5am update: Conservatives set to miss out on majority

The exit polls had it right: Theresa May’s gamble has backfired.

The Conservatives are on course to lose their overall majority, dropping seats to Labour not only in metropolitan London, but also in Leave-supporting places such as Ipswich, Peterborough and High Peak.

A non-committal Theresa May, who easily won her seat in Maidenhead, said her party would seek to ensure a “period of stability” after the election.

Labour are heading for their best result since 2005, but would have a difficult task assembling enough MPs in the new Parliament to form a government.

SYB is estimating that the Tories will win 312 seats to Labour’s 268, with 14 Lib Dem MPs and 34 for the SNP.

The Liberal Democrats have had a mixed night. Vince Cable took Twickenham back from the Tories and the party picked up a handful of other seats, while leader Tim Farron appears to have survived a recount to retain his Westmorland and Lonsdale seat.

However, the Lib Dems suffered a setback in Sheffield Hallam where former leader Nick Clegg was unseated by Labour, and the party’s vote share has hardly risen overall.

SYB‘s latest estimates have the Conservatives on 43% of the vote ahead of Labour on 41%, with the Lib Dems on 8%.

Ukip have all but disappeared, with a vote share of barely 2%, as many more of their former voters switched to Labour than pundits expected.

The SNP have fallen back from their peak in 2015, as Westminster leader Angus Robertson lost his seat to the Conservatives in Moray. Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems also made gains.

Pundits are speculating about the PM’s future as party leader, with her authority so damaged by this election.

The Lib Dems, SNP and Greens have all said they would not support a Conservative government, although May might reach out to unionist MPs in Northern Ireland.

However, even a coalition or agreement between Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP might not have enough seats to form a government.

In all, it has been a night of uneven results, supported by higher turnout from young voters. While the Tories have lost ground in much of England, they have performed unusually well in Scotland.

With such an indecisive sound of the electoral trumpet, the results have produced quite the opposite of the ‘unity’ which May was hoping for when she called the election.