Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The New Statesman 2017 general election liveblog

The results as they happen - live with the NS team. 

Welcome to the New Statesman general election liveblog - please press refresh for updates.

06:20: Well. That's it. 

I usually end these by saying "I'm sorry not to have been able to bring happier news", but not this time, because there was a great deal of happy news.

Yes, Labour didn't win. But as I wrote before Jeremy Corbyn ran for the leadership in 2015, the scale of the rout that year meant that was basically never on the table. What he has done is turn the 2022 or perhaps the October 2017 election into a winnable one for Labour. He has shown that there is a far bigger appetite for unashamed left-wing politics than many people, including me, believed.

The Liberal Democrats may associate tonight with the galling spectacle of Zac Goldsmith back in Richmond Park and the painful one of Nick Clegg losing his seat. But they are stronger and larger than they were two years ago.

As for Theresa May - well, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh. The Conservatives will be able to survive in office thanks to the support of the Unionists but they won't be able to do anything. 

I thought I'd end this dreading another Conservative decade. There's now the hope that these may be the last months of Conservative government. 

In terms of the story of this election, as the results come out and the academics pore through them, we will learn a great deal. Until then, I leave with this: on the morning of 8 May 2015 it was clear that Labour had lost not one but two elections. This morning, Labour has bloodied the Conservatives and closed the gap across the country. The picture isn't as sunny as it was at the start of the liveblog.

But Theresa May has been crippled, perhaps finished, and the parties of the left can look to the next election with real hope. For now, let's just rejoice in that news, and congratulate the leaders and candidates for that achievement. 

06:19: Labour have won Crewe and Nantwich,  another minister, Edward Timpson, has lost his seat. 

06:15: The Conservatives have got 310 seats  they have enough to stagger on with the support of the Unionist parties, but they are badly weakened. 

06:11: Conservative housing minister Gavin Barwell has lost his seat of Croydon Central. Labour's Sarah Jones has been elected.

06:07: The current forecast is for the Conservatives to end up with 318 seats  they may be able to survive in office thanks to the support of the Unionist parties, but they are not going to be doing much governing. 

06:03: Caroline Lucas has romped home in Brighton Pavilion. 

06:00: Here's where we are:

Labour have had a remarkable night, gaining seats and votes on 2015, winning seats everywhere from everyone. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales, but are gaining seats at a clip in Scotland. Thanks to the massive strides made by the unionist parties in Northern Ireland, they are safe in office provided they don't fall back below 310 seats. They are currently forecast to end up with 316. They are mathematically incapable of gaining a majority at this point. 

The Liberal Democrats have had a mixed night. They have switched losses and gains in England but have made gains in Scotland. Nick Clegg has lost his seat. 

5:55: We are officially heading for hung parliament territory. The Conservatives have held Southampton Itchen but failed to win Southampton Test. The sun is up. Theresa Villiers has come within 353 votes of losing Chipping Barnet

05:52: Labour have held Hove by a HUGE margin. 18,000 votes. There is a much bigger appetite for left-wing politics in this country than I thought. I'm delighted. 

05:50: Labour's Gloria De Piero has held Ashfield by a knife-edge. 

05:46: I regret to inform you that Zac Goldsmith has won in Richmond Park. But the good news is that proves I am awake and not dreaming, because that guy would not be winning in my dream. 

05:42: The Tories have gained another seat from the SNP. They have cleared 302 seats  they are now certain to clear the 310 they need to govern with the support of the DUP. For a given value of "govern".

05:30:

Here's where we are. Labour have had a remarkable night in which they have taken seats from all of their opponents in England, Scotland and Wales. 

The Liberal Democrats have had a bruising night, including the loss of Nick Clegg. But they are larger and stronger than they were at the start of the night. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales, largely to Labour but also the Liberal Democrats

But what has saved their bacon are their gains in Scotland. They defeated Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and a bunch of other SNP MPs I am too tired to look up. 

In Northern Ireland, the unionist parties have swept the board, taking 11 out of 18 seats, and they will provide the extra votes the Conservatives need  but at a price. 

The BBC is projecting them to have 318 seats. Labour have 262 seats. What a great night. 

05:19: Ugh, a Tory gain. They've won Stoke-on-Trent North. But it's still a great, great night for Labour and, despite the pain of losing Nick Clegg, for the Liberal Democrats too. 

05:16: Here's where we are:

Labour have had a remarkable night, gaining seats and votes on 2015, winning seats everywhere from everyone. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales, but are gaining seats at a clip in Scotland. Thanks to the massive strides made by the unionist parties in Northern Ireland, they are safe in office provided they don't fall back below 310 seats. They are currently forecast to end up with 316. 

The Liberal Democrats have had a mixed night. They have switched losses and gains in England but have made gains in Scotland. Nick Clegg has lost his seat. 

05:12: A small point that may be (probably is) based on the maths of the tired. Corbyn has obviously done more than enough to stay on and have a second crack at the electorate, as Neil Kinnock did. But crucially, he doesn't have to anymore. If he wants to, he will. But the fear he had before that if he stepped down was that no candidate of the left could get on the ballot without help. Now, by my reckoning, the Labour left can now put a candidate on the ballot by itself. 

05:11: Wes Streeting has been re-elected in Ilford North. The Conservatives have utterly muffed this. 

05:07: The Conservatives have lost another seat, this time to the Liberal Democrats in Oxford West and Abingdon. 

