24th Mar 2018

UK election under way, as voters eye Brexit

  • Polling stations close at 10pm in the UK on Thursday (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

British voters head to the polls on Thursday (8 June) in a general election in which Conservative prime minister Theresa May hopes to widen her majority in parliament over opposition Labour.

About 46.9 million people are registered to vote for the 650 MPs in Westminster in the first election since the Brexit referendum last year.

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  • Kilburn Labour supporters' posters were pushing the party's messages on the streets on election day (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Earlier on Thursday, May cast her ballot in Sonning, Berkshire, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn cast his vote at a school in Holloway, north London.

Opinion polls showed the Conservatives’ lead narrowing in the last weeks over Labour, but May’s Tories are still expected to win.

May is hoping to take over some of the almost 4 million voters who backed the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party (Ukip) in 2015.

Ukip has decided to run candidates in only 377 out of 650 seats, and has not put up candidates in 29 so-called marginal seats, which could go either major party's way.

This could mean the Conservatives would be able to gain seats in previous Labour bastions of working-class neighbourhoods and marginal seats.

One of those marginal seats is Hampstead and Kilburn in north London, where Tulip Siddiq, a Labour MP is running.

Defying the Labour’s party line, she was one of the 47 Labour lawmakers who in February voted against the Article 50 bill, a legislation allowing the prime minister to trigger the exit procedure from the EU.

In Kilburn, Labour volunteers were out campaigning until the very last moment also on Thursday.

“Brexit is a disaster. It is bad for the education, the economy, our foreign policy, and it turns the UK into a small island and that’s tragic,” Deborah, a voter who did not want to give her full name, said.

“May left it completely vague, how she wants to handle Brexit. I don’t trust May on Brexit,” she told EUobserver, adding that she wants assurances that EU workers’ rights, environmental standards would be kept after withdrawal.

In Hampstead, voters trickled into the polling stations under the cover of drizzling rain.

“I voted Tory, because I don’t trust Labour at all, on anything,” said Susan, who also preferred not to share her full name.

When asked what sort of Brexit outcome she would prefer, she said: “It’s too complicated, I trust May with the Brexit negotiations”.

The results of the general election will start to come in after 11PM Brussels time.

May's election win would still mean hard Brexit

A confident majority for Conservative prime minister Theresa May in Thursday's general election could help Brexit talks, but it will not spare the UK and the EU a hard Brexit.

May promises hard Brexit in Tory manifesto

In her party's platform ahead of the 8 June elections, the British prime minister has asked voters to let her negotiate Brexit without guaranteeing a final deal.

British techies make game to reach young voters

A goofy game invoked the ghost of Margaret Thatcher to rally young Labour supporters. Newspeak House, a community of politically active techies, also builds more serious tools to keep democracy transparent.

May's Tories fail to secure majority

[Updated] British elections produce a hung parliament, with Conservatives failing to secure majority, while still being the largest party in the House of Commons.

EU: 'Keep Calm', as Italy struggles to form government

Both the leaders of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League party claim the position of Italian prime minister, amid renewed eurosceptics remarks while Europe is waiting for a stable government.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.

Far-right parties re-register to access EU funds

After missing a funding deadline, the far-right nationalist Alliance for Peace and Freedom and the Alliance of European National Movements are back in the game and possibly eligible for EU money in 2019.

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