tory cabinet member Dominic Grieve. Both are running as independents after they voted against Boris Johnson's government and subsequently sidelined.

18:45 - Today's vote has been billed as the "Brexit election," with Boris Johnson seeking a majority that would get his withdrawal agreement across the line and allow Britain to leave the EU on January 31. But any other outcome would throw this up into the air. We looked at the possibilities, and what they would mean for Brexit, back when the election was called.

17:55 - Conservative MP and former minister Greg Hands issued a video appeal on Twitter directed at German-speaking voters with dual citizenship in the UK to vote Tory. Hands worked at a swimming pool in Berlin for a year before embarking on university, and his German still — by-and-large — appeared to pass muster.

From the US, Democratic House representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a call in favor of the Labour Party, featuring a post from Jeremy Corbyn.

16:50 - Among the hashtags trending on UK election day is #dogsatpollingstations. It's been a feature of previous UK elections, but this time around – in the run-up to Christmas – many of the pooches on show are dressed in festive attire. 

16:30 - Here's a reminder of the party leaders who will be waiting with bated breath ahead of the first exit polls later today. All the key figures have now cast their votes.

16:15 - Worth noting that the hashtag #YouthQuake is trending on UK Twitter, amid reports that young people are turning out to vote in large numbers. It's widely perceived that this would favor the Labour Party, but unclear if the phenomenon is a widespread one.

A "Youthquake" of younger voters casting their ballots for Labour MPs in 2017 was said to have contributed to a better-than-expected showing for Jeremy Corbyn's party — depriving then-Prime Minister Theresa May of her much-needed majority.

16:00 - It's arguably the most unpredictable election in years, with many voters prepared to abandon long-held party loyalties after three years of Brexit wrangling. Aside from the drama of Britain's exit from the EU, both the Labour and Conservative parties are perceived to have moved away from the center ground of politics — leaving some to feel politically homeless. 

Despite this, photos showing long lines of people waiting to vote at polling stations suggested that turnout would be high. 

Read more:  UK election: What are the big issues?

14:35 - EU leaders have been gathering in Brussels for talks on, among other things, Brexit. All EU leaders, except Boris Johnson, are at the meeting.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel had some advice for whoever becomes prime minister of the UK.

"Get the majority in the House of Commons and be able to fulfill the agreement we decided on both sides," Bettel told reporters. "To have a parliament in London that agrees on the future relationship and all these things very quickly."

12:08 - Just showing up to the party? Want to know more about what's happening in the UK — or why this vote matters? Check out our rundown of the issues

Read moreBrexit looming, UK decides between Tories and Labour 

11:38 - Renowned British actor Hugh Grant called on would-be voters to cast their ballots tactically in order to unseat Conservative leader Boris Johnson.

"There is hope," he said in a tweet. "I don't know any young people but if you do please drag them by the hair to polling booths."

11:14 - Fresh from being named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year," renowned environmental activist Greta Thunberg has waded into British politics.

"Every election is a climate election," Thunberg said in a tweet. "Vote for your children. Vote for the planet. Vote for future generations. Vote for humanity."

10:53 - An Ipsos MORI opinion poll for the Evening Standard newspaper puts the Conservative Party ahead of the Labour Party with an 11-percentage-point lead.

10:16 - Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn cast his vote in Islington, north London. Other political leaders, including the Liberal Democrats' Jo Swinson and the Scottish National Party's Nicola Sturgeon, have also voted.

Jeremy Corbyn gestures at a camera near a polling station sign
Image: picture-alliance/empics/J. Giddens

09:58 - According to the Queen's proclamation in November, the new parliament must convene on Tuesday, December 17, just five days after today's election. 

09:14 - How can a party gain a majority of seats in parliament without a majority of the vote? Welcome to the UK. They have a first-past-the-post system, which means the candidate that wins the most votes in a constituency wins that seat in the House of Commons. 

That's how the Liberal Democrats were able to gain more votes in the 2010 general election compared to 2005 and still lose five seats. A party needs 326 seats to have a majority.

08:41 - Conservative leader Boris Johnson cast his vote in London. He appeared at the polling station with his dog Dilyn — and even gave the canine a kiss after voting.

Boris Johnson with his dog Dilyn
Image: picture-alliance/empics/J. Brady

08:38 - Stock markets are up across Europe. London's benchmark FTSE 100 of major blue-chip companies was up 0.39%, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 index rose 0.15%. 

08:29 - It's cold and wet. But despite the weather, long queues have been reported at polling stations across the country.

"What's a little drizzle of rain anyway?" tweeted Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson.

07:59 - Political leaders took to Twitter to urge eligible voters to go to polling stations and cast a vote for their party. Conservative leader Boris Johnson said it is "our chance to get Brexit done," while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that a vote for him is a "vote to end austerity."

07:00 - Good morning! As they did in 2015 and 2017, voters in the UK are heading to the polls for a crucial general election.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservatives campaigned with a promise to "get Brexit done," while his rival Jeremy Corbyn and the opposition Labour Party have campaigned for a second referendum on whether to leave the European Union.

dj,rc,ls,rs/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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