05:04: John Woodcock is on air being nice about Jeremy Corbyn. We give Theresa May a hard time but she's unified the Labour party. 

05:01: Labour have lost North East Derbyshire, the deputy speaker Natascha Engel has lost her seat. 

04:58: The Mail has a critical front page about Theresa May. I am very concerned I will wake up soon. 

04:56: Amber Rudd has held on against a spirited Labour campaign. She pays tribute to her Labour opponent, the council leader, but of her own leader, not a word. 

04:55: Here's where we are:

Labour have had a remarkable night, gaining seats and votes on 2015, winning seats everywhere from everyone. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales, but are gaining seats at a clip in Scotland. Thanks to the massive strides made by the unionist parties in Northern Ireland, they are safe in office provided they don't fall back below 310 seats. They are currently forecast to end up with 316. 

The Liberal Democrats have had a mixed night. They have switched losses and gains in England but have made gains in Scotland. Nick Clegg has lost his seat. 

04:50: This is wonderful. Tory MPs are talking about Theresa May's future. Labour has survived almost completely intact and has gained votes and seats. 

04:45: Labour have held Barrow and Furness. That's right: the Conservatives campaigned hard on national security and Labour still won in the town they actually make the nuclear submarines in.  

And Simon Kirby, a minister, has lost his seat in Brighton Kemptown. 

04:43: Thought from Anoosh:

Even if he doesn’t win enough seats to be in government, Jeremy Corbyn’s already won by every other measure. His often-mocked view of politics as a “movement” has now translated into enough seats to be taken seriously, for him to stay where he is if he wants to, and for Labour to no longer be able to sneer at his and Momentum’s way of doing politics. “This is what a social movement can do – absolute vindication of everything Jeremy and the movement behind him stands for,” a Momentum source tells me. “However this ends, incredible result for us.”

04:41: After all this, it looks as if the Conservatives will be able to count the gains they have made against Labour on the fingers of one hand. 

04:31: Anna Soubry, fresh from surviving in Broxtowe, has called on Theresa May to consider her position.Says she would be being "generous" to call it a dreadful campaign. Sacked in the morning, sacked in the morning. 

04:26: The Conservatives have lost Plymouth Sutton and Davenport to Labour. 

04:24: The Conservatives have gained Mansfield, a Labour seat since 1923. It looks very likely they won't end up with the 326 they need to govern alone, though it looks as if the numbers are there for a Conservative-DUP arrangement. 

04:22: SMOKED SALMOND! Alex Salmond has lost his seat  the Tories have won Gordon

04:20: Here's where we are. 

Labour have had a remarkable night, gaining seats and votes on 2015, winning seats everywhere from everyone. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales, but are gaining seats at a clip in Scotland. Thanks to the massive strides made by the unionist parties in Northern Ireland, they are safe in office provided they don't fall back below 310 seats. 

The Liberal Democrats have had a mixed night. They have switched losses and gains in England but have made gains in Scotland. Nick Clegg has lost his seat. 

The broadcasters are now projecting that the Conservatives will end up wth 318 seats. 

04:16: Anna Soubry has held on in Broxtowe. The Conservatives look like they will get out of jail  just about. 

04:05: Here's where we are:

Labour have had a remarkable night, gaining seats and votes on 2015, winning seats everywhere from everyone. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales, but are gaining seats at a clip in Scotland. Thanks to the massive strides made by the unionist parties in Northern Ireland, they are safe in office provided they don't fall back below 310 seats. 

The Liberal Democrats have had a mixed night. They have switched losses and gains in England but have made gains in Scotland. Nick Clegg has lost his seat. 

The broadcasters are now projecting that the Conservatives will end up wth 318 seats. 

04:01: Conservatives' lower limit of seats revised to 315, above the danger area. They've just lost Cardiff North to Labour though. 

03:55: Another loss for the SNP, this time to the Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh West

03:54: Hearing that Labour have won Croydon Central from the Tories. 

03:51: Projected vote shares: Tories 43.1 per cent, Labour 39.7 per cent. It's back, baby, two party politics is back. It's good again! 

03:50: Sorry for the radio silence. I was doing a little dance. Not much more has happened. The knives are out for Theresa May, as you'd expect. 

03:32: Here's where we are:

Labour have had a remarkable night, reducing formidable leads to create many more winnable marginals than they started the night with and gaining seats in EnglandWales and Scotland. They have won seats from all corners and lost just one so far, the seat of Walsall. 

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales to Labour and the Liberal Democrats.  They have gained seats from the Lib Dems but at time of writing they are in net negative to that party. However, they have made big gains in Scotland

In Northern Ireland, the Unionist parties have swept the board while the SDLP have been wiped out. That means that as long as the Conservatives can remain above 310 seats, they will be able to remain in office thanks to the Unionist parties. 

The Liberal Democrats have lost Southport and Sheffield Hallam to the Conservatives and Labour respectively, but they have gained Bath and Eastbourne from the Tories and picked up seats from the SNP, too. 

3:30: The Liberal Democrats have gained Eastbourne and Bath. The projection is still for the Conservatives to be the largest party, but with 318 seats. Just eight more losses away from falling below that 310 figure when they won't be able to govern, even with the help of the DUP. 

03:26: The Conservatives have lost Canterbury, a seat they literally last lost to William Gladstone, to Labour. I am having a great time. 

