Paul Goodman reporting

During the campaign, we recommended that May announce that all her top team be kept on – the Chancellor, the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Brexit Secretary and the Trade Secretary.  Our argument was that this will kill distracting speculation about a reshuffle.

The Prime Minister has now been forced to do exactly this – with the exception of confirming Liam Fox’s appointment, and the additional measure of re-appointing Michael Fallon at Defence – from weakness rather than strength.  She has no real alternative. Her senior Cabinet members can now boss her, rather than vice-versa.

In our look-ahead to the reshuffle a few days ago, we anticipated that all these would be reappointed, with the possible exception of Philip Hammond.  May now dare not sack him, assuming that she wanted to.


Henry Hill reporting

In a post this morning, I pointed out that whilst the Brexiteers may be rallying around the Prime Minister now, whilst the party left are taking their shots, their loyalty was likely borne more of an immediate need to fend off the soft Brexiteers than any long-standing attachment to Theresa May personally.

The same seems to be true of the DUP, who as I described below are quite close to the Brexiteer wing of the Conservatives. Kay Burley is reporting that the Unionists are emphasising that they have only agreed to enter talks with the Prime Minister, and haven’t agreed to any actual arrangement yet.

That makes May’s speech in Downing Street today looking even bolder than it did already – especially as other reporters are saying that the DUP expect May to be gone by summer. For all the talk of a full government, this looks very much like the Brexiteers propping the Prime Minister up until a more convenient time for a leadership change.


Henry Hill reporting

One result of the election is that the Democratic Unionists are getting a lot of attention. George Osborne’s Evening Standard is stirring the pot as one might expect, talking about how London subsidises Ulster and furnishing the cartoon that tops this blog entry.

Even the Liberal Democrats, for whom this sort of cross-party cooperation is supposed to be the highest form of political art, aren’t so keen all of a sudden.

It’s good for our democracy that this party – at one point Westminster’s fourth-largest – is getting more attention. The fact that the eight-strong Democratic Unionists were absent from the TV debates when Plaid, with its then-three seats, was included illustrated our democracy’s inadequate interest in Northern Ireland.

For her part, Arlene Foster has said that whilst the DUP will always strive for “the best deal for Northern Ireland” it also wants what’s best for the whole UK, and that she and Theresa May will meet to discuss how to bring “stability to our nation”.

Of course, lots of mainland writers trying to become experts on Ulster politics is going to produce a lot of skewed takes, some of which will go no further than identifying the party’s roots in that province’s very religious politics.

But the subject that is sparking particular interest is the DUP’s stance on Brexit. Some commentators, such as Polly Toynbee, believe that the party’s emphasis on a ‘frictionless’ border with the Republic and maintaining the Good Friday Agreement mean they’ll be pushing for soft Brexit. But this seems unlikely.

Remember, the DUP have been nurturing better relationships with the Conservatives since the EU referendum, most of which they forged during their time in the Leave campaign. Foster’s party defied a lot of devolutionary conventional wisdom to declare for Brexit, and having their fate tied to the outcome of a reserved policy seems to have made them more mainland-minded.

On top of these close links with the Brexiteer wing of the Conservatives, we should also remember that the DUP manifesto calls for an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and, crucially, no ‘special status’ for the province which might see it deemed to still have a foot in the EU.

It may be that the DUP’s influence in the Government amounts to no more than a lot of new roads in Northern Ireland. But if they choose to embrace a fuller role in national politics, there’s little reason to think it would be to soft Brexit’s advantage.


Henry Hill reporting

In our last update Mark Wallace pointed out that the total lack of contrition in Theresa May’s statement “looked and sounded like a serious unforced error”. He’s not the only one.

Ed Balls thinks that this latest misjudgement – following on from a campaign many believe was lost largely as a result of similar mistakes – may be what finally snaps the patience of Conservative MPs. Torsten Bell, of the Resolution Foundation, also puts it pithily: she tried to explain why it was perfectly worthwhile to trade 12 Tory MP for ten Democratic Unionists.

May ought to be very wary of that sort of criticism because it so closely parallels the manifesto fiasco: a bad but potentially salvageable situation turned into a major crisis by a bull-headed refusal to acknowledge that there was a problem. To u-turn on a manifesto commitment mid-campaign may have been unprecedented, but to then pretend you hadn’t was absurd.

