Westminster exit poll points to big wins for Tories, SNP

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Polling stations have now closed in the Westminster general election and a major exit poll in Britain has predicted a large working majority for the Conservative Party and a landslide for the SNP in Scotland.

The exit poll for BBC, ITV and Sky tonight predicts the Tories will win 368 seats, 50 more than at the 2017 election, while Labour will get 191 seats.

Lib Dems are expected to get 13 seats, the SNP 55, none for the Brexit Party and one for the Green Party.

The Westminster election is run under the constituency winner-takes-all, first-past-the-post system.

Sterling jumped by 2% on the news of the exit poll, which was conducted by Ipsos Mori at 144 polling stations, with 22,790 interviews.

The Tory majority is therefore projected to be 86, larger than had been predicted by other recent polls. That outcome, or close to it, would set the scene for the rapid passage of Brexit legislation to implement the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated in October by Tory leader Boris Johnson and the EU.

It would also mean that the DUP has lost the balance of power and will have far less influence in any future Brexit negotiations on the border through Ireland.

The other major headline is the prediction that the SNP has made huge gains, going from 35 seats to 55 out of a total of 59 Scottish MPs in what would be a historic high vote for Scottish nationalism. Such a result would hand SNP leader Nicole Sturgeon a strong mandate for a referendum on independence before the end of the Brexit transition period, potentially keeping Scotland within the EU despite Brexit, which looks almost certain to go ahead.

Brexit was the dominant factor in the election with the Tories promising to “get Brexit done” by the end of January. Labour had a more nuanced position, pledging a renegotiation of Brexit followed by a new referendum on their deal.

As well as a crushing disappointment for Labour, the exit poll also predicts a poor election for the Liberal Democrats, who appear to have failed to capitalise on their clear anti-Brexit stance.

In the north of Ireland, no exit poll was carried out, although anedotal predictions on the ground suggest that DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly is in trouble in south Belfast, while her colleague Nigel Dodds has secured turnouts of over 70% in some loyalist areas and it is “too close to call” between him and Sinn Féin’s John Finucane.

A result is expected to be known from most of the Irish constituencies around 3am in the morning.

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