Bobby Smith, a political and fathers' rights activist and founder and leader of the 'Give Me Back Elmo' party, left, and Independent candidate Count Binface stand either side of Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson wait for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency count declaration at Brunel University in Uxbridge, London, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Bobby Smith, a political and fathers' rights activist and founder and leader of the 'Give Me Back Elmo' party, left, and Independent candidate Count Binface stand either side of Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson wait for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency count declaration at Brunel University in Uxbridge, London, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Now playing
02:51
Boris Johnson's Conservative Party wins UK election
On March 23, the UK marked one year since its first lockdown. Britons marked the occasion with a moment of silence: A small step in coming to grips with the unimaginable loss, and change to all of our lives.
CNN
On March 23, the UK marked one year since its first lockdown. Britons marked the occasion with a moment of silence: A small step in coming to grips with the unimaginable loss, and change to all of our lives.
Now playing
03:30
See how the UK marked a year since its first lockdown
Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his speech to Parliament, in in the House of Commons, London, about setting out the road map for easing coronavirus restrictions across England. Picture date: Monday February 22, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his speech to Parliament, in in the House of Commons, London, about setting out the road map for easing coronavirus restrictions across England. Picture date: Monday February 22, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:09
Here's what we know about England's reopening plans
screengrab boris johnson covid-19 presser
CNN
screengrab boris johnson covid-19 presser
Now playing
03:55
Boris Johnson's credibility under fire as UK hits 100,000 Covid-19 deaths
It's been a tumultuous year for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He was slow to implement a coronavirus lockdown in the UK, slow on PPE and slow on contact tracing. Meanwhile he struck a last-minute Brexit deal with the EU, Scotland's drive for independence is gaining momentum, and Johnson's personal life is adding more drama. CNN's Nic Robertson looks back at it all.
CNN
It's been a tumultuous year for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He was slow to implement a coronavirus lockdown in the UK, slow on PPE and slow on contact tracing. Meanwhile he struck a last-minute Brexit deal with the EU, Scotland's drive for independence is gaining momentum, and Johnson's personal life is adding more drama. CNN's Nic Robertson looks back at it all.
Now playing
03:30
A look back at Boris Johnson's tumultuous 2020
Boris Johnson announces a Brexit deal has been agreed with the European Union
UK Pool
Boris Johnson announces a Brexit deal has been agreed with the European Union
Now playing
01:45
Boris Johnson: We have completed the biggest trade deal yet
A man wearing an EU flag-themed beret and carrying an EU flag is seen on Whitehall in central London on December 11, 2020. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 10 vowed to go the "extra mile" for a Brexit trade deal but instructed his government to prepare for Britain to crash out of the European Union's single market at the end of this year. (Photo by Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images)
Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images
A man wearing an EU flag-themed beret and carrying an EU flag is seen on Whitehall in central London on December 11, 2020. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 10 vowed to go the "extra mile" for a Brexit trade deal but instructed his government to prepare for Britain to crash out of the European Union's single market at the end of this year. (Photo by Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
05:57
Look back at how Brexit unfolded
Travellers wait for trains on the concourse at King's Cross station in central London, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Millions of people in England have learned they must cancel their Christmas get-togethers and holiday shopping trips. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that holiday gatherings can't go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England.
Victoria Jones/PA/AP
Travellers wait for trains on the concourse at King's Cross station in central London, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Millions of people in England have learned they must cancel their Christmas get-togethers and holiday shopping trips. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that holiday gatherings can't go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England.
Now playing
02:49
Dozens of countries shut down their borders to travel as coronavirus cases surge
Video Thumbnail from Anna Stewart package about queues at Dover
CNN
Video Thumbnail from Anna Stewart package about queues at Dover
Now playing
03:09
No-deal Brexit looms as truck drivers queue for hours at port
Reuters
Now playing
01:57
UK and EU officials warn a no-deal Brexit is likely
Now playing
15:43
Sturgeon worries UK PM Johnson 'planning' on no-deal
screengrab fishing brexit vessle
CNN
screengrab fishing brexit vessle
Now playing
03:01
This is one of the biggest hurdles to a Brexit deal
A picture taken on January 30, 2020 shows a Union Jack during a protest against Brexit near the European Parliament in Brussels. - Britain's departure from the European Union was set in law on January 29, amid emotional scenes, as the bloc's parliament voted to ratify the divorce papers. After half a century of sometimes awkward membership and three years of tense withdrawal talks, the UK will leave the EU at midnight Brussels time (2300 GMT) on January 31, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on January 30, 2020 shows a Union Jack during a protest against Brexit near the European Parliament in Brussels. - Britain's departure from the European Union was set in law on January 29, amid emotional scenes, as the bloc's parliament voted to ratify the divorce papers. After half a century of sometimes awkward membership and three years of tense withdrawal talks, the UK will leave the EU at midnight Brussels time (2300 GMT) on January 31, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:18
What could happen after EU launched legal action against UK
ireland brexit good friday agreement joe biden UK Robertson pkg intl ldn vpx_00000119.jpg
CNN
ireland brexit good friday agreement joe biden UK Robertson pkg intl ldn vpx_00000119.jpg
Now playing
02:53
Why this Irish town is supporting Joe Biden
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street on September 2, 2020, to attend Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons in central London for the first time since the summer recess. - The UK Parliament returned to work on September 1 with the governing Conservative Party having taking a summer of hits in the polls bringing them level with the main opposition Labour Party amid a series of embarrassing U-turns and economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street on September 2, 2020, to attend Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons in central London for the first time since the summer recess. - The UK Parliament returned to work on September 1 with the governing Conservative Party having taking a summer of hits in the polls bringing them level with the main opposition Labour Party amid a series of embarrassing U-turns and economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
17:09
Fmr. negotiator: UK decision risks 'violence in N. Ireland'
AFP
Now playing
01:03
Boris Johnson: Signs of a second coronavirus wave in Europe
(CNN) —  

Boris Johnson’s election gamble appears to have paid off.

