The Tories won in a landslide victory as Labour lost long-held seats, the SNP dominated in Scotland, and the DUP suffered losses in Northern Ireland
This morning the UK has woken up in a nightmare. As the exit polls emerged at 10pm last night, Labour supporters across the country couldn’t believe what they were seeing – the strongest Conservative majority in over 30 years.
After gaining 36 seats in the 2017 general election, Labour lost 42 seats last night, including in constituencies which have been under the party’s leadership for decades. Brexit overshadowed this election, with Leave voters in the north of England defecting to the Tories in protest against Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a second referendum.
As we all try to wrap our heads around what’s just happened – and suss out which of our colleagues are secret Tories – here’s six of the key moments from last night’s general election results.
JEREMY CORBYN RESIGNED
After holding his seat in Islington North with a majority of 26,188, Corbyn announced that he would be standing down as the leader of the Labour Party. “I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign,” he told a small crowd in London. “I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result, and on the policies that the party will take going forward, and I will lead the party during that period.” Before announcing his resignation, Corbyn criticised the media’s “intrusion on people’s lives”, and the attacks targeted at politicians and their families, as well as the press treatment of the Labour Party in general throughout this election campaign (cough cough BBC impartiality). He also praised his party’s manifesto, describing it as one of “hope” and “unity” that would “help to right the wrongs, injustices, and inequalities that exist in this country”.
The leader discussed Labour’s losses, calling it a “disappointing night” and addressed the impact Brexit had on the results. “It has overridden so much of a normal political debate,” Corbyn said of the EU referendum, “and I recognise that has contributed to the result that the Labour party has received this evening. The issues of social justice, and the needs of people will not go away just because Brexit is dealt with in the way in which Boris Johnson presumably plans to deal with it at the moment. All those issues will come back centre stage in the debate.”
JO SWINSON LOST HER SEAT
In one of the only silver linings of last night’s disastrous results, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP. There were raucous cheers from the crowd as the results revealed Swinson had lost by 149 votes, with video footage from Glasgow showing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon hilariously celebrating her party’s victory. Swinson immediately stepped down as leader of the Lib Dems after her personal loss, and a humiliating night which left her party with only 11 seats. Speaking after the results, Swinson said: “Some will be celebrating the wave of nationalism that is sweeping on both sides of the border, but let me say now: for millions of people in our country, these results will bring dread and dismay, and people are looking for hope.”
The Lib Dems lost 10 seats at last night’s election, with MPs who recently defected to the party from others also suffering embarrassment. Ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna – who launched failed party Change UK (remember that cursed Nandos pic?) before targeting the remain-voting, Tory-held constituency of Cities of London and Westminster as a Lib Dem – lost out to the Conservatives after splitting the Remain vote between his wet party and Labour, who otherwise could have taken the seat from the Tories. Ex-Conservative Sarah Wollaston also lost to the Tories in Totnes, while Luciana Berger – who quit the Labour party amid anti-Semitism rows in February – lost in Finchley and Golders Green.
THE TORIES TOOK KENSINGTON
The Lib Dems also fucked things up in Kensington, where the Tories took the seat from Labour after the Remain vote was split. As the Lib Dem results were read out, cries of “shame” came from the crowd, acknowledging the party’s responsibility for Labour’s 150-vote loss. The affluent London constituency was gained by Labour for the first time ever in 2017 following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, but was snatched back after tactical voting websites recommended people vote for the Lib Dems, despite the party coming a distant third in the last election.
Despite a fervent grassroots campaign in Chingford and Woodford Green for progressive Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen, Ian Duncan Smith held his seat. Nevertheless, it was a tight one, with a majority of just 1,062 that will definitely have shook IDS. Uxbridge and South Ruislip’s Labour candidate Ali Milani went valiantly up against Boris Johnson, but lost out. Both of these grassroots campaigns saw Labour activists come out to constituency streets in their droves, mobilising in ways that are at least heartening for the future.
