London, Dec 13 (IANS) The UK’s Conservatives have taken a string of former Labour strongholds, with the ruling party forecast to win the general election, deemed as one of the country’s most crucial and decisive, with a comfortable majority, exit polls revealed on Friday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s gamble to push for an early vote as a way to end the parliamentary deadlock on Brexit looks to have paid off, with the number of Conservative seats in Parliament growing from 330 in 2017 to 368, according to the exit polling carried out by Ipsos-Mori on behalf of the BBC, ITV and Sky television.
Johnson needed 326 seats for an absolute majority, Efe news reported.
It looked like a dismal showing for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which was predicted to lose 41 seats, falling to 191, its weakest position in decades.
That outcome would leave Labour 86 seats behind the Conservatives and could raise questions about Corbyn’s future at the helm of the UK’s left-leaning party.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) was poised to take 55 seats in the chamber, up from 35 in the last election. The Liberal Democrats could take 13, up from 12, though party leader Jo Swinson looked in danger of losing her seat in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, to the SNP.
The Greens were tipped to take one, while the Brexit Party looked stuck on zero.
The official count is set to continue with final the results expected Friday morning, but Johnson decided not to wait before expressing his gratitude.
“Thank you to everyone across our great country who voted, who volunteered, who stood as candidates. We live in the greatest democracy in the world,” he said on Twitter.
Corbyn, meanwhile said that it was a “very disappointing night for the Labour Party” – and he would not lead it into the next election.
If the media exit polls were accurate, it would mean the biggest Conservative majority since 1987 and the UK would likely be on track to leave the European Union (EU) at the end of next month, as Johnson had promised during the campaign.
Downing Street said in a statement that if the exit polls were correct and Johnson returns to Downing Street, there will be a minor cabinet reshuffle on December 16, reports the BBC.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill, paving the way for Brexit on January 31, 2020, would have its second Commons reading on December 20.
A major reshuffle would take place in February, after the UK has left the EU, the Downing Street added, with a Budget statement in March.
Running on the slogan “Get Brexit Done”, Johnson pushed for early elections in a bid to recover a majority in Parliament and break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament.
Johnson inherited a minority government from predecessor Theresa May, who lost her majority in a miscalculated decision to call a snap election in 2017 in a bid for a mandate to proceed with Brexit.
May stepped down earlier this year after the House of Commons, the lower chamber of lawmaking in the UK, rejected her Brexit withdrawal deal three times.