Saturday

20th Apr 2019

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.

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