10.25am BST

The German and Belgian leaders of the Greens in the European parliament, Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts, described the prospect of the UK quitting the EU as “hara-kiri”.

“The UK is sleepwalking its way out of the EU,” they said. “This would have dramatic and negative consequences for the UK and its component nations, as well as for the rest of Europe. We can only hope David Cameron finally wakes up to this risk.”

10.24am BST

Today has seen a record number of women elected as MPs: 182 so far. In 2010, it was 148. There are still 18 seats left to declare, but the current number would make up 28% of the total 650 MPs at Westminster.

10.09am BST

With the imminent resignation of Ed Miliband as Labour leader, Guardian columnist Rafael Behr asks: what happens next?

The great danger for Labour now is that, along with the failure of Miliband’s theoretical compromise position will die the brittle harmony he managed to negotiate in the party. Even before a leadership contest is called, a battle is getting under way to apportion blame for the defeat.

The left will want to pin responsibility on the residual habits of ‘Blairism’, while New Labour loyalists will cite an ill-judged lapse into a business-bashing left ‘comfort zone’.

The SNP positioned themselves as a more authentic ‘progressive’ proposition than ‘red Tory’ Labour. When Mhairi Black, the 20-year-old student who unseated Douglas Alexander, made her victory speech, she denounced austerity, the bedroom tax and Trident. There are many on the Labour left who will hear that kind of language as proof that Miliband vacated orthodox socialist positions and paid a price for it in an epic Caledonian collapse.

Yet in vital marginal seats in England, Labour’s swing barely registered. In many constituencies that were high on the party’s target list, Conservative majorities increased – Swindon, North Warwickshire, Hastings. For that to have happened, voters must have had profound reservations about Miliband’s capability to run the economy: doubts that will have long pre-dated the short campaign.

10.03am BST

Finally, after much delay, the contenders are gathering at the count in South Thanet. Might we be about to find out if Nigel Farage is going to Westminster – or stepping down as Ukip leader?

10.01am BST

Alastair Campbell has blogged about Labour’s dark night. In a post headed “We got it wrong”, he writes:

Perhaps one of the reasons we are in this position is because we took so long to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown lost in 2010 that we allowed the Tories to frame the politics surrounding the economy for the entire parliament, and we did not rebut their attacks on our overall record with sufficient clarity or vigour …

But whereas I thought we took too long to elect a leader last time, perhaps the debate about the party’s future this time should be even longer. Because perhaps one of our problems is that we did not in reality have the debate that we should have had, with ourselves and with the public, from the moment Tony Blair made way for Gordon Brown.

9.59am BST

The former – and possibly future – French PM Nicolas Sarkozy has tweeted his congratulations to David Cameron.

Heartfelt congratulations to you @David_Cameron on your impressive victory -NS

9.55am BST

A reminder that Europe is watching. The German news magazine Der Spiegel has called David Cameron’s win “bad news for Europe”, reports Louise Osborne in Berlin.

The news magazine also says that the Tories’ expected very slim Commons majority will weaken the prime minister.

[The result] means that Cameron, the weak, will be even more susceptible to blackmail from within his own party than he has been in the last five years.

His Eurosceptic squallers in the backbenches, who for years have set the tone in the EU debate, will be even more powerful.

Le Monde’s front page this afternoon – ‘Cameron’s triumph: worry in Europe’ https://t.co/T9jB53rzN1

9.53am BST

David Cameron is expected to visit Buckingham Palace at around 12.30 today to see the Queen, at which point she will presumably invite him to form a new government.

9.51am BST

Here is the moment Ed Balls lost his seat in Morley and Outwood to his Tory rival, Andrea Jenkyns, by just 422 votes:

9.46am BST

There are now only 15 seats still to declare, including South Thanet, where we will learn the fate of Nigel Farage.

The Conservatives need six more seats to win a majority.

9.46am BST

George Osborne has been tweeting. He says the country has given the Tories a mandate “to complete the job we started five years ago”.

Honoured to represent people of Tatton for the next 5 years. Will always seek to represent whole community, regardless of how people voted

British people have asked us to complete the job we started 5 yrs ago of turning Britain around. Will get straight back to work on that task

9.44am BST

David Cameron has told Conservative party staff that “this was the sweetest victory of all”.

He says the party has hung on in Scotland and “displaced those Lib Dems in the south west”.

9.39am BST

Ed Miliband has just arrived at Labour party headquarters in London, with his wife Justine Thornton.

Unsurprisingly, he declined to answer yelled questions from reporters over whether he will resign.

9.35am BST

Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, has defended her party’s performance:

We were predicted to lose two out of our three seats at the beginning of this campaign, and we’ve increased our majority in those two.

