Theresa May will fall short of an overall majority, the shock general election exit poll has predicted.
According to the BBC/Sky News/ITV poll conducted by NOP/Ipsos MORI released at 10pm on Thursday, the prime minister’s decision to call a snap election has disastrously backfired.
If the poll is accurate, the Conservatives will win 314 seats, Labour 266, the SNP 34 and the Lib Dems 14.
It would mean May would be 12 MPs short of the 326 required for a Commons majority.
When May called the election on April 18, it was widely assumed she would win a sweeping victory against Jeremy Corbyn.
But if the exit poll is right, rather than securing an increased majority the prime minister is now facing questions over her future.
It would mean that combined, Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems would have 314 MPs out of the 650 in the Commons - the same as the Conservatives.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has ruled out going into coalition with Corbyn’s Labour.
The Conservatives had 330 MPs and a working majority of 17 going into the election.
During the campaign, May said “if I lose just six seats I will lose this election”. If the exit poll is right, she has lost 16.
According to the poll, there are 76 seats that are too close to call.
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Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC he wanted to see “actual results” before the exit poll was interpreted one way or another.
But speaking on ITV, George Osborne said that the outcome of the election could be “completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and Theresa May”.
Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, said May should resign.
“If this is right I think she should consider her position,” she told Sky News. “I think she should go because I think she has manifestly failed and secondly, I think that we will see what happens next, but if the Labour Party is called on to provide the next government we will do so.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said if the exit poll was right then May’s “position is becoming increasingly untenable”.
“Theresa May promised on seven different occasions that she wouldn’t go for a snap general election,” he told the BBC. “And she went for it on the basis that she wanted to secure a mandate that she already had.
“People just saw through that. They saw this as an election which was for party advantage rather than the interests of the country. And it looks as though they’ve rejected her as a result.”
Michael Gove, the former Conservative cabinet minister, told ITV May has an “absolute right” to remain as leader of the Conservative Party. “I think at the end of the night we will have a Conservative majority.”