Embarrassing UK election loss is worst in 84 years
A shock exit poll has pointed to the most decisive victory for Boris Johnson's Conservative Party since Margaret Thatcher was in power.
The poll predicted the party would win 368 seats, enough for a comfortable majority in the 650-seat parliament.
Australian election analyst Antony Green tweeted that if the prediction is accurate, it will be the best result for the Conservatives since former PM Margaret Thatcher's win of 376 in 1987.
The forecast has reportedly rocked the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, and could be its worst result since the 1935 election.
The Sunday Times reporter Gabriel Pogrund tweeted that the news was greeted with at least 10 minutes of silence, according to a staffer at Labour headquarters.
"I can just hear weeping and coughing around me," the staffer reportedly told Pogrund.
The landslide result would likely make Mr Corbyn's position untenable and follows the Labour loss in the 2017 election, also under his leadership.
A full ten minutes after exit poll, staffer at Labour HQ says it remains deadly silent on the 8th floor elections hub— Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) December 12, 2019
"No one has said a word. I can just hear weeping and coughing around me"
There has already been a backlash on Twitter, with Labour figures placing the blame firmly on Mr Corbyn.
Deliberately misreading the exit poll from McDonnell. If this bears out, this is the utter failure of Corbyn & Corbynism. There is no other way of looking at it.— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) December 12, 2019
We’re going to hear the Corbynistas blame it on Brexit and the Labour Uber Remainers blaming Corbyn. Both are to blame for what looks like a terrible night for Labour. Both have taken for granted Labour’s heartlands. Sorry we couldn’t offer you a Labour Party you could trust.— Caroline Flint (@CarolineFlintMP) December 12, 2019
Everyone outside the cult knew on 12 September 2015 this was where this would end up. We were heading that way in 2017 until a freakish bandwagon bailed Labour out. Too many people deluded themselves that it was something more than a backlash against a complacent Tory campaign.— Greg Cook (@GregCook10) December 12, 2019
Labour Party shadow finance minister John McDonnell told the BBC's Andrew Neil that if the results were anywhere close to the numbers predicted, it would be "extremely disappointing".
"I thought it would be closer, I think most people thought the polls were narrowing."
Asked whether it was time for him and Mr Corbyn to stand down, he said: "We'll see the results in the morning and then decisions will be made, I'm sure then.
"We'll make the appropriate decision."
Mr McDonnell said he thought the issue of Brexit had dominated the election, despite the hope from Labour that other issues could cut through.
The exit poll was produced by three broadcasters - the BBC, ITV and Sky - who teamed up to jointly produce similar surveys in the last three elections, held in 2010, 2015 and 2017.
It showed the Conservatives would win a majority of 86 seats in Britain's election. This would give him the numbers he needs to deliver Brexit on January 31.
Labour were forecast to win 191 seats, the Scottish National Party 55 seats and the Liberal Democrats 13.
Official results will be declared over the next seven hours.
In the last five national elections, only one exit poll has got the outcome wrong - in 2015 when the poll predicted a hung parliament when in fact the Conservatives won a majority, taking 14 more seats than forecast.
If Mr Johnson's bet on a snap election has paid off, he will move swiftly to ratify the Brexit deal he struck with the European Union so that the United Kingdom can leave on January 31 - 10 months later than initially planned.
The UK Prime Minister called the first Christmas election since 1923 to break what he said was the paralysis of Britain's political system after more than three years of crisis over how, when or even if the country should leave the European Union.
The face of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum, 55-year-old Johnson fought the election under the slogan of "Get Brexit Done", promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and police.
Mr Johnson's strategy was to breach Labour's so called "Red Wall" of seats across the Brexit-supporting areas of the Midlands and northern England where he cast his political opponents as the out-of-touch enemies of Brexit.
While a majority will allow Mr Johnson to lead the United Kingdom out of the club it first joined in 1973, Brexit is far from over. He faces the daunting task of negotiating a trade agreement with the EU in just 11 months.
After January 31, Britain will enter a transition period during which it will negotiate a new relationship with the EU 27.
This can run until the end of December 2022 under the current rules, but the Conservatives made an election promise not to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020.