03:23: Chanted "getting sacked in the morning" during May's speech, so I'm not sure what she said. 

03:21: A centre-left party has been wiped out in the United Kingdom tonight, but it's the SDLP. Patrick reports:

That's it for the SDLP. Margaret Ritchie has lost South Down to Sinn Fein's Chris Hazzard. No Irish nationalist - or unequivocally anti-Brexit - MPs will sit in the 2017 parliament. Expect the conversation around Brexit and the North will become much shriller and less informed as a result. 

Confirms that for the Tories, 310 is the survival number. 

03:19: The quantum Cruddas. Sky had incorrectly reported that he had lost his seat, apologies. 

03:17: A Conservative gain, of a sort, Patrick reports:

The DUP have won their tenth seat – Belfast South, arguably the most liberal and diverse in Northern Ireland. A remarkable coup for a party that backed Brexit, unlike almost 70 per cent of the electorate in that seat. Arlene Foster's sensational transformation from liability to asset continues apace. 

Congratulations to Emma Little-Pengelly, one of the most colourful and articulate characters in Northern Irish politics: she will doubtless make her mark on Westminster very quickly indeed. 

03:11: Jeremy Corbyn gives defiant speech, and well he might. He may have secured a minority government, he has certainly secured the "brilliant defeat" he wanted, and the right to lead Labour into a second election just as Neil Kinnock did. 

03:03: Here's where we are:

Labour have gained seats in England, Wales and Scotland, from the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. They have lost the seat of Walsall to the Tories.

The Conservatives have lost seats in England and Wales to Labour, but have swapped seats with the Liberal Democrats, losing Twickenham but gaining Southport.

The SNP are losing seats to everybody. Conservative gains, in excess of that predicted at the start of the night, looking to be making up for at least some of the lost seats elsewhere.

In Northern Ireland, the Unionist parties are sweeping the board. The SDLP, Labour's sister party, has been wiped out. 

That means that provided the Tories can finish with more than 310 seats, they will still be in office.

The result is a massive triumph and a huge step forward for Labour, who have closed the gap in many marginals that became near-unwinnable in 2015. 

03:01: Ben Gummer, who quipped that no-one read the New Statesman anymore, has lost his seat to Labour. Don't let the door hit you on your way out. 

03:00: Another loss for the SNP, with Labour retaking North East Glasgow. 

02:55: Some good news! Vince Cable has won his Twickenham seat from the Tories, on a massive swing. 

02:51: Some bad news I'm afraid. The Conservatives have won Walsall from Labour.  It looks likely that they will stay in office, but with a reduced or no majority at all. 

02:50: Kate Hoey has won in Vauxhall. 

02:46: More misery for the Liberal Democrats  Nick Clegg out, Labour have gained. Jo Swinson is back in East Dunbartonshire and will probably be party leader this time next week. 

02:40: Here's where we are. The Conservatives have suffered losses in England and Wales, but they have made one gain at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. They are making big strides in Scotland they have just gained East Renfrewshire

They are nailed onto to be the largest party but they may not make it above the magic number of 310  the point at which they will be able to form a government with the Unionist parties, who are sweeping the board in Northern Ireland.

As for Labour, they have made remarkable gains in ScotlandEngland and Wales but they are not quite breaking past the Conservatives. 

02:35: Give it up for everyone's favourite Armenian, Anoosh Chakelian is in da house! Also Labour have held Westminster North

02:30: The Conservatives have gained Southport from the Liberal DemocratsTim Farron may lose his seat. His party looks to be in real difficulty. 

02:20: Here's where we are:

Labour have made remarkable strides in England and Wales

But regrettably, the Conservative decline in England is being matched by forward strides in Scotland.

It now looks as if the Tories will end up able to govern, either alone or with the help of the Unionist parties. But it is very, very close. 

02:18: Bad news. The BBC are projecting the Conservatives to get 322 seats, as they are doing better than expected in Scotland. They have just beaten Angus Robertson in Moray. Lib Dem Jo Swinson has won back East Dunbartonshire. 

02:14: Bad news. The Conservatives are doing very well in Scotland. The banter result where Scotland imposes a Tory government on England is on.

02:09: Sorry, I got my Batterseas and my Putneys confused. Rupa Huq has just boosted it in Ealing Central, the number two Conservative target. 

02:05: Labour have won Battersea. The exit poll is right, the YouGov hung parliament projection is right. It is going to be a very, very close election. 

02:00: Here's where we are:

The exit poll has shown the Conservatives losing their majority, and it is now very clear that it will be borne out. If it is wrong, it is slightly understating the number of Labour gains.

Nick Clegg has lost his seat to Labour.

YouGov's hung parliamentary projection is being validated. 

In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein and the unionist parties are heading for a clean sweep. That means that if the Conservatives can hold 310 seats or more, they will be able to stay in office. But if they get below it, then things get very, very interesting. 

Oh, and the SNP are losing seats at a clip. The Conservatives have just won Angus from them.

01:56: Labour have held whichever Wolverhampton seat Emma Reynolds has. Who cares what it's called? There is a much bigger appetite for left-wing politics than many of us thought, and there is a great deal of life left in the Labour Party. 

01:55: Labour have held Enfield North

01:52: Hearing Labour have held Wirral South. In fact, I am yet to hear of a bad result for Labour in a seat they hold  so far.  (You'd expect some churn and change in any election.) 