What is concerning is that we now have a Conservative government to rule over Wales without a mandate.

9.31am BST

All 40 seats in Wales have been declared, and Plaid Cymru, despite the exposure afforded by Leanne Wood’s participation in the TV debates, has stalled on three MPs:

9.28am BST

The bookies are quick off the mark:

Next Labour Leader: Andy Burnham 7/4 fav, from Yvette Cooper (9/4), Chuka Umunna (3/1), Dan Jarvis (6/1) and Tristram Hunt at 11/1. #GE2015

9.27am BST

More from Patrick Wintour:

Miliband quitting. Howard caretaker option dropped.

9.23am BST

The Guardian’s political editor, Patrick Wintour, confirms that the Labour leader is expected to stand down shortly.

9.20am BST

Ed Miliband is expected to address Labour party staff shortly.

Can we expect him to stand down as leader? The BBC says it understands he will do – which would not be a surprise – but Labour insiders, for now, say this is speculation.

9.19am BST

The Guardian’s Larry Elliott has written his first thoughts on Ed Balls’ rejection by the voters of Morely and Outwood. The full article will be launched shortly, but here’s a summary of Larry’s take.

The Conservatives have waited almost 20 years for their own Portillo moment. With Ed Balls’s defeat in his Morley and Outwood seat, they got it.

Plenty of Westminster big beasts lost their seats in the 2015 election: Vince Cable, David Laws, the two Alexanders – Douglas and Danny. But the scalp of the man who was Gordon Brown’s closest adviser and who would have been chancellor in an Ed Miliband government was the biggest of the lot.

9.17am BST

Tory peer and pollster Lord Ashcroft who earlier defended his polling predictions – says the new Conservative government needs to crack on with constitutional reform:

Ok let’s now get on immediately with constituency boundary changes and reducing MPs from 650 to 600.

…and let’s get rid of the 5 year fixed Parliament nonsense which was a pander to the LibDems…

…and furthermore let’s set up a Royal Commission or similar to review the voting system. First Past the Post has had its day…

with 20 results to come The #Greens got 1,115,162 votes

9.11am BST

More here from my colleague Rowena Mason on Ukip’s difficult night:

Ukip has suffered a frustrating night after gaining 12% of the vote but still only one MP so far – Douglas Carswell in Clacton.

Nigel Farage’s target seat of South Thanet is yet to declare but sources say it is “very, very, very tight” in a battle with the Conservatives.

9.09am BST

Here is the key quote from Ed Balls’ concession speech.

Any personal disappointment I have at this result is as nothing compared to the sense of sorrow I have at the result that Labour has achieved across the United Kingdom tonight in Scotland, but also in England and Wales, and the sense of concern I have about the future.

We will now face five years where questions will arise about the future of our union, about whether or not we can stay as a member of the European Union, and fight for jobs and investment, whether we can make sure we secure our National Health Service at a time of public spending cuts. Those are real concerns to me and to many people across the United Kingdom.

9.08am BST

The BBC’s deputy political editor, James Landale, says many Labour politicians have been gracious in defeat:

I am struck by the graciousness of so many Labour candidates in defeat. Not sure it is being matched by all Conservative victors.

Iain Duncan Smith on Rochester result “I was once a colleague of Mark Reckless, I am pleased he is no longer the MP for that seat” #GE2015

9.05am BST

Nicola Sturgeon triumphantly joins Huw Edwards on the BBC for an interview:

We were hoping to do well, I think we were quietly confident … never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would win 56 seats.

There is an appetite for change in Scotland, for Scotland’s voice to be heard much more loudly in Westminster than it has before.

It’s not about winning another mandate for a referendum … I’m not going to go back on that.

It wasn’t just people who voted yes last yr [who voted SNP yesterday] – signifcant numbers of those who voted no also did so.

9.04am BST

How the UK’s national newspapers reported the shock news that David Cameron appeared to be on course to remain as prime minister, with a Commons majority for the Conservatives.

Related: Election 2015: the front pages – in pictures

9.02am BST

Some commentators are comparing the Tories’ surprise win to 1992 when John Major confounded the pundits and won the last Conservative majority.

There are however other more potentially difficult echoes of ‘92 for the Conservatives, especially a new government with a wafer-thin majority.

8.58am BST

Nigel Farage is still waiting to hear if he has won in South Thanet.

He’d previously said he would step down as leader if he failed to secure the seat. Will he do that, he’s asked by reporters:

Are you calling me a liar?

I just think nothing will change … I would like to see the Conservative prime minister break one promise, which is the maintenance of the Barnett formula.

