Exit poll: Conservatives win biggest share in British election, but may not have majority

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LONDON (AP) – The Latest on Britain’s parliamentary election (all times local):

10:00 p.m.

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An exit poll projects that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party will win the biggest share of seats in Britain’s election but could fall short of a majority in Parliament.

The survey predicts the Conservatives will get 314 seats and the Labour Party 266.

It projects 34 for the Scottish National Party and 14 for the Liberal Democrats.

Based on interviews with voters leaving polling stations across the country, the poll is conducted for a consortium of U.K. broadcasters and regarded as a reliable, though not exact, indicator of the likely result.

If confirmed the result will be a disaster for May, who called a snap election in the hope of increasing her majority.

Polling stations across Britain closed at 10 p.m. (2100GMT) and ballots are being counted, with results due early Friday.

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8:40 p.m.

Amid intermittent rain across the country, Britons have been voting in an election in which security has dominated the final days of the campaign.

Experts say Thursday’s blustery weather will likely not keep participation down. A high voter turnout was seen as the best hope of the Labour Party to erode the Conservative majority.

The London Bridge attack and the Manchester concert bombing brought security to the forefront. One woman who voted near the site of Saturday’s attack in London said the Brexit vote is not what’s in “the hearts and minds of Londoners.”

But the terror threat was far from the only issue. One voter, 68-year-old Mike Peacroft, said that at his age, he’s interested in pensions and health care.

Voters are choosing all 650 members of the House of Commons after Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election, three years ahead of schedule, at a time when her party was well ahead in the polls.

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3:45 p.m.

Police have briefly closed off an area of London near Charing Cross station after a suspicious package was found.

The Metropolitan Police said Thursday the incident was not related to terrorism. The package turned out not to be a threat.

There have been increased security patrols throughout London since the attack on London Bridge Saturday night, and security has been stepped up in the runup to the election.

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2 p.m.

So what is Elmo doing at Prime Minister Theresa May’s polling station?

The country’s leader was photobombed by a person dressed as the Sesame Street character as she cast her ballot with her husband Philip on the outskirts of Maidenhead, her constituency.

The Elmo costume was worn by the mother of Bobby Smith, a fathers’ rights protester, who has used the character to highlight his custody dispute.

Smith, 34, a truck driver, adopted the character as the figurehead of his campaign because by combining the first two letters of his two daughters’ first names he could spell Elmo.

His case was featured on the website of the campaigning group, Fathers4Justice.

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10:15 a.m.

Many voters are thinking about security as they cast ballots in Britain’s general election just days after three extremists killed eight people at London Bridge and nearby Borough Market.

Polls opened nationwide at 7 a.m. to select lawmakers for the House of Commons. The vote was supposed to be dominated by Britain’s pending departure from the European Union, but voters are anxiously aware of the threat the country faces from international terrorism following attacks in London and Manchester.

Voter Rachel Sheard, who cast her ballot at a polling station in Borough High Street, says that while the EU was supposed to be at center stage, “I don’t think that’s in the hearts and minds of Londoners at the minute, (not) nearly as much as the security is.”

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7 a.m.

Polling stations have opened across Britain in an election to choose a new government.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (0600GMT to 2100GMT) Thursday as voters choose 650 lawmakers for the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in hopes of increasing the Conservative Party’s slim majority in Parliament, and strengthening her hand in European Union exit talks.

The campaign did not go to plan. May was criticized for lackluster campaigning and two deadly attacks turned the election into a debate about national security.

May says the Conservatives will build a “stronger, fairer and more prosperous Britain,” while opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he would govern “for the many, not the few.”

Polls suggest Labour has narrowed the Conservatives’ lead.

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