01:50: The Conservatives have held Putney by just 1,500 votes. 

01:44: Labour have outrun the YouGov projection in Vale of Clwyd, striking as it voted to Leave. Give me four to five West Midlands results and I'd be very happy calling the result overall. We are definitely in hung parliament territory and it may be understating Labour. But watch out that the DUP and Sinn Fein are running the table in Northern Ireland means that if the Tories can take 310 seats they will be able to hold on with a majority of one. 

01:40: Labour have gained the Vale of Clwyd from the Conservatives. We need to run that against the three models but I would feel very confident betting almost everything I have on the exit poll being right. 

01:36: More from Patrick on Northern Ireland:

"The DUP have held Strangford and Lagan Valley: both safe seats. Early indications suggest that the SDLP  who are struggling in South Belfast and South Down  may well have lost Foyle too."

The SDLP look likely to be wiped out. The significance of that? The numbers are there, if the exit poll is borne out, for a Conservative-DUP arrangement to work. 

01:33: Carlisle again, when you account for the slight Brexit penalty that Labour is paying in Leave areas, another validation for the YouGov hung parliament projection and the exit poll. 

01:30: We are continuing to run results against the exit poll and YouGov's hung parliament projection, and Harrogate is another in which Labour are slightly overperforming the YouGov and exit poll projections. We need more from the Midlands but it looks nailed on that we are heading for a hung parliament. Hearing that Liz Kendall has held on in Leicester West

01:28: Labour have won Tooting.

01:26: Clarification from Patrick:

The "clean sweep" for the DUP and Sinn Fein excludes North Down, where independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon has already won  albeit with a massively reduced majority of 1,208 - and Fermanagh and South Tyrone, where they stood aside for the UUP. 

01:25: More from Patrick, where the DUP have got a good result out of North Down:

It looks to be a very good night indeed for the DUP. They have slashed the majority of independent Lady Sylvia Hermon from 9,202 to under 2,000. If this sensational swing is replicated across Northern Ireland, then the prediction of SDLP sources at the count could well be true: Sinn Fein and the DUP look set to clean up. It is likely that the unionist total will be 12 seats. 

01:20: We have run Rutherglen, the first Scottish seat to declare, against MRP. And it's very interesting: the SNP score is bob on, but Labour are doing much better. There was that very bad Swindon South result for Labour but other than that, Labour are performing better than MRP suggests. It looks very likely we are headed for a hung parliament and that if anything, Labour will be a larger force within it than the projection and the exit poll both suggest. 

01:19: Very important intel from Patrick in Northern Ireland:

SDLP source at the Belfast count predicting that it looks as if Sinn Fein and the DUP will win all of the Northern Irish seats. 

01:17: Bugger me backwards that's a great result for Labour, they've gained Rutherglen back from the SNP on a huge swing. 

01:15: Our first result out of Wales is in. Labour have held Wrexham, and we are modelling that. The Conservatives have won Swindon South, the first big miss of the YouGov hung parliament projection, and very surprising as from that Swindon North result we'd expect them to have lost.

01:10: It's clear that a number of people, including me, have got a great deal wrong about this election but there's one thing in particular: it looks like much more of a Brexit election than thought, particularly if the rumours that Kate Hoey has lost in Vauxhall are true. 

01:05: Rumours via the TimesGrant Tucker that Labour have held Wrexham. Another correct projection for YouGov and further validation for the exit poll if so. This is brilliant!

01:02: Labour have held Leigh. We are crunching the numbers on that one. It's a type of seat we don't have many of declaring yet so it will tell us a great deal. 

01:00: Hearing from all over that Nick Clegg is under threat in Sheffield Hallam. Again what we'd expect from the YouGov projection, particularly as Labour are overperforming it slightly in Remain-heavy areas. 

00:55: It's what we'd expect: YouGov's hung parliament is performing well, Labour doing slightly worse than predicted, but not by much. This election looks like a triumphant validation for YouGov, and for Jeremy Corbyn. 

00:53: Labour have held Darlington. We are modelling against MRP, which predicted 52-38 win for Labour. It voted to Leave so I think that we will see a slight underperformance there. We need more results from the Midlands and semi-rural areas but it looks as if the exit poll is broadly correct and YouGov's hung parliament projection will be validated. 

00:48: Here's where we are:

The exit poll has shown the Conservatives losing their majority, a validation of YouGov's experimental MRP model which showed exactly that.

So far that pattern is holding and MRP is being validated. They are slightly understating Labour in Remain-heavy areas and slightly overstating them in Leave-heavy areas but the effects are cancelling each other out. 

If the exit poll is wrong, it is slightly understating Labour's performance.  

00:44: And it seems that this holds true in Nuneaton, where Labour slightly underran the YouGov projection, but not by very much. We are certainly heading for a hung parliament. 

00:41: We are now modelling to see if there is a slight Leave penalty (or Remain bonus) for Labour. It seems they are outrunning YouGov's hung parliament projection in Remain-facing seats, and underrunning it in Leave-facing ones. Not by very much  the effect is cancelling itself out so far. 

00:40: Broxbourne has come in, and it's again within the ballpark of what we'd expect from the YouGov model. A little worse but it seems very clear to me now that we are heading for a hung parliament. The big question is how the numbers fall exactly and who can govern on them. 

