UK election results 2019: Boris Johnson storms to victory

By Tara John, Rob Picheta, Bianca Britton and Sheena McKenzie, CNN

Updated 12:08 PM ET, Fri December 13, 2019
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6:04 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

This would be the largest Conservative majority since 1987

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waves outside 10 Downing Street in London on election day, June 11, 1987. The vote resulted in the third consecutive victory for Thatcher's Conservative Party. Photo: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waves outside 10 Downing Street in London on election day, June 11, 1987. The vote resulted in the third consecutive victory for Thatcher's Conservative Party. Photo: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This is the kind of majority David Cameron and Theresa May always craved but never reached. If the exit poll is correct, Boris Johnson is set to enjoy more power than any Conservative Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher.

The exit poll projects Johnson will win a majority of 86. That figure is arrived at by calculating the difference between the Conservatives' predicted 368 seats and all the opposition MPs combined, including the Speaker, who does not vote.

For Johnson, the prospect is a far cry from the dogged first months of his premiership -- which saw him losing his parliamentary majority within days of taking power. Then, he was in office but hardly in power. Now he joins Thatcher and Tony Blair as the only leaders in recent times to enjoy such a comfortable majority.

The consequences for Brexit are huge. Johnson should be able to pass whatever form of Brexit he pleases; he'll no longer have to appease the hardliners on the right of his own party, or the moderates and opposition MPs who favor remaining in the EU.

The prospect of a second referendum on Brexit, meanwhile, has virtually disappeared.

5:55 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

John McDonnell says "decisions will be made" on Corbyn's leadership

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, speaks at a press conference on December 9 in London. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, speaks at a press conference on December 9 in London. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has admitted the exit poll is "extremely disappointing" for his party.

"I think Brexit has dominated, it has dominated everything by the looks of it," he told the BBC. "We thought other issues could cut through and there would be a wider debate, from this evidence there clearly wasn't."

On the future of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the party, Mr McDonnell said: "Let's see the results themselves, as I say, the appropriate decisions will be made and we'll always make the decisions in the best interests of our party."

It would appear incredibly difficult for Corbyn to survive such a historic Labour defeat.

5:52 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The Scottish National Party appears set to sweep Scotland

First Minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon votes in Glasgow, Scotland on Thursday. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
First Minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon votes in Glasgow, Scotland on Thursday. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The Scottish National Party are set for a fantastic night, according to the exit poll.

They're projected to end up on 55 seats, one down from their historic result in 2015 but up 20 on the 2017 vote.

There are 59 constituencies in Scotland, so just four are projected to go to any party other than the SNP. But Conservative losses in Scotland are more than offset by their projected gains in England and Wales.

The SNP is playing down their prospects, though. A party spokesperson has told CNN they would be "surprised if we're much above 40 seats".

The spokesperson also underlined that it would be a “bittersweet victory" because of the projected Conservative majority.

5:45 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Boris Johnson thanks voters after exit poll projects huge win

Boris Johnson has reacted to the exit poll, thanking people who voted in the election.

In a statement following the exit poll, his Conservative Party said: “This is a projection, not a result, it’s important we wait to see the actual results when they come in. What we do know is that voters have rejected Labour’s fudge on Brexit. We needed this election because parliament was doing all it could to frustrate the will of the people. 

"A functioning majority would mean we can now finally end the uncertainty and get Brexit done. It would allow the country to come together and move forward by delivering the change people voted for in 2016. ”

5:54 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

UK election poll will bring sighs of relief in the White House

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the NATO heads of government summit on December 4, in Watford, England. Photo: Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the NATO heads of government summit on December 4, in Watford, England. Photo: Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The exit poll will have been greeted with relief in the White House – where eyes are cast across the Atlantic even amid Donald Trump’s impeachment fight.

That’s because the "special relationship" between the US and the UK as we know it was on the ballot today.

If Jeremy Corbyn had moved into 10 Downing Street on Friday, as now seems unlikely, he might have become the most America-skeptic Prime Minister in history.

