U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron won an emphatic election victory in Britain, overturning predictions that the vote would be the closest in decades to sweep into office for another five years, with his Labour opponents in tatters.
Britain’s Conservative party has secured an effective parliamentary majority with most results from a national election reported. With only 10 of 650 parliamentary seats still to announce results on Friday, the Conservatives have won 325. The main opposition Labour party is trailing far behind on 228.
In practice, that number is enough to command a majority as four lawmakers from Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein will refuse to take their places in Westminster and with more seats yet to come, Prime Minister Cameron’s tally is likely to increase.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband announced he was resigning the party leadership, saying that Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy, will take over as caretaker leader, the Guardian reported.
The sterling currency and share prices soared on a result that reversed expectations of an inconclusive “hung parliament” with Cameron jockeying for power with Labour rival Ed Miliband. Instead, Cameron was due to meet Queen Elizabeth before noon to accept a swift mandate to form a government.
But despite the unexpectedly decisive outcome, more uncertainty looms over whether Britain will stay in the European Union – and even hold together as a country.
Scottish nationalists swept aside Labour, meaning that Scotland, which voted just a year ago to stay in the United Kingdom, will send just three representatives of major British parties to parliament and be all but shut out of the cabinet. That could revive calls for it to leave Britain.
Cameron’s victory also means Britain will face a vote which he has promised on continued membership in the EU. He says he wants to stay in the bloc, but only if he secures changes to its rules in negotiations that have not yet begun. Cameron returned, smiling, to the prime minister’s office in Downing Street early on Friday.
“I want my party – and, I hope, a government I would like to lead – to reclaim a mantle we should never have lost, the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom,” Cameron said.
Lib Dems, UKIP leaders resign
In addition to Labour’s Ed Miliband, the leaders of both the U.K. Independence Party, known for its anti-immigration policies, and the Liberal Democrats, both announced their resignations as party chiefs. UKIP’s Nigel Farage said on Friday he was quitting as leader after he failed to win a parliamentary seat, but said he didn’t rule out running for the leadership again. “There will be a leadership election for the next leader of UKIP in September and I will consider over the course of this summer whether to put my name forward to do that job again,” Farage told reporters.
Clegg’s center-left Liberal Democrats was crushed in the elections, perhaps reduced to single digits after winning 57 seats five years ago.
‘Very disappointing’ night for Labour
Labour leader Ed Miliband said on Friday that his party had suffered a “very disappointing” night after election results showed it was on track to lose seats and lag far behind Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives. On Twitter, the Labour leader took full responsibility for his party’s election loss, and said that while defeats are hard, “we’re a party that will never stop fighting for the working people of this country.”
“This has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour Party,” he told supporters after retaining his own parliamentary seat in Doncaster, northern England.
Effectively conceding defeat, Miliband added that he was “deeply sorry” for what had happened elsewhere in Britain, especially in Scotland where he said a surge of nationalism had overwhelmed the Labour party.
Compouding the bad news for Labour was the news that Ed Balls, a Labour member of parliament since 2005 and a long-time ally of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, lost his seat on the outskirts of the northern English city of Leeds to a Conservative challenger by a margin of just 422 votes. Balls was vying to become Britain’s next finance minister, and his defeat marks one of the most high-profile losses for the opposition at Thursday’s national election.
Anti-Israel Galloway loses seat, says ‘Zionists will be celebrating’
George Galloway, the U.K Respect Party leader known for his vehemently anti-Israel views, lost his constituency in Bradford West to Labour, and has also been reported to police for allegedly violating election laws, the BBC reported. Galloway has been accused of retweeting Respect’s own exit poll before poll closed. Under section 66 of britain’s Representation of the People’s Act, it is illegal to discuss voting while polls are still open. A Galloway spokesperson denied the accusation, telling the BBC that the report is a “storm in a thimble.”
In his concession speech, Galloway said that “the venal, the vile, the racists and the zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact I’m going off now to plan the next campaign,” The Independent reported.
Galloway declared the northern English city of Bradford “an Israel-free zone” in 2014, leading to a police investigation.