When the exit poll came in at 22:00 on a wet Thursday night, nobody could quite believe it. The poll, conducted by several news agencies and polling stations, predicted that the ruling Conservative Party would manage 368 seats against Labour’s 191. To put that into perspective, that is landslide area.
It put everyone in a spin, from excited Tories to horrified opponents. Still, exit polls have been wrong in the past- they predicted a hung parliament in 1992 when there was in fact a surprise Conservative win. As the hours wore on and announcements were made in the wee hours of the morning, it turned out that the poll wasn’t actually that far off.
At around 5 in the morning, it was clear that Tories had pulled off not only a majority, but the biggest since Margaret Thatcher’s years. It also managed the highest vote share of any party since 1997.
Here are the results in full, set in stone after the final constituency, St. Ives, was called the next afternoon.
England, Scotland and Wales:
Conservative and Unionist Party- 365 seats, net gain of 48, 13,966,565 votes, 43.6% of the vote. Increase of 1.2%
Labour Party- 202 seats, net loss of 60, 10,269,076 votes, 32.1% of the vote. Decrease of 7.9%.
Liberal Democrats- 11 seats, net loss of 1, 3,696,423 votes, 11.6% of the vote. Increase of 4.2%
Scottish National Party- 48 seats, net gain of 13, 1,242,372 votes, 3.9% of the vote. Increase of 0.8%
Green Party of England and Wales- 1 seat, no change, 835,579 votes, 2.7% of the vote. Increase of 1.1%
Plaid Cymru- 4 seats, no change, 153,265 votes, 0.5 of the vote. No change.
Brexit Party- No seats, 642,303 votes, 2.0% of the vote.
Democratic Unionist Party– 8 seats, net loss of 2, 244,128 votes, 0.8% of the vote. Decrease of 0.1%
Sinn Féin- 7 seats, no change, 181,853 votes, 0.5% of the vote. Decrease of 0.2%
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland- 1 seat, net gain of 1, 134,115 votes, 0.4% of the vote. Increase of 0.2%.
Social Democratic and Labour Party- 2 seats, net gain of 2, 118,737 votes, 0.4% of the vote. Increase of 0.1%
Results Party by Party:
Conservatives (365 seats): Nobody was really sure as to how it would go for Boris Johnson when he called the election. The polls had him up ahead by various percentage points, leaning from Tories being the largest party but short of a majority, to a landslide. Only a few days before, a scandal involving a young boy resting on the floor of a major city hospital seemed to sink Johnson in the polls.
His campaign was full of excitement, with Johnson throwing himself into every activity he could. One saw him drive through polystyrene blocks with a giant digger with ‘Get Brexit Done’ written on the front. Unfortunately, Johnson was seen to be dodging the press, such as not attending a 7 way leader debate, a climate change panel and an interview with Andrew Neil, the brilliant and astute interviewer who all politicians rightly fear.
There were a few gaffes from candidates. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the break out party star turned Leader of the House of Commons, was an early casualty. His ill-advised comments on Grenfell, a tragic high rise fire that killed many and caused anger across the country, were immediately condemned. Once a popular one on the media circuit, nobody saw him until his own count. Party Chair James Cleverly was in the hot seat after defending a doctored video of Sir Keir Starmer, a high ranking Labour member. Some candidates were withdrawn after anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments.
Fortunately for the party, they managed to absolutely walk the election. Not only did they protect most of their seats, but gained 58 and only lost 10. The main victory was the break of the so-called ‘Red Wall.’ This wall went all the way across Northern England from coast to coast, a nearly unbroken row of Labour seats. These seats had a lot in common- traditionally red seats which voted strongly for leave and were left out of Labour’s new metropolitan values. Some managed astonishing majorities, whilst others squeaked by. Many veteran Labour politicians lost seats they had held for years as Conservatives took seats they hadn’t had in 100 years.
The first two announcements of the night were Labour protections, but the third was a big one. Blyth Valley, a seat in Northumberland, had not had a Tory since its inception in 1950 but returned Ian Levy with a majority of 712. After that, the Red Wall crumbled. Great Grimsby, a huge focus of the media, managed to go from a 2K Labour majority to a 7K Conservative one. Old mining areas such as North West Durham and Welsh seats turned massively blue.