8.56am BST

David Cameron is the first PM since Lord Salisbury in 1900 to increase vote share at next election after being PM for more than 18 months

8.50am BST

Re-election of Sir Gerald Kaufman in Manchester Gorton means that he will be Father of the House in the new House of Commons

8.49am BST

In the City of London, shares are surging as traders welcome the election results. The FTSE 100 index of blue-chip shares soared 150 points at the open of trading, a gain of 2%.

Companies who would have faced tougher regulations under a Labour government are leading the way; energy firm Centrica is up 6.5%, and several housebuilders have jumped 5%.

Related: Pound jumps and shares surge after general election – live updates

8.47am BST

Ed Balls left the Leeds Arena as soon as he had delivered his concession speech, refusing to answer questions from reporters.

8.46am BST

Here’s David Cameron’s speech to CCHQ this morning.

Exclusive: David Cameron’s victory speech to CCHQ staffers this morning #ge2015 #conservative https://t.co/nKtdhBVxr7

8.43am BST

Who are the eight Lib Dems who have survived this bloodthirsty night?

8.40am BST

Here is some snap Twitter comment from political journalists on Ed Balls losing his seat.

From BuzzFeed’s Jim Waterson

Labour lost Ed Balls’ seat because Labour voters went to UKIP. Labour’s northern base is now in places where UKIP in 2nd. Not a good look.

Ed Balls is one of the big post 1945 political figures. A huge loss to country and Labour.

Now Ed Balls has gone. A massive figure cut down. The absolute end of the Balls-Miliband era. Ukip eating up Lab votes in the north. #GE15

I shall miss @edballsmp – a bruiser, an intellectual, a great conversationalist and un homme serieux. He’ll be back.

Don’t agree with what Ed Balls did to Tony Blair, but he was the biggest intellect in Labour’s shadow cabinet.

Ed Balls loses by 422 votes. If he’d spent just a wee bit more time in his constituency…

Ed Balls a big loss to the Commons – even some Tories concede that he was the top economist in the House.

Tragic for Ed Balls, whatever your opinion of him. He was almost chancellor under Gordon Brown. I suspect he’ll never be chancellor now.

I know he divides opinion but Ed Balls is one of the grown ups and a man who cares about politics. This is a loss for the Commons.

8.34am BST

Andrea Jenkyns -who has just kicked out Ed Balls – hugs her delighted mum. Says Labour voters came over to her. pic.twitter.com/2NQ8OzlpWX

8.25am BST

Ed Balls’ concession speech

Andrea Jenkyns says “there was a lot of humility” in the way Ed Balls responded to defeat.

8.18am BST

The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has lost his Morley and Outwood seat by 422 votes, becoming the highest profile Labour casualty of a terrible election night for the party.

8.16am BST

Here is the latest BBC seat projection.

Our forecast now 329 Con 233 Lab

8.16am BST

David and Samantha Cameron arrived at Conservative HQ in Westminster at 7.20am, waved to staff from the top of the front steps of the HQ and moments after they went in a huge cheer rang out from behind the windows where venetian blinds were pulled shut.

8.13am BST

Here is a picture gallery showing today’s newspaper front pages.

8.11am BST

Here are the average swing figures on the basis of the results that are currently in.

Con to Lab – 0.44%

7.57am BST

Ukip says that it is now the third largest party in the Uk in terms of nationwide vote. And it has come second in at least 90 seats, it says. In a statement it says:

In many constituencies we are the opposition, on behalf of working class voters who have been neglected and taken for granted for decades. This is true of both Northern England where we are the opposition to Labour and in Southern England where we are the opposition to the Conservatives.

We’ve provided hope and truth for the electorate and driven the political agenda.

7.56am BST

Here is David Cameron, along with his wife Samantha Cameron, heading back into No 10.

He looks pretty pleased, let’s just say.

7.51am BST

Q: Your first 18 months are going to be dominated by the EU referendum. That is going to damaging.

Osborne says David Cameron does not believe in running away from problems. With a manadate from the electorate, he will be able to get a better deal for Britain.

7.49am BST

Back to George Osborne on Today:

Q: How is David Cameron going to bring the nation together?

7.48am BST

Caroline Lucas has not just held her Brighton Pavilion seat but done so with style, increasing a 2010 majority of just 1,252 over Labour to almost 8,000 – an amazing achievement.

The Greens did throw everything at this seat, and it’s paid off. The party’s supporters in the count room cheered ecstatically as the result came in.

7.47am BST

George Osborne, the Conservative chancellor, is being interviewed on Today now.

Q: Are you going to be dragged to the right?

