What a night. As predicted by the exit poll, the Tories have suffered their worst-ever result since 1832. The projected total of 122 seats is less than the 156 seats they won in the Liberal landslide of 1906. Boris’s 2019 coalition has been entirely shattered: areas that voted heavily to leave the EU had some of the biggest swings away from the Tories.

Many big ministerial beasts were unceremoniously slayed, with Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt, Gillian Keegan, Alex Chalk, and Jacob Rees-Mogg losing their seats. Former prime minister Liz Truss was brutally punished, losing her seat by just 630 votes to Labour, which overturned her majority of 26,000.

Nigel Farage won Clacton for Reform and will enter the Westminster fray for the first time, more than 30 years after his first attempt to stand. He will be joined by Richard Tice, who secured a seat for Reform in Boston and Skegness, as well as Lee Anderson, who prevailed in Ashfield, and Rupert Lowe, who won in Great Yarmouth.

Labour wrenched Rochdale back from George Galloway but was unsuccessful in ousting Jeremy Corbyn, who held onto Islington North as an independent MP. In a concerning sign of the discontent over Gaza, Labour lost four seats (including that of shadow cabinet minister Jonathan Ashworth) to pro-Palestinian independence candidates. 

The Green party won all four of its target seats, while the SNP has haemorrhaged votes to Labour, securing only nine seats at the last count. Senior party figures have suggested that independence will be put on the back burner. 

Although Starmer’s expected seat haul is close to the 418 seats won by Blair in his stunning 1997 victory, Labour is set to win power with only about 34% of the national vote – only about 2% higher than 2019 and smaller than the 40% secured by Corbyn in 2017 – making this election more comparable to 2005 instead. This will make it the lowest-ever winning share, placing Labour only 10 points higher than the Conservatives (before the vote, polls had put it 20 points ahead).

Sir John Curtice told the BBC: “This looks more like an election the Conservatives have lost than one Labour have won”, with the Tories decimated by Reform, which came second in 98 seats and split the right-wing vote to devastating effect. 

One of the most distorted elections in history, there will undoubtedly be renewed attention on Britain’s first-past-the-post system, which has rewarded not just Labour with an extra 200 seats but also the Liberal Democrats with a record-breaking extra 60 seats, despite its vote share remaining constant at 12%. Meanwhile, Reform won 14% of the vote, but only secured four seats because its vote is more evenly spread across the country.

Turnout is on course to be about 60% (the lowest since 2001 and the second-lowest for more than a century) in a clear indication of the general public dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. Farage finally has his “beachhead” in Westminster and the Liberal Democrats have effected a phoenix resurrection as a formidable third party. Will FPTP finally be turned to ash? 

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