Sunder Katwala of British Future has also highlighted that this behaviour invites seriously unflattering comparisons with both David Cameron in 2010 and Tony Blair in 2005, both of whom took the humble route. On the right, the Spectator’sJames Forsyth concurs that this would have been the better course.

The Prime Minister spoke today of her plan for the next five years. With a working majority (with the DUP) of two that’s an ambitious time frame even assuming she manages to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, which will otherwise force an election in 2021.

But in truth there is a very real chance that we will be measuring the rest of the May premiership in months or even weeks – and perhaps a few less even of those than there might have been this morning.


Mark Wallace reporting

The United Kingdom has a new government – the Prime Minister just delivered a short speech in Downing Street to announce that she had secured the Queen’s approval. You can read the full text in a standalone article here, but here are the first key points to note:

  • It doesn’t sound like a formal coalition. May said “we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party” – the idea of continuing a prior relationship seems rather more like a confidence and supply arrangement.
  • She claimed the new government would run for “the next five years”. She did, of course, say that of the previous government. But it’s still notable she’s talking of it in that timescale – not of an agreement intended to fulfil Brexit, for example, or to tide over a shorter period.
  • There was no mention of the price. The DUP said this morning they would “relish” going into talks with the Conservatives as the effective kingmakers, and they have a reputation for doggedly seeking financial benefit – among other things – for their base. It seems unlikely that there won’t be a cost, however it might be dressed up, to this deal in return for their support. If there is a bill, May didn’t say what it was.
  • Almost all of what she did mention was what you’d expect her to pledge if she’d won outright. We heard about delivering Brexit. We heard about fulfilling her promise to act against terrorism and extremism. We heard that she would “put fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do…[and] build a country in which no one and no community is left behind”. Most of that could have been copied and pasted from a victory speech she might have rehearsed on Wednesday.
  • Most notably of all, we didn’t hear any contrition. There was a justification of the Conservative and Unionist (NB the full name) forming a government, as it had “secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the General Election”. But, to the surprise of many watching, there wasn’t any note of recognition that last night went badly, that she had lost seats and her majority, or even that she had underperformed against expectations. Frankly, that sounded dangerously tone-deaf. Given the swirling criticisms (deserved or not) about inflexibility, of being unwilling to listen, and of taking voters for granted – not to mention the crashingly obvious fact of the result itself – passing up the opportunity to demonstrate some changes in response to, or even to acknowledge, those issues looked and sounded like a serious unforced error.


Mark Wallace reporting

After a visit lasting a little over 20 minutes, Theresa May has just left Buckingham Palace. She is now on her way to Downing Street, where she is expected to announce the Queen’s reponse to her request for approval to form a new government with the support of the DUP.


Mark Wallace reporting

Further to my earlier update about the three possible forms of government that the Prime Minister might present to the Queen at lunchtime, The Guardian has confirmed that a deal has indeed been agreed with the Northern Irish party. Notably, while their record of having “worked well with May” is cited by DUP sources as the basis for the agreement, they also point out the degree to which Jeremy Corbyn’s past associations with the IRA are a motivating factor. One source told the paper: “For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, we will ensure there’s a Tory PM.” Quite what the terms – and the price – of their support will be, we will learn later today.

Meanwhile, in North Britain, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she will be making a statement at noon at Bute House, and Tim Farron is set to make a statement at around the same time.


Mark Wallace reporting

Paul Nuttall has become the first party leader to resign as a result of the election. After a very difficult few months in charge, and an awful showing last night, he boldly declared that UKIP had been vindicated, was ahead of its time and was now more relevant than it had ever been. He was UKIP’s fifth leader in the last 11 months – though, admittedly, three of those leaders were Nigel Farage. A UKIP spokesman tells me that the chance of another return by Farage is “very slim” – but then he has changed his mind on this question before. The next questions for the party are:

  • How will it respond to possible changes in the proposed Brexit approach, under a new Government?
  • Will Arron Banks make another attempt at what would effectively be a hostile takeover of UKIP?
  • Will the Party – depressed at its results, shorn of many councillors and reportedly receiving next to no donations – hang together long enough to answer the above questions?