7.44am BST

Scotland’s new political landscape this morning. #GE2015 http://t.co/AoNsGRHsOz pic.twitter.com/VSq2ap9t7n

7.43am BST

David Cameron has arrived back at Downing Street.

David Cameron arrives back at Number 10 Downing Street with his wife Samantha: https://t.co/CDqZyVC983 via @NeilLancefield

7.43am BST

My colleague Tom Clark makes a good point about the significance of the Conservatives having a majority.

Super-slim Con maj signif b/c of Salisbury convention then mks it harder for Lords to block repeal HR Act & other manifesto horrors

7.42am BST

All the results are in in Scotland and it’s an astonishing victory for the SNP:

7.41am BST

On the Today programme Paddy Ashdown, the former Lib Dem leader and head of the party’s election campaign, is being interviewed now. He says he is proud of the campaign his party ran, and the decency it embodied.

7.41am BST

Dominic Smith has filed this from the count in Dewsbury, which has proved a ray of sunshine for Labour on a dark, dark morning.

It’s a rare Labour gain from the Conservatives in Dewsbury, with Paula Sherriff ousting incumbent Conservative MP Simon Reevell by a majority of 1,451 votes.

Ahead of the poll, it was assumed a victory here in this key Tory-Labour marginal in West Yorkshire would be a strong indication Ed Miliband was about to be swept into Downing Street. Instead, it offers just consolatory cheer after Labour spectacularly failed to take a long list of other targets including North Warwickshire and Thurrock.

7.38am BST

Danny Alexander, the former Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, said the Conservative campaign had been “hugely divisive” for the UK.

I think that the way David Cameron has conducted this election campaign has been hugely divisive for the UK. He has tried to stoke up the fear of the SNP in England and has helped the SNP to stoke up the fear here in Scotland and it’s been a campaign where the two parties have fed off one another and I think that has been very divisive within the UK. I hope that Mr Cameron, if he does continue as prime minister, will reflect much more carefully on what’s needed to heal the United Kingdom rather than simply pandering to his own party advantage.

In this constituency I got more or less a very similar number of votes to that which I received in 2010, but the SNP did very well and they’ve had a wave of success across Scotland, the Labour Party has almost disappeared and those votes have gone to the SNP. I suspect they will try and use this to push for another referendum on independence which I think would be the wrong thing for our country.

7.36am BST

The Green party has held on to its sole seat in the Commons.

Huge cheers from the room as Lucas was returned, increasing her share of the vote by 11% on 2010.

Lucas says politics about “giving people hope, not filling them with fear.” Party has had best election ever. But political system “broken”

7.34am BST

I now make it 8 seats that Lab have taken off Cons. But Cons have lost 6 to Lab. A net gain so far of two.

7.32am BST

David and Samantha Cameron have arrived at Conservative HQ in central London. Huge cheers ringing out from inside the building. Grant Shapps went in too.

Now. pic.twitter.com/enZ4rk4qXK

7.32am BST

Emily Thornberry, sacked from the Labour frontbench after her unfortunate “white van” tweet, has been returned in Islington South and Finsbury with an increased majority.

Her colleague Stella Creasy also saw a bumper win in Walthamstow, increasing her votes by 17% to snare a 68.9% share of the total vote.

A 23,000 majority is overwhelming – Walthamstow will have some sleep now and then am back on it later today to repay your faith! #thankyou

7.30am BST

A reminder that the world is watching the UK right now, from Guardian Australia’s political correspondent Daniel Hurst.

As the numbers in Westminster shifted, British citizens living in Australia closely followed the developments at an event at Westminster House in the nation’s capital, Canberra.

The aptly named residence of the British high commissioner, Menna Rawlings, hosted dozens of citizens along with business, media and other diplomatic representatives watching the election results on television screens.

7.29am BST

Even amid the gloom there’s some glimmers of joy for Labour. Their candidate for Hove in East Sussex, Peter Kyle, just took the seat back from the Conservatives, a result that had not been expected this morning.

Hove had been in Labour’s top 30 targets from the Tories but they failed in the first Brighton area seat to be declared, Brighton Kemptown, and the omens looked poor.

7.27am BST

With 559 results in, the current turnout figure is 65.8%.

7.26am BST

Another scalp for the SNP, and it’s another Lib Dem losing his seat: Michael Moore, the former Scottish secretary, is out of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. The swing to the SNP was 27%.

The SNP now has 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats.

7.26am BST

This is probably a sound prediction, from the Spectator’s James Forsyth.

One consequence of tonight is that in any future hung parliament, no small party will enter into a full, formal coalitionn

7.25am BST

The Guardian’s James Ball puts some of the night’s big numbers in context.

