Shock UK exit poll suggests Britain's May fails to win majority

GBP=D3 EURGBP=D3.May called the snap election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with the other 27 European Union countries which are due to begin in less than a fortnight, and to cement her grip on the Conservative Party after she took over as prime minister in the wake of last year's European Union referendum.Despite being ahead in the opinion polls by more than 20 points at the start of the election campaign, May's lead was slowly eroded, with Britons unimpressed with her election policies, particularly one to force elderly people to pay more for their social care.

As leader of the party that seems certain to win the most seats, Ms May will have the first opportunity to form a government.

The exit poll predicted the Conservatives would win 314 seats and the Labour Party 266, meaning no clear victor and a "hung parliament".

"It creates another layer of uncertainty ahead of the Brexit negotiations", said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA currency traders.

"People have said they have had quite enough of austerity politics", he said, repeating his campaign promises to push for better funding for health and education.

Instead, if the exit poll showing strong gains for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour is anywhere near accurate, she risks losing power in what would be an ignominious end to her 11 months at Number 10 Downing Street.

The Labour party will get 266 seats, while 14 will go to Liberal Democrats, 34 - to the Scottish National Party and 22 to other political forces.

Sterling dropped 1.6pc in minutes to $1.2752 in NY after a 10pm exit poll showed Theresa May's Conservative Party is unlikely to win an overall majority, though it will still be the UK's biggest party.

"As we look ahead and wait to see what the final results will be, I know - as I say - the country needs a period of stability and whatever the results are the Conservative Party will ensure we fulfil our duty in ensuring that stability so that we can all, as one country, go forward together".

"Generally, on average, the polls tend to point toward a fairly small Tory majority, whereas the betting is more optimistic of May landing a majority of around 70 seats", said a betting expert at Ladbrokes, one of the UK's leading bookmakers.

British voters punished Theresa May for her electoral gamble by denying her the resounding mandate she wanted to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks, casting doubt over her premiership and raising the prospect of a deadlocked parliament. Other parties are expected to account for 18 seats between them.

The pound lost more than 2 cents against the dollar within seconds of the exit poll result, falling from $1.2955 to $1.2752 late Thursday.

Labour leader Mr Corbyn, who could be Prime Minister later today, won the most votes - 40, 086 - for an Islington North candidate in history.

That fact will make it harder for her to avoid responsibility for the failure to secure a big win. The recent terrorist outrages in Manchester and London have placed security at the top of the agenda, which on the face of it should benefit the incumbent, experienced, government.

"A lot of my family aren't voting, which I'm shocked at", said 20-year-old Alicia Milner in Halifax, northern England, saying they were "exhausted by the government".

  • Leroy Wright