An exit poll and series of stunning results suggested his Conservative Party was on course to secure a large majority in the House of Commons, putting Brexit firmly back on track and sending the opposition Labour party into a tailspin.

The exit poll, conducted for the UK’s main broadcasters, predicted the Conservatives would win 368 seats, well ahead of Labour’s 191. The Scottish National Party was projected to win 55 seats, with the Liberal Democrats on 13.

Reacting to the exit polls, Johnson thanked the Conservative Party’s voters, candidates and volunteers. “We live in the greatest democracy in the world,” he tweeted.

LIVE UPDATES: See the results as they come in

As official results fell broadly in line with the early projections, the Conservatives were heading for their best result since Margaret Thatcher’s win in 1987 – and the worst Labour result in more than 80 years. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said he would stand down, after a period of “reflection.”

Divisive election campaign

The results mean that Johnson will find it easy to pass his Brexit deal through Parliament and to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union – more than three years after the country voted to leave the bloc.

In Europe, there was a cautious welcome to the the results. France’s European affairs minister Amelie de Montchalin said France had been asking for clarity on Brexit for a long time. “This result brings that,” she said.

The result came after divisive election campaign was plagued by disinformation and which left many voters feeling frustrated. And while Brexit was the key topic, domestic politics regularly dominated the headlines.

Earlier this week, a photograph of a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia, forced to lie on a hospital emergency room floor as he waited for a bed, steered the conversation to the cash-strapped National Health Service.

The UK’s relationship with the United States, and a future trade deal between the two, climate change and public spending also played into the debate.

Pledge to ‘Get Brexit Done’

Johnson, who only entered Downing Street in July, promised to deliver Brexit by the end of January and then immediately start negotiating a new trade agreement with the European Union.

He is hoping to secure a deal by the end of 2020, before the end of the so-called transition period during which the UK will be formally out of the bloc but still subject to all its rules and regulations. The transition period is designed to prevent a hard landing.

For full results as they come in, click here.

If Johnson can’t secure a deal by the end of next year, he would likely need to ask the EU for an extension to the transition period. Crashing out without a trade agreement would be hugely damaging for the UK economy.

On Wednesday CNN obtained a leaked recording of Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, stating that Johnson’s chances of getting a deal before 2021 were “improbable.”

Johnson’s message to “Get Brexit Done” was at the heart of his campaign and in stark contrast to that of Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Corbyn remained vaguer on his Brexit plans and focused his campaign on increased public spending and radical economic reforms. He pledged to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and then put the new deal to voters with a remain option also on the polling card.

But Corbyn’s socialist manifesto, which included a plan to nationalize key utilities including energy infrastructure, railways and broadband, appeared to scare off some voters. Combined with the party’s cloudy Brexit plan, the campaign resulted in what looks set to be the party’s worst election result since 1935.

Outspoken Labour figure Jess Phillips said the anticipated big Conservative victory “feels like a punch in the stomach.”

She tweeted: “We will all be thinking of the harm that can be done to those we care for. I understand, I feel pain, take that anger you feel and know it has to be fuel. Maybe not tonight but tomorrow.”

Speaking to ITV News later in the night, Phillips hinted that she may stand in a future leadership election to replace Corbyn. “If people trust me then yes, I will take a role in rebuilding,” she said.

Future of the union in question

The result, if confirmed, will put a question mark over Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom, since the SNP’s key aim is Scottish independence.

The exit poll suggests the SNP has gained 20 more seats compared to the 2017 election, winning in almost all Scottish constituencies.

Scotland voted to stay in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit Referendum, and the SNP has consistently argued the country is “being dragged out” of the EU against its will.

While Johnson has pledged to stop a second Scottish independence referendum, the SNP will likely feel emboldened by their election result.

Simon Hix, a professor of political science at the London School of Economics said the exit polls suggested “a mandate for Johnson and Brexit in England, and a mandate for Scottish independence in Scotland.”

Conservative rebels ousted

The general election, Britain’s third in just four years, was not due to have been held until 2022, but Johnson was forced to call one early after suffering a series of key defeats in Parliament in the fall. Unable to find enough support for his Brexit strategy, the Prime Minister first rid his party of rebels opposing hard Brexit and then called the snap vote.

The Prime Minister was initially under threat of losing votes to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. However, midway through the campaign, Farage announced his party would not contest Conservative-held seats, which increased Johnson’s chances of a victory. Farage explained the move as an attempt to avoid a split in the Brexit vote.

Even with that boost, it wasn’t plain sailing for Johnson. One opinion poll published late Tuesday showed his predicted majority shrinking to just 28 seats, from 68 two weeks earlier.

But Johnson appears to have proved the polls wrong.

The former London Mayor is known for his grandiose and at times clownish demeanor, messy haircut and fondness for Latin phrases.

His personal life is best described as “complicated.” He moved into the PM’s official residence in Downing Street with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who is more than two decades younger than him. At the time, Johnson’s divorce from his wife of 26 years, Marina Wheeler – with whom he has four children – had not been finalized.

During the campaign, Johnson kept his contact with the public to a minimum, refused to be interviewed by a tenacious TV interviewer, and declined to participate in a leaders’ debate on climate change. Earlier this week, he hid in a fridge to avoid a reporter.

In the end, that strategy appeared to have worked. His next challenge is whether or not he can keep his party together as he finally delivers the Brexit so many of them voted for – and have been arguing about ever since.