UK Elections result put country in turmoil
Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party will fail to win a parliamentary majority in Britain's election, according to an exit poll on Thursday, a shock result that would plunge domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.
The exit poll predicted the Conservatives would win 314 seats in the 650-member parliament and the opposition Labour Party 266, meaning no clear winner and a "hung parliament".
The BBC reported that 76 seats appeared too close to call.
Until the final results become clear, it is hard to predict whether May has a chance of surviving as prime minister and who might end up leading the next government and steering Britain into divorce talks with the European Union.
"MAYHEM" screamed the headline in the tabloid Sun newspaper. "Britain on a knife edge," said the Daily Mail.
Sterling fell initially by more than two cents against the U.S. dollar as markets digested the prospect of extreme political uncertainty and even the risk of a second election this year, though the currency later recovered some ground.
The exit poll pointed to an extraordinary failure for May, who was enjoying opinion poll leads of 20 points and more when she called the snap election just seven weeks ago.
That margin shrank over the course of the campaign, during which she backtracked on a major social care proposal, opted not to debate her opponents on television and faced questions over her record on security after Britain was hit by two Islamist militant attacks that killed 30 people.
By contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who had initially been written off as a no-hoper, was widely deemed to have run a strong, policy-rich campaign that enthused many followers.
If the exit poll is correct, Corbyn could attempt to form a government with smaller parties which, like Labour, strongly oppose most of May's policies on domestic issues such as public spending cuts.