David Cameron and Conservatives emerge victorious in UK election
Breaking News: British Conservatives Win Outright Majority
London: Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party won a surprisingly solid victory in the British general election Thursday, with projections and partial results Friday morning showing that the party will at a minimum come close to winning an overall majority in Parliament.
Even if the Conservatives fall short of a majority, Cameron appears all but certain to remain prime minister, with the choice of working with at least two smaller parties or trying to run a minority government.
The vote was a significant disappointment for the Labour Party and its leader, Ed Miliband, who saw his hopes of ejecting Cameron from Downing Street dissipate overnight.
Labour was nearly wiped out in Scotland by the surging Scottish National Party and did poorer than pre-election polls had suggested it would in the rest of Britain.
“Now the results are still coming in, but this has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour Party,” Miliband said in a quasi concession after being re-elected to his seat in the House of Commons.
The results were also a disaster for Nick Clegg and the centrist Liberal Democrats, who have been the junior partner in a coalition with the Conservatives. The results raised questions about whether Miliband and Clegg might have to resign as leaders of their parties.
The latest projections by the BBC, based on incomplete results and a national exit poll, put the Conservatives at 329 seats, three more than an absolute majority in the 650-member House of Commons.
Should the Conservatives win 329 seats when all the votes are tallied Friday, it would be a gain of 22 seats from the last election, in 2010.
Speaking in his electoral district after his re-election, Cameron said it was “clearly a very strong night for the Conservative Party,” although he added that it was too soon to say exactly what sort of result there will be when all the results are declared.
The projections put the Labour total at 233 seats, a decline of 25 seats from the 2010 results. The Scottish National Party was projected to be on track to have won 56 of 59 seats in Scotland, rolling over Labour. In 2010, the Scottish nationalists won only six seats.
For Cameron, the results appeared to be a vindication after a campaign in which opinion polls consistently showed Labour running even with the Conservatives.
But even if the final results give him the ability to govern without a coalition partner, he will face immense challenges, not least in holding off calls from Scotland for independence and in managing pressure from within his own party for Britain to leave the European Union.
Cameron has promised to try to renegotiate terms of Britain’s membership in the 28-nation European bloc and to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.