00:34: Tories have held Nuneaton, we are crunching the numbers to see how that works on the model. I am hearing that Labour has won Kensington from all over. 

00:30: We have run the numbers on Kettering, and once again, YouGov's hung parliament model is holding up very well. It is actually slightly understating Labour. It now looks as though, if the exit poll is wrong, it is understating Labour's gains. 

00:26: We are hearing Tory worries about Battersea and Hastings, both of which look very close. And again we are seeing validation for YouGov's model, which showed very close fights in both those seats.

00:22: We have crunched the numbers on Newcastle North, and once again, what looked like a bad result for the exit poll is borne out by YouGov's MRP model showing a hung parliament, validating the exit poll. Those early bad results are consistent with what we'd expect if YouGov's hung parliament were right. 

00:19: I am hearing that Labour has won Swindon South, which would fit with the result in Swindon North – and it would fit with the MRP YouGov model showing a hung parliament. It would suggest the bad results from Sunderland and Newcastle were confirming rather than reputing the exit poll. 

00:12: We have crunched the numbers and once again YouGov's MRP figure is doing very well. In Sunderland West, Labour are slightly outperforming their estimate and the Tories are underperforming. 

And don't forget: MRP has showed the Tories losing their majority throughout the campaign.

00:10: Patrick has gossip from the Liberal Democrats: 

Senior Lib Dem source suggests gains in "London, Bath, Scotland". That chimes with what I heard from another party grandee earlier this week: that gains were most likely to come where the biggest of the party's beasts were standing again in Twickenham (Vince Cable), Kingston and Surbiton (Ed Davey), and East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson).

The party is also quietly confident of winning Edinburgh West, and have been talking up their chances in Ross, Skye and Lochaber - the late Charles Kennedy's former seat.

00:08: Labour hold in Sunderland West, we are crunching the numbers to give us a better idea of what that means. 

00:05: Some chatter that Kensington is in play. Again what YouGov's model showed. YouGov are looking very smart so far. 

00:01: Here's where we are.

The exit poll has showed Labour gaining seats and the Conservatives losing their majority. 

We have only had a few results, and the picture is mixed. Labour did worse in Sunderland and Newcastle, but better in Swindon South. There may well be a Remain-Leave, big city, small-L-liberal, whatever divide. But the interesting thing is that YouGov's demographic modelling is holding up very well as far as the results are concerned. 

00:00: Significantly better result for Labour in Swindon North, a marginal. Suggesting that Robert Buckland may be in real danger in Swindon South. But worse than YouGov's model. 

23:57: Newcastle East result. Better for the Conservatives than the exit poll suggests, we are just running the figures on YouGov's model now. 

23:54: Once again, although the Sunderland Central result is showing something different from the exit poll, it is bang on with MRP. The best they projected there was 61 per cent. Labour got 59 per cent. 

23:51: Just a thought to pass the time. If we are seeing a realignment, then 1) that messes up the exit poll as basically they run because the voter shifts are broadly the same. 2) No matter the result, some people will be on the wrong side of the realignment. 

23:48: Another result from Sunderland, this one from Sunderland Central, again showing Labour doing worse than the exit poll suggests. Peter Kellner suggests this could be due to the postal vote. But on the other hand, Amber Rudd sounds like she is in trouble with Hastings.

But basically it's too early to know much. 

23:42: A couple of thoughts about the exit poll. The two results so far suggest it could be out. But they are consistent with YouGov's projections, which also showed a hung parliament. 

23:40: Here's what the BBC are hearing:

23:37: We are due another result out of Sunderland any second now. 

23:33: Patrick has heard from the DUP. Surprise surprise, they would not be backing a Labour government: 

"Not that it was any doubt, but senior DUP source says it is 'correct' to say they wouldn't support a Labour administration  and predict that tonight will be a good night for their party. 

"Given what my sources in Belfast and beyond are saying, it looks likely that they could gain South Belfast from the SDLP and South Antrim from the UUP  and finish the night on 10 seats. 

"The DUP look like they will be kingmakers again should the Tories win another slender majority."

23:30: Here's where we are:

The exit poll has shown the Conservatives losing their majority and a parliament in which the voters of Northern Ireland will be crucial to deciding the next government.

We have only had two actual results so far, so we can't know all that much. But they suggest that the exit poll is wrong, that the Tories are doing better outside of big cities (sorry Sunderland) and Labour is doing very well in big cities (yay Newcastle). But they are only two results. 

23:27: And here's Julia. 

If the exit poll is right, then Blair McDougall, the former Better Together chief, has won East Renfrewshire for Labour. But after years of disappointing results, Scottish Labour is obviously nervous about calling it. I’ve heard more confidence about East Lothian, where SNP incumbent had a majority of 6,803 in 2015 but Labour was the runner up. This year the Labour candidate is Martin Whitfield

23:25: More reports from Patrick:

Source in Labour head office in Newcastle undeterred by sub-par swing in Sunderland and Newcastle: mood still jubilant despite the strong Tory showing. Chants of "CHI CHI CHI CHI!" ringing through the air. 

23:22: No matter what happens, seeing Patrick run across the office and punch the air when the Southport projection showed will stay with me and be something I'll be happy to have seen. 

