Pound sinks on prospect of hung parliament in United Kingdom, other currencies calm

Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was the first major politician to fall, losing his Sheffield Hallam seat to Labour rival Jared O'Mara.

Labour was trailing far behind the Tories but Jeremy Corbyn's party had been boosted by recent polls. But the attacks forced her to defend the government's record on terrorism, and she's promised to crack down on extremism if she wins.

"The country needs a period of stability, and whatever the results are the Conservative Party will ensure we fulfill our duty in ensuring that stability", she said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May believes she can form a government and will go to Buckingham Palace at 1130 GMT (2130 AEST) to ask Queen Elizabeth for permission to do so, the BBC reports.

Under that kind of agreement, the smaller parties would not be part of the government, but they would guarantee the prime minister their support on matters such as finances or confidence votes.

Mr Corbyn said it was time for a government that is "truly representative of all of the people of this country".

That remains an outside possibility, but Brits will soon find out the outcome - polls shut at 10pm local time (5pm ET), and an exit poll will give a preliminary idea of how the country has voted.

If the result is tight, or if the popular vote gives a different victor to the tally of seats, as much will depend on fixing a narrative in the early stages as straightforward math.

By contrast, Labour's Corbyn, a veteran socialist who had initially been written off as a no-hoper, was widely deemed to have run a strong, policy-rich campaign that enthused many followers.

The single largest party, which is expected to be the Conservatives, could decide to govern as a minority administration.

Ms May signalled that her party will try to form a government after being re-elected to her seat amid speculation that she will now have to resign.

A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with about 45.8 million people entitled to vote. And now, while remaining cautious, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party is apparently feeling confident too. Others, though, think that there is no alternative but to soldier on with her; they argue that another election would be even worse for the party.

If this poll bears out, then this will be reduced to 314 seats, 12 short of of an overall majority.

The Liberal Democrats appear to have gained 14 seats from eight while the Scottish Nationals are down to 34 from 56, with no seats for Ukip.

Labour took Canterbury, a seat which had been held by Conservatives since 1918, and claimed Tory scalps in a string of seats including Bristol North West, Stroud, Warwick & Leamington, Stockton South and Vale of Clwyd.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said the election "has been a disaster for Theresa May".

"I think that Brexit actually is going to have to be negotiated in a very different way", she told ITV. "I'm a natural pessimist, and we'll see whether I'm an optimist in the morning, " he said.

UK Independence Party leader Paul Nuttall tweeted: "If the exit poll is true then Theresa May has put Brexit in jeopardy". The former minister told the BBC that the Prime Minister has to "consider her decision" following "a pretty terrible campaign".

Meanwhile, Kathleen Brooks at City Index, said: "At this stage, the uncertainty is likely to keep pressure on the pound tonight, which has fallen to the base of its recent range".

However, some analysts warned that the political turmoil triggered by the General Election will have serious financial repercussions, particularly as it could delay the Brexit negotiations, which are due to begin in just 11 days.

Mrs May was against Brexit before last year's referendum - but now says there can be no turning back and that "Brexit means Brexit".

"The Prime Minister and her team appear to be trying to get out on the front foot with this - she wants to hold her ground".

If the final result shows no clear victor, that could put further pressure on the pound, says Samuel Tombs, analyst at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

  • Zachary Reyes