Mark Wallace reporting

The earlier plan for a statement by the Prime Minister at 10am has changed – now she will deliver a statement in Downing Street after going to Buckingham Palace at 12.30pm, during which meeting she will request permission to form a new Government. That presumably means one of three things: she’s struck a coalition deal with the DUP; she’s struck a confidence and supply deal with the DUP; or talks with the DUP have failed and she’s pitching for a minority government. There’s a fair bit of variation within those possibilities, obviously, but they’re all a reminder of the election’s sole cold comfort – the Conservatives are currently the only Party in a position to (maybe, hopefully) form a government. We’ll bring you more as we get it.


Mark Wallace reporting

Our liveblog is now live once more – I’d say good morning but, well, it isn’t. On that happy note, here’s a quick round-up of what’s happened since 7am:

  • The last few seats have been trickling in. Zac Goldsmith regained Richmond Park on a very narrow majority: 45 votes. Labour held Dudley North by an even narrower majority: 22 votes. The Conservatives’ Derek Thomas hung onto St Ives by a slightly larger, but still uncomfortable, 312 votes. Meanwhile, also in Cornwall, Steve Double increased his majority in St Austell and Newquay to a sizeable 11,142 votes.
  • Sky News reports that the DUP are now in talks with the Conservatives about an arrangement to govern. Expect them to have quite the wishlist.
  • The Prime Minister will, we are told, make a statement at 10am. If she is forced out or chooses to resign, she will become a pub quiz question – Paul Waugh points out that if her premiership is cut short now, she will have served the shortest term in Number 10 since Andrew Bonar Law.
  • Meanwhile, Labour is racing to try to embed its narrative of what happened last night. Jeremy Corbyn has said “It’s pretty clear we won the election.” While he gained votes and seats, it’s worth remembering that he still lost on both measures. Whether that matters to his fans is, of course, a different thing – his former critics are already rushing to forget their past remarks about his suitability to lead their party.


Mark Wallace reporting

Whether you’re just joining us after a night’s sleep, or whether you’ve followed this live blog through the night, it’s time to take stock of the situation.

It’s now certain that the outcome of the General Election is a hung Parliament. The Conservatives have suffered net losses of 12 seats so far – though this total masks a larger number of MPs unseated, given that we have gained 20 seats (mostly in Scotland). Labour have a net gain of 29 seats, the SNP have lost 21 and the Lib Dems are up by four.

Crucially, Northern Ireland’s DUP are up to ten seats. That puts them in a position to strike a deal to support a Conservative government.

We’re awaiting news of what will happen to the Prime Minister, who has so far only said the “country needs a period of stability”. The twin questions of what will happen to her, and what will happen to the Government, are as yet unanswered.

We’re now pausing this live blog, given that almost all counts have been concluded, and liveblogging will resume soon when the news develops.


Mark Wallace reporting

There are a number of moving parts which have generated these results, in varying interactions in different parts of the country. Among them is a striking difference between expectations on how the UKIP vote would split and how it actually did.

Paul Nuttall’s party has, as expected, had an absolute shocker of a night. They don’t seem to have scored a single second place so far, and their vote share at the time of writing is down by an average of over ten percentage points.

That mirrors what happened to them in the local elections. What wasn’t repeated was where those votes went to, after departing the purple column.

In the local elections, of those ex-UKIP supporters who voted we saw a majority of them go to the Conservatives. In some places, that seems to have happened – Mansfield, for instance, which the Conservatives gained, apparently as a result. But in plenty of others it’s evident that Labour picked up either an equal split, making it easier for them to stay ahead of Conservative advances, or perhaps even a majority of former UKIPers.

We’ll know more about exactly how that vote divided, and why, when the details are studied and those voters quizzed over the coming days and weeks. On first impressions, it seems that some who were attracted by the sight of Nigel Farage kicking the establishment were also attracted by the sight of Jeremy Corbyn offering to do the same thing, regardless of their ideological differences. There was evident potential to win over their support for Brexit, but much of that opportunity has been squandered – the national campaign failed to reach and then convince them.

More widely, this return to two party politics is proving brutal. Several of those Conservative MPs who have lost their seats increased their total votes and share of the vote, only to lose all the same as Labour overtook them, folding in minor party voters and new voters into drastically expanded totals.


Mark Wallace reporting

A series of Conservative seats have now fallen – Bury North, Vale of Clwyd, Bury North – with other losses rumoured to be on the way. There are some gains in Scotland, beyond even optimistic expectations, and we’ve just picked up Southport from the Lib Dems, but it’s undeniably a far worse night than the Conservative Party planned and hoped for.