One of the biggest scalps was in Bolsover, Derbyshire. The mining seat was held by Dennis Skinner since 1970. The second longest serving member of the house, Skinner is an ardent socialist, republican and old school Labourite with a burning hatred for Tories. Still, he was a Leaver. At 87 years old, Skinner is one of the oldest men ever to serve. He wasn’t even at the count due to ill health, so he couldn’t watch Mark Fletcher earn a majority of 5,299.
Labour (202 seats): Jeremy Corbyn was initially reluctant to back an election for several reasons, mainly because he was predicted to lose. He eventually leant his support and the rest, as they say, is history. The polls had his party at consistent losses- even if they gained seats; they weren’t predicted to match the Tories. Still, there was optimism- polls are wrong.
It was a rough campaign for Labour, though Corbyn was brave enough to take the Andrew Neil interview. Corbyn does have a lot of popularity amongst certain demographics, so was treated like a rock star when he visited some places. He also avoided the larger leadership debates, but did attend the climate change panel what Johnson and the Brexit Party did not.
The Labour campaign was generally more of an ‘oh crap’ variety than a gaffe. The first was on the NHS, which Labour tends to do better on. Whilst they did manage to spin things in their favour after the Leeds hospital scandal, there were problems beforehand. Corbyn announced he’d obtained documents from UK-USA trade deal talks that indicated that the government wanted to sell off the NHS. Though this caused initial favour, many soon mocked him over the perceived lack of evidence. That was the least of Corbyn’s worries, however. Former MPs disavowed him, even encouraging voters to turn to the Tories. Anti-Semitism has been a problem for Labour for a while, with polls showing 82% of Jews feel that the party actively hates them. With an unprecedented intervention by the Chief Rabbi and comments from Jewish defectors, Labour also found the complaint to the ECHR leaked. It wasn’t pretty.
Come election night, Labour found themselves in a nightmare. They lost 61 seats and gained 1, but at least beat the prediction of the exit poll by 12 seats. Their one gain was in Putney, a former Tory/Independent seat, with a fair 4K majority. In terms of loss, that was covered in the previous Conservative section.
Labour tried two big scalps. The first was in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, the seat of Boris Johnson. Labour out their all into ousting Johnson, who faced the smallest majority of any sitting Prime Minister and active challenge from his red rivals. Johnson, however, managed to increase his majority. The second was Chingford and Wood Green, the seat of former Tory Leader Iain Duncan Smith. With the Brexit Party and Greens stepping aside, and with no independent challenge, it was essentially a two horse race with Lib Dems in second. As in Uxbridge, Labour flooded the seat with activists. Though IDS was returned with a halved majority, he still won.
Liberal Democrats (11 seats): The Lib Dem surge that failed to materialise in previous years was hoped for by leader Jo Swinson this year. After initially evading the first attempt to get an early election, they eventually agreed when the vote date was changed. The polls had them making gains, ranging from 13 to 25 seats.
The campaign essentially capitalised on one thing- Stop Brexit. Though the Lib Dems offered centrist, moderate policies and attempted to appeal to the middle ground of voters who didn’t want to vote for the main two, it was essentially an anti-Brexit campaign. The initial plan was to endorse a second referendum, but it went more extreme when it decided that it would Revoke Article 50 if they managed to win a majority. They eventually dropped that when in fighting commenced.
The Lib Dems lost one seat but gained another. This cancelled one another out, leading to a net zero change. The win was in the constituency of Richmond Park, a target for the party as they’d won it in the 2016 by-election. This was a satisfactory win against incumbent Zac Goldsmith, an ardent Brexiter in a remain seat, and previous MP Sarah Olney was duly re-elected. This was a campaign they attempted in Esher and Walton, the seat of Foreign Secretary and ardent leaver Dominic Raab. The majority was slashed from 23K to 2K, but Raab managed to sneak back in. Their one loss, however, was more unfortunate in that it was the seat of party leader Jo Swinson. By only 149 votes, Swinson lost to a hard fought SNP machine, one of many victories for the latter party that night.