This is six minutes’ worth of what will be cut from the welfare budget (photo HT @flashboy, who feels okay rn) pic.twitter.com/i4Oamu2SOv

7.23am BST

The final breakdown of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats shows gains for unionism.

7.21am BST

David Cameron has just arrived at Conservative party headquarters. It’s not yet clear whether he will make a speech from there at some point soon, or wait till he can reclaim that Downing Street lectern.

Here’s to a brighter future for everyone. pic.twitter.com/EeN0YFAvBm

7.17am BST

The Liberal Democrats have lost St Austell and Newquay to the Conservatives.

The BBC latest forecast now predicts just eight seats for the Lib Dems once all the totting-up is done. This would, at least, narrow the field for any potential leadership contest.

7.16am BST

David Cameron has been tweeting this morning, underlining a message his set out in his acceptance speech about two hours ago. Here’s the tweet.

One nation, one United Kingdom – that is how I hope to govern if I am fortunate enough to continue as Prime Minister.

I want my party, and I hope the government I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost, the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom. That is how I will govern if I’m fortunate enough to form a government in the coming days.

Frankly this is a group of people that would not care what happened in the rest of the country. The rest of the United Kingdom – Wales, Northern Ireland and England – would not get a look-in, and that is the prospect we face … The SNP do not want to come to Westminster to contribute to a government. They want to come to Westminster to break up our country.

7.12am BST

I’m not entirely sure what Rupert Murdoch’s gripe against the BBC is (though he has a point on the polls):

So all UK polls nonsense. Also bloody nose for BBC.

UK Polls predict closest ever result, followed by months of instability without unlikely last minute big swing to Cameron.

7.09am BST

The Conservative onslaught against its former Lib Dem coalition buddies continues: they have taken Taunton Deane, the seat formerly held by Jeremy Browne, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election.

7.08am BST

Over in the City, traders are pleased that the Conservatives have had such a good night.

The FTSE 100 is expected to jump by over 100 points when the stock market opens at 8am, a gain of around 2%.

We are now calling #FTSE100 to open +120 points and trade above 7000 level at 8am market open

Related: Pound jumps and shares to surge after general election – live updates

7.06am BST

And in not-at-all-surprising news, George Osborne has been returned as MP for Tatton.

7.04am BST

Better news for the Lib Dems in Norfolk North, where Norman Lamb has kept his seat.

7.03am BST

It looks as though the result in Ed Balls’ constituency is going right to the wire:

A recount has been ordered in Ed Balls’ Morley and Outwood seat.

Hearing there are 260 votes in it – don’t know who was the loser on the first count. Ed not answering qs pic.twitter.com/TxyY1ZE6GY

7.02am BST

The Electoral Reform Society says that 153 female MPs have been elected so far, with 150 results still to come.

In the last parliament, there were 148 female MPs.

7.00am BST

Lib Dem minister Stephen Williams has been booted out in Bristol West by Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire.

In fact, he came third, behind a Green surge from candidate Darren Hall, who was tipped to do well here:

BRISTOL WEST – FULL RESULT pic.twitter.com/v6vUgi8Psk

6.53am BST

John Curtice, the psephologist who was in charge of the BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll, is on the Today programme now. He says the idea that the Lib Dems would not be punished for going into coalition was always questionable. Now it has been shown to be false.

6.53am BST

So far…

6.49am BST

Ian Murray, who now faces the next five years as the only Labour MP in Scotland, after holding his seat with a greatly increased majority, told the Guardian he felt “a bit numb really,” after watching his party eviscerated at the general election

“No celebrations tonight, although I’m absolutely delighted to be reelected. It has been a devastating night for the Labour party in Scotland. We need to reflect, we need to listen, we need to move on.”

6.47am BST

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative health secretary, has kept his seat in south west Surrey.

The Conservatives have also held on to Brighton Kemptown, which Labour was hoping to take.

6.42am BST

If you’re joining us from the overnight election live blog, you’ll have spotted that Mark Reckless – who defected from the Tories to Ukip and won a by-election in Rochester and Strood – has just lost his seat. The Conservatives have snatched it back.

Douglas Carswell in Clacton is so far the only Ukip MP. We are yet to hear of Nigel Farage’s fortunes in South Thanet.

6.34am BST

Here is the Guardian’s 6am front page:

Guardian front page 6am edition pic.twitter.com/rWeJVGff0l

6.32am BST

Good morning. For those who stayed up all night, and for those who are just rising and wondering what on earth is going on – here’s what the night has brought us.

Continue reading…

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