23:18: People are asking me what the campaigns are saying, and to be frank they are not picking this up. But as I've written before, if Labour has ended up in office on the back of non-voters, most campaigns wouldn't pick them up. Young voters are hard to canvass as they tend to live in homes of multiple occupation, they work anti-social hours and they go out more. 

23:15: Patrick has gossip from Northern Ireland:

Sources at the Belfast count suggest the DUP are likely to hold North Belfast, home of DUP's Nigel Dodds who faced a strong challenge from Sinn Fein and East Belfast, where Naomi Long hoped to regain the seat she lost in 2015. 

They also suggest that DUP seem chipper about South Belfast, where the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell's is defending a majority of just 906. That would be a remarkable result: the DUP, among the most enthusiastic Brexiters, would win the most liberal and pro-EU constituency in Northern Ireland.

It would also add one seat to the unionist cohort on current numbers: should every other unionist hold their seats, there would be 12 unionist MPs. 

That matters as every Unionist MP pads the Tory score. 

23:11: It's just two seats but the pattern is what I feared and what seems to be happening to the left across the world. Doing well in cities, poorly outside of them, and under first past the post, just as with the electoral college in the United States, small towns outnumber cities. 

23:08: Declaration from Sunderland South. Labour are up, Tories are up more, suggesting the exit poll is underestimating their performance. It may be the Brexit pattern again: Labour doing well in real cities (Sunderland don't @ me) but being defeated in small towns and the countryside. 

23:06: People asking about the pound. The instability looks strange as this would put us on course for a softer Brexit. But the problem is that on this poll there looks to be no easy path to a majority for anyone. 

23:03: Ooop, sorry, wait, I got a bit excited. Looks like that is worse than the exit poll - a swing of 2 per cent from Tory to Labour, five points below what the exit poll suggests. It's just one seat, it's a safe seat, but as a straw, it doesn't point in the direction we'd hope. 

23:02: Newcastle Central have beaten Sunderland South to the first declaration. Chi Onwurah's vote is up by 5,000, which is what we'd expect if the exit poll was right. 

23:01: This is great. I thought I'd be alone doing this but people are coming into the office as far as I can tell just to enjoy the atmosphere and have a group hug. 

22:55: People are asking who turnout is up with. Basically, any answers of that kind won't be apparent until tomorrow. But we are close to a declaration from Sunderland South and Houghton and with it some clue as to how the exit poll is doing. 

22:50: Turnout is up by five points in Sunderland South and Houghton

22:47: Sad news. Sunderland will not be beating its record for first-declaration time. But in the context, who cares?

22:45: More from Patrick

Would Sinn Fein take their seats in return for a border poll? Who knows. But even if Labour formed a government, it would be phenomenally reckless for them to offer one.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Secretary *may* call a border poll if a majority of people look likely to vote for reunification.

That does not mean the secretary of state can't call one at his discretion  but for him to do so, particularly now, when a clear majority of voters still indicate they would vote to stay in the UK, would be a needlessly divisive act.

A Sinn Fein source just told me there was "not a chance" Sinn Fein would take their seats, as any vaguely informed observer of Irish politics would know.

Whatever happens, Sinn Fein won't take their seats. And even if Labour are desperate, they won't ask them to do so. 

22:42: People are asking to me about the errors. I stand by what I said about just rejoicing. But the highest historical error is 20  which would still mean the Tories would have lost seats. 

22:39: People are asking if anyone can even form a government. It all comes down to Northern Ireland, and the results at the margins. A few Tory holds against the odds, a few Labour gains and the minority governments become quite stable. 

22:33: Patrick, who I have discovered sounds a lot more Scouse when he's happy, has got a detailed explanation of the Northern Irish dimension.

As the results stand, the Tories would have a majority of one with the eleven votes of the Northern Irish unionist MPs – the 8 DUP MPs, the 2 UUP MPs, and Lady Sylvia Hermon.

There is no guarantee that the Northern Irish arithmetic will stay the same, but the predictions of Ulster's sole polling house, LucidTalk, suggest that only one seat will change hands: Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

SDLP sources report low turnout in their key defences of South Belfast and South Down, which would likely be won by the DUP and Sinn Fein respectively. 

Sinn Fein gains - which, at first glance, appear likely in South Down and Fermanagh and South Tyrone, would reduce the thresold for a parliamentary majority by two seats, as Sinn Fein do not take their seats.

There has been much speculation that Sinn Fein would renounce abtensionism and take their seats should Labour need support in a hung parliament. But a Sinn Fein source told me this week that stories were "absolute nonsense", and given that Sinn Fein have fought a combative campaign against the SDLP on the platform of not taking their seats, it would be a phenomenal and craven about-face.

So now the seats of the unionists are much more important. But at what price would their support come? If the debates of the past few months are anything to go by, they will likely seek to wield influence on the most contentious aspects of the province's culture wars: chief among them legacy prosecutions of Troubles veterans.

The SDLP say they would "always prefer a Labour government", and there is little chance they would support a Tory coalition.

Whatever happens, it doesn't bode well for the restoration of an executive at Stormont. 

22:31Julia has gossip from Scotland:

"The exit polls have the SNP down on 34, but these figures should be viewed with caution, according to opponents. A source comments: “Hard to see where those losses come from.” However, it does suggest that the SNP have lost seats not just to the Tories, but Labour and the Lib Dems."

22:28: Great craic from Patrick. What if Amber Rudd loses her seat, very possible on those numbers, then there's no heir apparent? Who'll be the Tory leader? WHO'LL BE THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION? 