SNP (48 seats) – The SNP was initially hesitant about an election, but later joined the Lib Dems in supporting it once the vote date changed. As one can imagine, the SNP only focused north of the border due to it being their electoral stomping ground. Polls were fairly positive, though not as much as they were in the 2015 election.
The main message was anti-Brexit, anti-Boris and pro-Independence. A nationalist left party that already has the majority in the devolved parliament, they had an incumbent advantage. As Scotland was deeply, deeply remain, many voters rejected Labour due to their vague policy on Brexit. The Tories are already mistrusted in Scotland and after the resignation of popular Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson, they took a nosedive.
It was an excellent night for them, with a gain of 13 seats. Whilst their best scalp was Jo Swinson’s East Dunbartonshire, they took seats from other parties and perceived this as a fresh mandate for Scottish Independence.
Green Party (1 Seat) – The polls weren’t optimistic for the Greens, but they weren’t pessimistic either. The Green Party attempted to capitalise on the huge interest in climate change, focusing that as the main issue of their campaign. Its co-leaders attended the climate change debate and also pushed it on a national level- one of the leaders was even arrested at an Extinction Rebellion protest. Though it was also against Brexit, the environment was the singular focus.
Whilst the Greens did enjoy an increased vote share, as they had in the EU elections, they did not gain any seats. In their one seat, Brighton Pavilion, they did manage a nearly 20K majority.
Plaid Cymru (4 seats) – Similar to Scotland in their desire for independence and if not, further devolution, Plaid was hoping to see a mandate for their plan. They also talked about their negative stance on Brexit and how they thought it would negatively affect Wales. As with Scotland, they were only limited to one area.
The Conservatives made gains in Wales, but they were all from Labour. One must remember Wales voted strongly for leave and with a few Tories already in place, they managed to gain some seats. There was no change for Plaid, who neither gained nor lost seats.
Brexit Party (0 Seats) – Let’s just say this was where things got a little out of hand.
Initially, the Brexit Party planned to field candidates in nearly every seat they could out of anger for Boris Johnson’s deal, which they hated. Eventually, leader Nigel Farage became too fearful that this would cause a vote split, so stood down in seats where the Tories already had an incumbent. Though this was good for Brexiters, many in his own party showed anger- especially since they had managed to win the European Elections after only a few weeks of being. Some were still angry that the party stood in Labour/Con marginals that could swing to the latter, such as Great Grimsby.
Come election night and what was predicted happened. Polls had suggested that the Brexit Party would get no seats and they were proven correct. Their main hope was pinned on coastal Leave town Hartlepool, which fielded the most prominent candidate- Richard Tice (Farage did not run, remaining in the EU Parliament). Tice managed a very respectable 10K, but many accused him of allowing Labour to get back in at the Tories’ expense.
It wasn’t helped by Farage’s perceived lack of interest in his own party. Four MEPs quit just days before the election and urged people to vote Conservative, as did a few of his candidates. He also said he was unsure how to vote and eventually revealed he spoiled his ballot.
For the first time in recent history, nationalist parties now outweigh unionist parties in the NI section of Parliament. DUP, the confidence and supply partner of the Conservatives after the 2017 hung parliament, suffered two losses. The biggest was in Belfast North, home of Deputy Leader of the Party and Leader of the DUP in Parliament, Nigel Dodds. The second was Belfast South. The first loss was to left wing nationalists Sinn Féin and the second was to socialist democratic nationalist SNLP.
SNLP and Alliance, a liberal centrist party, made one and two gains respectively. Sinn Féin lost one seat, but gained the aforementioned Belfast North.
In conclusion, this was an election that nobody expected. Those who predicted a Boris Johnson victory did not think he’d manage a majority of 80. The even more cautious thought that there could be a hung parliament. Johnson now has the mandate to not only push Brexit through, but his agenda too. As Labour licks its wounds and Swinson resigns, it’ll be a while before we truly know the cost of the election for the parties. Blame is being pointed around, but that is not for this article.
For once, there is a decisiveness within British democracy.