Thursday June 8, 2017
Welcome to TOPLive. We'll be covering the outcome of the U.K. general election, kicking off shortly before the polls close at 10:00 p.m. local time. Join us for news, analysis and market reaction.
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Welcome to TOPLive. I'm Robert Hutton, and I cover British politics for Bloomberg. Along with government editor Eddie Buckle, I'll be taking you through the next six hours or so, as we find out whether Theresa May's surprise election call has paid off.
Just over a quarter of an hour, then, until voting ends after one of the most topsy-turvy campaigns the U.K. has experienced. Britons are picking 650 members of the new House of Commons in 650 districts across the country. It's a simple system: Whoever takes the most votes in each district is the winner.
As the polls close, at the top of the hour, we'll get the first indication of the result. An exit poll for the BBC, ITV and Sky will give a prediction of the result. Last time around, in 2015, it correctly projected the Tories as the largest party -- confounding pre-vote expectations -- but underestimated the number of seats they would win -- and the fact they'd get a parliamentary majority.
"What's an exit poll, and why is it better?" I hear you ask. I wrote all about it...
As for the real results, they'll start to come in overnight, first in a trickle, and then a rush, with the flood tide due in about six hours. Many seats never change hands, so we'll be concentrating on about 100 races that will provide the key to the final outcome.
Some key numbers to focus on: The Tories, then led by David Cameron, won 331 seats in the 2015 election and had 330 when Theresa May called the snap election. Labour won 232 seats last time and had 229 lawmakers before the election. May had a 17-seat overall majority.
Yes, Eddie, 17 overall, but on a technical note, tonight when we talk about May's majority, we're going to use the strict definition -- how many more seats she has than all the other parties combined. On this measure, May's majority was 10 before she called the election. (It's because some members of Parliament don't vote, for various reasons, that her working majority was actually 17.)
May caught just about everyone on the hop when she announced this election seven weeks ago. At the time, her Conservative Party was polling at twice the level of the opposition Labour Party. And while the prime minister insisted this wasn't the reason for calling the vote, it wasn't hard to see the appeal of going from a parliamentary majority of 10 to one forecast to be up to 200.
Theresa May and her husband Philip leave a polling station in Sonning after voting earlier today.
For the first few weeks, things seemed to be going well for the prime minister. Labour candidates were distancing themselves from their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Then May announced her policy proposals. Wealthy elderly people learned they were going to be paying a lot more for certain types of care. Dubbed the "dementia tax" by opponents, it was so unpopular May dumped it within four days. She continues to insist she hasn't changed course (she has).
Since then, opinion polls published before election day all agreed Labour's vote share was edging up. Corbyn has proved an effective campaigner, and the party has offered plenty to attract voters.
Jeremy Corbyn poses for photographers earlier after casting his vote in London.
The campaign has been scarred by two terrorist attacks: One at a pop concert in Manchester three weeks ago, and another at London Bridge this past weekend. It's unclear what effect these will have on voters, but they did interrupt campaigning and gave May a chance to get onto her specialist subject: Security.
Before the attacks the focus was on Brexit, and the pressure of the campaign has told us a few things about how the current prime minister might handle the negotiations.
So what are the possible outcomes? My colleagues Thomas Penny and Svenja O'Donnell lay them out here:
Around the country, schools, pubs and even fire stations are being used as polling places. In this photo, voters turn up at a mobile home in Halton East in the Yorkshire Dales.
Sterling will be the best barometer for assessing how the markets perceive the results. However, unless it looks like a major shock don't expect the pound to break out of its post-referendum range versus the dollar.
The bond market looks overpriced almost regardless of the result. More supply is coming, as all the main parties have raised spending plans, for which bonds will take the strain. Equally, the Bank of England has stopped supporting gilts in its stimulus program. Any flight to quality may prove fleeting once the reality of Brexit and bigger government spending set in.
For equities, read how our stocks team has been handicapping the potential impact on industries from two possible outcomes.
Here's a look at recent participation in U.K. elections and referendums.
While the polls officially close at 10 p.m., you can still vote if you're standing in line outside a polling station waiting to get in at that time. So a very last chance to influence the result for a few people....
In advance of the exit poll, here's a look at the movement in ICM's poll over the course of the campaign, before today.
Big Ben counts the minutes as we approach 10:00 p.m. and when the exit poll comes out. This shot from minutes ago...
Blimey. If that poll is right, then Theresa May should start packing.
It's not even clear if the Tories could continue governing with that result.
CORRECT: (Corrects number of seats) This is a disastrous result for the prime minister. More than 10 seats short of a majority.
The pound tanks after the exit poll, dropping more than 1 percent.
The Conservatives could just about possibly hang on in government, with the support of Northern Irish parties, but May would have no mandate from the electorate, and her Conservative Party would be likely to throw her overboard.
Now, a caveat: The Tory score here is very close to what the exit poll had for the party in 2015. Over the course of the night, the Conservatives then edged over the line, giving David Cameron a slim majority.
Looking across foreign-exchange markets, the exit poll is giving a risk-off tone as trading starts in Asia. The pound has extended its tumble to as much as 1.9%. The yen is the only real gainer, up 0.1%, while the Aussie, New Zealand and Canadian dollars are all weaker.