UK election: Britain goes to the polls

Updated 10:58 AM EDT, Thu June 8, 2017
02:38 - Source: CNN
The year that rocked British politics

Story highlights

Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time for some 46 million registered voters

A firm result is not expected until early Friday morning in Britain

(CNN) —  

After one of the most tumultuous years in British political history, polls have opened in the country’s general election.

Less than a year since Britain voted to leave the European Union and just 11 days before the start of negotiations over the terms of that departure begins, the snap election was called by British Prime Minister Theresa May with a focus on securing a mandate to take into Brexit talks.

But the divorce from Europe has faded into the background in recent weeks in the wake of the terror attacks which hit Manchester and London, with campaigning suspended in the aftermath of both events.

Instead, factors such as the economy, the National Health Service and security have become the main topics for discussion.

More than 46 million people are eligible to vote in what is the fourth major UK poll in three years, following the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2015 general election, and the 2016 Brexit vote (to say nothing of local elections in 2014, 2015 and 2017).

Polls close at 10 p.m. UK time (5 p.m. ET), with results expected to begin rolling in within an hour or so after voting finishes.

What about Brexit?

While both the Conservatives and Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, have committed to enacting Brexit, each party has a different vision for how the departure from the EU should happen.

A so-called “hard” Brexit would see the UK leave the EU’s single market, which guarantees the free movement of goods, services and people within the bloc.

A “soft” Brexit would still mean Britain leaves the EU, but the government would seek to retain access to the single market and allow some degree of free movement.

As well as their differences over how to implement Brexit, the two parties also have major disagreements on how to handle the rewriting of a great deal of British law currently set by EU regulations.

What happens?

Voters in all 650 constituencies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are choosing their local member of parliament (MP) from the more than 3,300 candidates running throughout the UK.

Conservative Party leader Theresa May and husband Philip  voted in Maidenhead, England.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Conservative Party leader Theresa May and husband Philip voted in Maidenhead, England.