Corbyn has reliably taken the opposite side to the US on many of the key issues of the last 40 years. He admired Fidel Castro’s Cuba, late Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez, preferred Hamas over Israel and went on Iranian TV to call the killing of Osama bin Laden a tragedy.

The Labour Party boss has also clashed heatedly with Trump and snubbed an invitation to a Buckingham Palace banquet in the President’s honor this year. He says Trump wants to expose the NHS to US pharmaceutical giants in a post-Brexit trade deal.

Trump is firmly in Boris Johnson’s camp. But often being Trump’s friend doesn’t count for much. The UK would badly need a trade deal with the US after Brexit but the master of the art of the deal will drive a hard bargain. Still, the special relationship — with its military, diplomatic and intelligence ties would likely look familiar under the stewardship of Trump and Johnson.

With Corbyn, all bets would have been off.

5:31 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Boris Johnson appears to have proved his critics wrong

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

Prime Minister Johnson is seen on the final day of campaigning on December 11 in Hengoed, South Wales. Photo: Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prime Minister Johnson is seen on the final day of campaigning on December 11 in Hengoed, South Wales. Photo: Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Boris Johnson staked his career on Brexit. If this exit poll turns out to be anywhere near correct, he's proved his critics wrong many times over.

When he first took over as leader of the Conservative Party this summer, the consensus was that a gridlocked Parliament made this election inevitable. Many believed that it would return another hung parliament and that the only way to break the Brexit deadlock was to hold a second referendum. That, it seems, won't be necessary. 

Johnson has defied the odds ever since becoming Prime Minister. He was told he couldn't get a new Brexit deal. He did. He was told Parliament would block his attempts to hold a general election. It didn't. And he was told that betting the house on "Getting Brexit Done" would divide the nation further. It hasn't. 

During the campaign he has been accused of lying, hiding from the media and treating both politicians and the public with contempt. He was criticized for running an unambitious, one-note campaign with a near-empty manifesto. 

Yet it seems to have worked. One of the Conservative Party's biggest concerns was winning a slim majority, meaning he would have to navigate mind-bending internal party politics when he came to deal with the future relationship with the European Union. 

But if this exit poll is correct, Johnson will be the most powerful Prime Minister since Tony Blair.

Johnson has talked a lot about getting Brexit done and uniting a divided nation with his one-nation, liberal Conservative agenda. It seems that the first part of that plan is in the bag. And, against the odds, there's very little standing in his way to do the rest.

5:47 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Labour says it's too early to call the result

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty at Labour Party headquarters

The BBC projects exit poll results in central London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images
The BBC projects exit poll results in central London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Labour have responded to the exit poll, saying: "It’s only the very beginning of the night, and it’s too early to call the result."

"We, of course, knew this was going to be a challenging election, with Brexit at the forefront of many people’s minds and our country increasingly polarized," their statement added.

"But Labour has changed the debate in British politics. We have put public ownership, a green industrial revolution, an end to austerity centre stage and introduced new ideas, such as plans for free broadband and free personal care. The Tories only offered more of the same."

5:24 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The pound jumps after exit poll predicts big Johnson win

Analysis from CNN Business' Julia Horowitz

The pound shot up after an exit poll by British broadcasters predicted that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would sweep to victory in the UK election.

Sterling jumped 2.1% to $1.34 at 5:05 p.m. ET. It also rose 1.7% against the euro.

The currency had been rising steadily in recent weeks as traders bet on a Johnson win. A solid majority in parliament would allow the Conservative leader to take the country out of the European Union by January 31 — removing some of the Brexit uncertainty that has hung over businesses and the economy for more than three years.

Read more here.

5:19 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The poll suggests a historic loss for Labour

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appears on the BBC's Breakfast from Bolton show in Bolton, England on December 10. Joe Giddens/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appears on the BBC's Breakfast from Bolton show in Bolton, England on December 10. Joe Giddens/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party has sunk to one of its worst ever election results, according to the exit poll. It would be the best result for the Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher's 1987 win.

The exit poll is based on a survey voters across 144 constituencies on election day, carried out jointly by the BBC, Sky News and ITV News. It featured 22,790 interviews.

Again, it is only a projection, and a lot can change before the night is up.