The most turbulent of decades in British politics has reached its pinnacle, in the form of the 2019 General Election.
The country’s fourth election of the 2010s came to a conclusion in the early hours of Friday, as the Conservatives secured the majority they were vying for. Boris Johnson’s party cleared the threshold of 326 seats needed just after five o’ clock in the morning, achieving exactly what he set out to do.
There is so much to reflect on and analyse from the most important election in generations, with a number of key moments throughout the evening that defined the course of the results and the future of the country. From momentous victories to embarrassing defeats, this election had it all.
22:00 GMT – Exit poll
The Conservatives were in front in every single poll building up to Election Day, and were set to do so in the final exit poll. The prediction was announced at ten o’ clock, and while the order of the parties were as expected, the range of seats won was shocking for many.
The poll had the Tories with a sound majority of 368 seats, putting them in clear control of the country. What was most astonishing however was the estimated figure for the Labour Party, who were predicted to achieve just 191 seats – 177 seats short of the Conservatives.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party were estimated to have their worst election tally in 84 years, when Clement Attlee won just 154 seats in the 1935 election. The exit poll was Labour’s first and most costly blow of the night, while filling the Conservatives with great confidence and belief that they had achieved their main election target.
23:32 GMT – Blyth Valley shock
One of the biggest moments of the night came within the first few results, in the form of Blyth Valley in the north of England. Conservative candidate Ian Levy recorded a shock victory with over 17,000 votes, beating Labour’s Susan Dungworth with a slim majority of 712.
The seat was a monumental gain for the Conservatives, who snatched it off Labour for the first time since 1950, when the constituency was created. Blyth Valley used to be a prominent mining district, which struggled under the leadership of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The Tories’ triumph in a Labour seat of almost 70 years would turn out to be the story of the evening, as they seized dozens upon dozens of seats from Corbyn’s party. Blyth Valley was one of the biggest shocks of the night, but the Conservatives were just getting started.
03:18 GMT – Jeremy Corbyn humiliated
The early morning saw few results come in, before a huge surge after two o’ clock as the Conservative-Labour gap started to become reality. By the time Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as MP in Islington North by a landslide, Labour were already firmly heading towards a devastating defeat.
Corbyn’s acceptance speech focused more on Labour’s defeat than his personal victory, showing his despair at the sight of all their lost seats. The 70 year-old announced that he will not be Labour leader at the next General Election, which is currently set for 2024.
It was the first stage of Corbyn’s inevitable resignation, with the leader ultimately admitting that he will step down after “a period of reflection”. This has been the most damaging blow to Labour in decades, as their fourth consecutive election defeat proved to be the most painful one.
03:44 GMT – Jo Swinson defeated
It seems a given for the party leaders to regain their seats with relative ease: Johnson and Corbyn both managed to do so, but Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson couldn’t follow suit. Swinson fell embarrassingly short, losing her seat in Dunbartonshire East in central Scotland.
The Lib Dem leader’s 19,500 votes wasn’t enough for the majority, as she was just 149 votes short of Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate Amy Callaghan. It brings an abrupt and demeaning end to her reign as leader, having only taken over in July from the outgoing Vince Cable.
Swinson has since resigned as Lib Dem leader having lost her seat in Parliament, in the party’s most notable moment of the election. She never seemed up for the job of Prime Minister, and Friday morning marked the end of the road of Swinson’s short-lived tenure.
05:05 GMT – Conservatives seal victory
Finally, the result predicted from the moment Johnson called the election in late October came true. At five minutes past five in the morning, BBC News presenter Huw Edwards confirmed that the Conservatives had passed the 326-seat threshold and had won the 2019 General Election.
Seven hours after the polls closed and after a long, gruelling night, Johnson was successful in what he set out to do. Boris took the necessary gamble to gain a working majority in Parliament, and got exactly that in his finest hour as Prime Minister.
The 2019 General Election will surely go down as one of the most crucial, historic, revolutionary moments in British politics, and has certainly lived up to its billing. The Conservatives have earned a statement win and reaffirmed their power grasp of the country, as Johnson was handed the keys to 10 Downing Street for the next five years.