22:27: Look, honestly, people are still asking if these numbers can be right. Look. If this is true: we are staying in the single market. We are guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens. We are moving towards a more sane deficit reduction plan and a more humane immigration policy. We can crunch the numbers when there are results but at the moment, let there be no doubt, no unhappiness, just rejoice at that news. 

22:25: Julia is very angry that the pound is down. "He's going to stay in the single market. People are stupid." 

22:22: Patrick has arrived. He is running the numbers on Northern Ireland. To be honest, I don't really know how to do a happy liveblog. But it's a lovely problem to have. 

22:19: The numbers are very interesting - Notorious PMG, our Northern Ireland expert, has been summoned to help explain it. Those 18 seats are now very, very important. But as it stands, it is very, very hard to see how it works 

22:18: I have obtained footage from CCHQ, minutes before the exit poll.

22:16: God this is great. 

22:13: Julia has news from Momentum, where, as you'd expect, there were hugs. 

 A source said: “We were always hopeful and we have run an incredible campaign and Jeremy's policies were fantastic, but the odds were stacked against us and we are very happy with the result, if this is the result."

22:11: Sorry, our swing calculation was off a little there. Jonn was too happy and divided twice. According the exit poll we're expecting a five point swing from Tory to Labour.  Now that's a sentence I feared I'd never get to type in this liveblog. 

22:10: The exit polls have been wrong before, but never by more than 20 seats. Of course, 20 seats would be quite a big difference right now, between a perilous Labour minority, a Tory minority in hoc to the DUP, or a very stable Labour minority administration. 

22:08: People are asking whether to believe it or not. My advice, don't question it, just cherish this feeling for however long it lasts. HER FACE HER FACE HER FACE RIGHT NOW. 

22:04: He did not hug me. I am feeling  actually I'm feeling chuffed to the bollocks.  

22:02: Jonn Elledge has been looking at the numbers and for the exit poll to be right, we should see a 2 per cent swing from Conservative to Labour when the seats start coming in. We should have our first result in at 22:41. 

22;02: You know that scene when the Death Star blows up and they all cheer? That is basically the three of us right now. 

22:00: The BBC exit poll is out. And wow, knock me down with a feather.

Conservatives 314 (-17)

Labour 266 (+34)

Liberal Democrats 14

Ukip 0

Green 1

SNP 34

PC 3

21: 58: That BBC election music has started. I'm starting to hate it. 

21:56: Christ my nerves are already in pieces. 

21:53: Joining me for the first shift until around 02:30  are Julia Rampen and Jonn Elledge, who are predicting Conservative majorities of 60 and 90 respectively. So it's a pretty bleak mood but the good news is, we've got the beers in. 

21:51: My feeling, what it's worth: there are two results I can sort of reconcile with what I've heard. The first is a hung parliament, where the sense it is a foregone conclusion among Conservative voters, the irritation at being asked to vote twice, May's unpopularity and the excitement Corbyn is inspiring among younger voters leads to an inconclusive result. And I can see one where Labour surges in the big cities and university towns but is smashed in towns and small cities, ie around 100. What I can't really get my head around is a 40-60 Tory majority. So that's probably what will happen. 

21:48: Another question. People are asking what I'm eating. I have had my pre-liveblog burger, this one from GBK. Not a classic but it filled the hole. I have also been mainlining fizzy drinks. No sleep until Leicester West! (Expected declaration at 7am, by which point we'll know if the overall result is win, lose or draw.) 

21:43: People are asking about reports of people being turned away from voting stations and postal votes not arriving. Plymouth Council has come under fire as a batch of postal votes have not arrived with their recipients, and people have been left off the electoral register. Both local parties are furious  the seat is a marginal  and are calling for a re-run in the event of a close result or one in which the majority is smaller than the number of votes that have gone awry. More on that as I get it. 

21:37: Another question I'm getting is: what will the exit poll show us? The answer is it will show us seat share. It won't tell us anything about popular vote totals and we won't know that until tomorrow at noon. Why not?
Because the exit poll measures not voting intention but voting change. Because everyone in Britain votes in the same way  or at least, they change in the same way  if the Labour vote is up 10 points in Hackney North, it will also be up 10 points in Harrogate. Now in those two very safe seats, that won't do Labour much good. They are miles ahead in Hackney North and miles behind in Harrogate. But in Harlow, a marginal seat, they would have won the election and be on course to take office with a narrow majority.  

21:34: A question a couple of people are asking: can a different party win the popular vote than wins the election? Yes. Under our system, what matters as far as who wins is who can get a majority of seats, whether through winning enough seats themselves to govern alone or through the help of allies. Parties have won the popular vote and lost the election twice before  in 1951, Labour won the popular vote but lost the election, and in 1974, the reverse happened. 

21:31: Good evening! We're half an hour away from the close of polls and with it the exit poll. I'm your host, Stephen Bush, and I'll be giving you results, updates, and being a bad winner or a poor loser depending on results. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Getty.
Show Hide image

The Brexit Beartraps, #2: Could dropping out of the open skies agreement cancel your holiday?

Flying to Europe is about to get a lot more difficult.

So what is it this time, eh? Brexit is going to wipe out every banana planet on the entire planet? Brexit will get the Last Night of the Proms cancelled? Brexit will bring about World War Three?