In more positive marginal news, Tory Brexiteer and former Mayor of London candidate Zac Goldsmith was unseated in Richmond Park by the Lib Dems for the second time in three years, this time losing by 7,766 votes. While Labour strengthened its grip on London, taking Putney from the Tories after activists heavily targeted the area during canvassing.
LABOUR’S RED WALL CAME DOWN
One of the first results to be announced last night set the precedent for the devastation that followed: former mining constituency Blyth Valley was taken by the Tories – a Labour seat since 1950 – with the candidate beating his Labour rival by 712 votes. This marked the beginning of the fall of Labour’s famous ‘red wall’ across the Midlands and the north of England, which shockingly turned blue for the first time in generations. 24 heartland seats were lost to the Tories, including ex-mining communities like Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield, Workington – a seat held by Labour since it was created in 1918 (excluding a two-year Tory rule following a 1976 by-election) – and Bishop Auckland. The Conservatives also took Leigh, which has been held by Labour for almost 100 years, and ousted former miner Dennis Skinner, who held the Bolsover seat for 49 years and was set to become Father of the House (the longest serving member of the Commons) after this election.
While many blamed Corbyn for the destruction of the red wall, Brexit has undoubtedly had an impact on swaying northern voters, who largely backed Leave in the 2016 referendum. Labour chairman Ian Lavery, who held his seat in Wansbeck, said Leave voters are “very angry at the fact that we’re still not out of the EU after three and a half years”, adding that they “do blame the failure of the negotiations of the Tory party, but they believe that the Labour party is a Remain party”. The question remains whether the red wall will return once Brexit has been “done”.
IT WAS A GOOD NIGHT FOR THE SNP, AND A SEA CHANGE WAS FELT IN NORTHERN IRELAND
It was a dramatic result for Scotland with a landslide SNP victory – the party took 47 Scottish seats, up from 11 in 2017. The Tories suffered in Scotland, losing seven seats, and Labour held only one. While the unseating of Jo Swinson by 27-year-old SNP bright young star Amy Callaghan was the night’s standout event, the major takeaway is that the country-wide vote emboldens a second independence referendum. The SNP’s campaign was buoyed by promises for a referendum, and a promise to fight for remaining in the EU. Their triumph sets the stage for Sturgeon pressing on with asking Westminster for another indy ref before Christmas.
Northern Ireland experienced some seismic change – namely, DUP’s deputy and Westminster leader Nigel Dodds lost his seat in North Belfast to Sinn Féin’s John Finucane, and DUP candidate Emma Little-Pengelly lost out to the SDLP’s Claire Hanna in South Belfast, bringing the party down to eight seats overall. It’s emblematic of a pretty dire election run for the party that propped up Theresa May’s Tory government in 2017. The DUP loss reflects the first time that Nationalist parties have outnumbered Unionists in taking seats. There’s also a majority pro-Remain parties – with Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Alliance winning – now that the pro-Brexit DUP have been beaten back, reflective of a country that voted overwhelmingly in the 2016 referendum to remain in the EU. It looks like Northern Irish voters are tired of the fact that NI’s devolved government, Stormont, has not sat in over 1,000 days, and are using the ballot box to express that. The question of a united Ireland in our lifetime is orbiting.
STORMZY ACKNOWLEDGED IT’S A ‘DARK DAY FOR MINORITIES’
As well as releasing his second album, Heavy Is The Head, today – a much-needed gift on this sad day – Stormzy retweeted a message from journalist Mehdi Hasan, calling today a “dark day for minorities in the UK”. The tweet continued: “Especially for British Muslims who watched as a man who said ‘Islam was the problem’, mocked veiled Muslim women, and also turned a blind eye to massive anti-Muslim hatred in his party, was just given a landslide majority by their fellow Britons.”
The rapper has been vocal about his support for Corbyn and the Labour Party throughout this election, just yesterday sharing a video in which he urged his fans to go out and vote. “Man’s never voted,” he said, “man’s always looked at politicians and thought, ‘I don’t trust you lot’, but for the first time in my 26 years of life, there’s a man who man trusts. For me, it’s very clear cut: Jeremy Corbyn is a man of hope, a man of justice, a man of equality. The other guys are fucking pricks.”