As Paul has written here, there’s anger among MPs and others targeted at the Prime Minister and her advisers, particularly over the manifesto mis-step.

There’s also anger growing in the Conservative grassroots, not just targeted at the leadership over policy but also focusing on CCHQ over failings in the campaign machine and strategy. As one senior activist told me, “CCHQ need shooting…[they] didn’t f*cking listen”. Others have reported to me conflicts with headquarters when the centre refused to accept local analysis of what were and weren’t battleground seats, while I’ve also heard from activists who volunteered in target seats in 2015 but struggled to even get an answer as to where they were needed this time. The backdrop for this is, of course, the clumsyand tone-deaf way in which candidate selections were handled early on in the campaign.

That feeling is only going to intensify when Tory members open their email inboxes in the morning – it seems that for some reason Get Out The Vote mass emails sent out by CCHQ during voting yesterday have only been delivered to many people after polls closed. That’ll be a kick in the teeth for people shocked at the result, and it’s another symptom of a misfiring machine – which at best didn’t counteract problems with the air war, and at worse might have exacerbated them.


Henry Hill reporting

Theresa May set out to repudiate George Osborne’s vision for the Conservative Party – and as she reaps the whirlwind he isn’t holding back. He’s pinned the manifesto on the Prime Minister, Nick Timothy, and Fiona Hill, and blamed the manifesto for the defeat.

He’s also calling her leadership into question. Many more will likely be doing so at the end of the night.



Henry Hill reporting

Liam Fox has already said that it’s “too early in the night” to tell whether or not Theresa May will need to resign. In other news we’re getting some results in from the Midlands now. Did he mean that the results may yet be better than expected?

Word is that Jane Ellison is out in Battersea, although it isn’t official yet. The YouGov model holding up.

The Conservatives have held Nuneaton and Kettering, although Labour put on more votes than the Tories in both cases. There was some chatter about a potential loss in Kettering, but it was not to be.

  • >Basildon & Billericay
  • >Broxbourne
  • >Nuneaton
  • >Kettering
  • >Workington


Henry Hill reporting

There’s currently considerable debate on Twitter about what the results say about the exit poll. Both parties are over-performing it in different seats. Unfortunately for the Tories, the results currently cleave very closely to the YouGov model… which is even worse, projecting only 302 Conservative seats. The seats so far:

  • >Swindon North
  • >Washington & Sunderland West
  • >Newcastle upon Tyne East
  • >Sunderland Central
  • >Houghton & Sunderland South
  • >Newcastle upon Tyne Central


Mark Wallace reporting

The first actual results of the night are in – Newcastle upon Tyne Central has stolen Sunderland South’s crown for fastest count, narrowly. The results themselves raise multiple questions, particularly in contrast to the exit poll’s forecast.

Turnout is up in both seats – by ten percentage points in the former and five points in the latter.

In Newcastle Central, both main parties gained in total votes and vote share – Labour up 9.9 percentage points, and the Conservatives up by 5.7 percentage points. That works out as a swing from the Conservatives to Labour of two per cent – still a swing, but notably less than the seven percentage point swing the exit poll had forecast. UKIP’s vote share fell 10.9 percentage points, to four per cent.

In Sunderland Central, another safe Labour seat, both parties also gained – Labour by 4.4 percentage points, and the Conservatives by 11.2 percentage points. Importantly, that’s a 3.5 point swing away from Labour to the Conservatives. That’s directly the opposite of what the exit poll forecast happening.

These are only two seats, of course, but we might be seeing a number of different things here. There seems to be some variation from the exit poll, though we don’t yet know how much by, There’s a rise in turnout, but perhaps differential rises in turnout related to the referendum – Newcastle voted Remain and Sunderland voted Leave. UKIP’s vote appears to have split more heavily to the Conservatives in Sunderland than expected, but less heavily so in Newcastle. There’s no sign so far of a great Lib Dem revival, though they were not prominently in the running in either seat.

One final statistic – in both constituencies, the combined Conservative and Labour vote share is drastically up – to 89.5 per cent in Newcastle Central and 89.2 per cent in Sunderland South.