To be honest, I think we’re pretty well covered already on that last score, but no, this week it’s nothing so terrifying. It’s just that Brexit might get your holiday cancelled.

What are you blithering about now?

Well, only if you want to holiday in Europe, I suppose. If you’re going to Blackpool you’ll be fine. Or Pakistan, according to some people...

You’re making this up.

I’m honestly not, though we can’t entirely rule out the possibility somebody is. Last month Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss who attracts headlines the way certain other things attract flies, warned that, “There is a real prospect... that there are going to be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of weeks, months beyond March 2019... We will be cancelling people’s holidays for summer of 2019.”

He’s just trying to block Brexit, the bloody saboteur.

Well, yes, he’s been quite explicit about that, and says we should just ignore the referendum result. Honestly, he’s so Remainiac he makes me look like Dan Hannan.

But he’s not wrong that there are issues: please fasten your seatbelt, and brace yourself for some turbulence.

Not so long ago, aviation was a very national sort of a business: many of the big airports were owned by nation states, and the airline industry was dominated by the state-backed national flag carriers (British Airways, Air France and so on). Since governments set airline regulations too, that meant those airlines were given all sorts of competitive advantages in their own country, and pretty much everyone faced barriers to entry in others. 

The EU changed all that. Since 1994, the European Single Aviation Market (ESAM) has allowed free movement of people and cargo; established common rules over safety, security, the environment and so on; and ensured fair competition between European airlines. It also means that an AOC – an Air Operator Certificate, the bit of paper an airline needs to fly – from any European country would be enough to operate in all of them. 

Do we really need all these acronyms?

No, alas, we need more of them. There’s also ECAA, the European Common Aviation Area – that’s the area ESAM covers; basically, ESAM is the aviation bit of the single market, and ECAA the aviation bit of the European Economic Area, or EEA. Then there’s ESAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, which regulates, well, you can probably guess what it regulates to be honest.

All this may sound a bit dry-

It is.

-it is a bit dry, yes. But it’s also the thing that made it much easier to travel around Europe. It made the European aviation industry much more competitive, which is where the whole cheap flights thing came from.

In a speech last December, Andrew Haines, the boss of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said that, since 2000, the number of destinations served from UK airports has doubled; since 1993, fares have dropped by a third. Which is brilliant.

Brexit, though, means we’re probably going to have to pull out of these arrangements.

Stop talking Britain down.

Don’t tell me, tell Brexit secretary David Davis. To monitor and enforce all these international agreements, you need an international court system. That’s the European Court of Justice, which ministers have repeatedly made clear that we’re leaving.

So: last March, when Davis was asked by a select committee whether the open skies system would persist, he replied: “One would presume that would not apply to us” – although he promised he’d fight for a successor, which is very reassuring. 

We can always holiday elsewhere. 

Perhaps you can – O’Leary also claimed (I’m still not making this up) that a senior Brexit minister had told him that lost European airline traffic could be made up for through a bilateral agreement with Pakistan. Which seems a bit optimistic to me, but what do I know.

Intercontinental flights are still likely to be more difficult, though. Since 2007, flights between Europe and the US have operated under a separate open skies agreement, and leaving the EU means we’re we’re about to fall out of that, too.  

Surely we’ll just revert to whatever rules there were before.

Apparently not. Airlines for America – a trade body for... well, you can probably guess that, too – has pointed out that, if we do, there are no historic rules to fall back on: there’s no aviation equivalent of the WTO.

The claim that flights are going to just stop is definitely a worst case scenario: in practice, we can probably negotiate a bunch of new agreements. But we’re already negotiating a lot of other things, and we’re on a deadline, so we’re tight for time.

In fact, we’re really tight for time. Airlines for America has also argued that – because so many tickets are sold a year or more in advance – airlines really need a new deal in place by March 2018, if they’re to have faith they can keep flying. So it’s asking for aviation to be prioritised in negotiations.

The only problem is, we can’t negotiate anything else until the EU decides we’ve made enough progress on the divorce bill and the rights of EU nationals. And the clock’s ticking.

This is just remoaning. Brexit will set us free.

A little bit, maybe. CAA’s Haines has also said he believes “talk of significant retrenchment is very much over-stated, and Brexit offers potential opportunities in other areas”. Falling out of Europe means falling out of European ownership rules, so itcould bring foreign capital into the UK aviation industry (assuming anyone still wants to invest, of course). It would also mean more flexibility on “slot rules”, by which airports have to hand out landing times, and which are I gather a source of some contention at the moment.

But Haines also pointed out that the UK has been one of the most influential contributors to European aviation regulations: leaving the European system will mean we lose that influence. And let’s not forget that it was European law that gave passengers the right to redress when things go wrong: if you’ve ever had a refund after long delays, you’ve got the EU to thank.

So: the planes may not stop flying. But the UK will have less influence over the future of aviation; passengers might have fewer consumer rights; and while it’s not clear that Brexit will mean vastly fewer flights, it’s hard to see how it will mean more, so between that and the slide in sterling, prices are likely to rise, too.

It’s not that Brexit is inevitably going to mean disaster. It’s just that it’ll take a lot of effort for very little obvious reward. Which is becoming something of a theme.

Still, we’ll be free of those bureaucrats at the ECJ, won’t be?

This’ll be a great comfort when we’re all holidaying in Grimsby.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Brexit. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.