Henry Hill reporting

Above we’ve listed the projected gains, but what’s remarkable is the number of seats which the BBC says are too close to call. They’re listed below. Some of the percentage chances given (available here) are odd, to say the least.

Conservative held:

  • Battersea
  • Bristol North West
  • Broxtowe
  • Calder Valley
  • Cannock Chase
  • Chingford & Woodford Green
  • Chipping Barnet
  • Colne Valley
  • Corby
  • Dudley South
  • Elmet & Rothwell
  • Harrow East
  • Hendon
  • High Peak
  • Kingston & Surbiton
  • Lincoln
  • Loughborough
  • Milton Keynes North
  • Milton Keynes South
  • Morecambe & Lunesdale
  • Morley & Outwood
  • Norwich North
  • Nuneaton
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth Moor View
  • Plymouth Sutton & Devonport
  • Pudsey
  • Reading East
  • Reading West
  • Richmond Park
  • Rossendale & Darwen
  • Shipley
  • Shrewsbury & Atcham
  • Southampton Itchen
  • Stafford
  • Stevenage
  • Stockton South
  • Stroud
  • Swindon South
  • Telford
  • Thurrock
  • Twickenham
  • Warwick & Leamington
  • Watford
  • Waveney

Labour held:

  • Barrow & Furness
  • Bridgend
  • Dewsbury
  • Halifax
  • Newcastle-Under-Lyme
  • Newport East
  • Newport West
  • Ynys Mon

Liberal Democrat held:

  • Leeds North West
  • Sheffield Hallam
  • Southport

SNP held:

  • Aberdeen South
  • Airdrie & Shotts
  • Argyll & Bute
  • Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock
  • Banff & Buchan
  • East Lothian
  • Edinburgh East
  • Edinburgh South West
  • Fife North East
  • Glasgow Central
  • Gordon
  • Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
  • Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
  • Lanark & Hamilton East
  • Ochil & Perthshire South
  • Paisley & Renfrewshire North
  • Paisley & Renfrewshire South
  • Renfrewshire East
  • Rutherglen & Hamilton West
  • Stirling


Here are the BBC poll’s projected Labour gains:

  • Bedford: 97% chance of a Labour victory
  • Bolton West 99% chance of a Labour victory
  • Brighton Kemptown 99% chance of a Labour victory
  • Bury North 99% chance of a Labour victory
  • Croydon Central 99% chance of a Labour victory
  • Derby North 99% chance of a Labour victory
  • Edinburgh North & Leith 81% chance of a Labour victory
  • Enfield Southgate 93% chance of a Labour victory
  • Finchley & Golders Green 91% chance of a Labour victory
  • Keighley 80% chance of a Labour victory
  • South Ribble 83% chance of a Labour victory
  • Warrington South 90% chance of a Labour victory
  • Weaver Vale 99% chance of a Labour victory
  • Worcester 81% chance of a Labour victory

And here are the BBC’s projected Conservative gains:

  • Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine 99% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Alyn & Deeside 97% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Angus 90% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk 99% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Clacton 99% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Clwyd South 97% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Delyn 98% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Dumfries & Galloway 99% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Moray 99% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Perth & Perthshire North 99% chance of a Conservative victory
  • Wrexham 99% chance of a Conservative victory

And here are the BBC’s projected Liberal Democrat gains:

  • Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross 81% chance of a Liberal Democrat victory
  • Dunbartonshire East 99% chance of a Liberal Democrat victory
  • Edinburgh West 99% chance of a Liberal Democrat victory
  • Ross, Skye & Lochaber 90% chance of a Liberal Democrat victory


Paul Goodman reporting

According to the BBC’s exit poll, the main parties, the pollsters, and campaigners from all sides on the ground are all wrong: Theresa May will fall short of a majority, although the Conservatives will be the largest party.

The BBC’s figures for the main parties are:

Conservatives: 314

Labour: 266

SNP: 34

Liberal Democrats: 14

CCHQ’s view? That exit polls have been wrong in the past, and the finding doesn’t match what it hears on the ground – where it claims Labour has had real trouble in the midlands and north.  Tory sources also don’t believe that the SNP will lose as many as 22 seats.

Last time round, the BBC exit poll predicted 316 Tory seats and a hung Parliament.  The Conservatives won 330 seats and a majority.

However, the poll is consistent with reports, which I tweeted about earlier this evening, that the Tory majority will be smaller than expected this morning.