UK Election 2024: Hour-by-Hour Guide to How the Results Come In

(Bloomberg) -- The UK votes Thursday to decide whether Labour Party leader Keir Starmer can end 14 years of opposition and win the keys to 10 Downing Street, or whether — somehow — Prime Minister Rishi Sunak can buck the polls and claim what would be an extraordinary turnaround victory.

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Pollsters say the question is less about a Labour win than the scale of it. Starmer’s party has led the Conservatives by more than 20 points through the 6-week election campaign, according to Bloomberg’s poll of polls.

Every so-called MRP survey of the campaign — seen as the gold standard analysis technique — has pointed to a huge Labour majority in the House of Commons, ranging from 162 to 382 seats. All bar the lowest would see Labour win more seats under Starmer than in Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.

The Tories appear on course for a wipeout. One poll projects them winning just 53 seats, down from 365 in 2019; another sees the Liberal Democrats vaulting above the Tories into second and becoming the official opposition. Nigel Farage’s decision to stand for his Reform UK party has hurt the Conservatives.

British general elections are decided by separate votes in 650 districts, each with a seat in the House of Commons. A party needs 326 for a majority, though about 320 typically suffices because the speaker and three deputies don’t vote, and Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein chooses not to sit in Westminster.

Typically, most constituencies don’t change parties in a general election: in 2019, 2017, 2015 and 2010, the number of seats changing hands were 81, 70, 111 and 117. If a Labour landslide materializes, it’s likely to be bigger this time: in 1997, 184 constituencies flipped.

Key to interpreting the results is the concept of swing — the vote shift from one party to another compared with the previous election. In special elections since 2019, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have secured a series of historic swings from the Conservatives. This election is complicated by boundary changes, meaning some seats don’t map exactly onto the result five years ago.

But the polling points to a seismic moment in which some of the biggest figures in British politics could lose their seats — one survey even has Sunak becoming the first prime minister to suffer that fate.

Below is a list of some key results to watch for and when, using timings on Thursday night and Friday morning provided by the Press Association, and based on seat projections from YouGov’s June 11-18 MRP poll.

10 p.m. Thursday

Voting ends and the BBC, Sky and ITV release the official Ipsos exit poll. Last time, it predicted 368 seats for the Conservatives and 191 for Labour — close to the final result of 365 to 203.

11 p.m.

Constituencies in North East England race to be first to complete their counts. Blyth and Ashington expects to announce results at 11:30 p.m., with Houghton and Sunderland South doing so 15 minutes later.

They’re both safe Labour seats and shouldn’t provide surprises. Bridget Phillipson, who will hope to be education secretary, is standing in Sunderland and should be the first of Labour’s current shadow cabinet to be elected.


The first Tory loss could be Chairman Richard Holden, who was parachuted in to stand in Basildon and Billericay, where Labour and Reform UK are challenging. Also just after midnight, Labour’s first gain from the Tories could be in Broxbourne. Another possible gain, Swindon South, is due at 12:30 a.m.

Labour could then begin to rebuild its so-called red wall — the Brexit-backing traditional Labour seats that switched to the Boris Johnson-led Tories in 2019. Cramlington and Killingworth — a new seat formed largely from the old constituency of Blyth Valley — expects to announce at 12:45 a.m.

1 a.m. Friday

The bulk of early seats should be Labour holds, but the party’s first gain from the Scottish National Party (measured against the 2019 election) is possible in redrawn Rutherglen. Labour took the old seat in a by-election in 2023. Labour once dominated in Scotland, winning 41 of its 59 seats in 2010. In 2019, it won just one — and is banking on gains this time, capitalizing on SNP turmoil.

Labour gains from the Conservatives are possible in Leigh and Atherton and Swindon North. At 1:45 a.m., there’s the potential for the Liberal Democrats to make their first gain from the Tories, in Harrogate and Knaresborough.

2 a.m.

If the polls are correct, it’s possible the Tories will get to 2 a.m. with no seats. But Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch — also a favorite to succeed Sunak as party leader — should hold hers in North West Essex. The Tories should also defend Castle Point and may retain Havant.

Still, Tory losses to Labour are likely to stack up, with defeats possible in former cabinet minister and right-winger Simon Clarke’s Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. He was the original red-wall Tory, taking his seat in 2017.

Labour will also be looking at Glenrothes and Mid Fife, West Dunbartonshire and Paisley and Renfrewshire South for more gains from the SNP.

2:30 a.m.

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle’s seat of Chorley is due to announce, but he’s unlikely to face any problems, because he’ll be largely unopposed.

Labour will be looking to regain the red wall seats of Heywood and Middleton North, Burnley and Bolsover from the Conservatives. Other Labour gains could include Aldershot, the home of the British Army which has always voted Tory.

The Liberal Democrats will hope to wrest Stratford-on-Avon from the Tories, and are also fighting for victory in North East Hampshire — the first so-called blue wall seat likely to declare. YouGov’s Patrick English defines the blue wall as Conservative-held areas in the south or east of England that voted Remain in the Brexit referendum and have a higher than average proportion of graduates.

Another seat of interest is Rochdale, a northern town with a large Muslim population where left-winger George Galloway of the Workers Party of Britain won a fractious by-election in February dominated by the Israel-Hamas war.

3 a.m.

More than 100 seats are due to call results at about 3 a.m.

Starmer’s party will hope to win back red wall seats Bolton North East, Dudley, Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes, Tipton and Wednesbury and West Bromwich. Another, Blackpool South, voted Tory in 2019 but switched back to Labour in a by-election in May on the third-biggest Tory-to-Labour swing ever.

An announcement is also expected in Islington North, where former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — ejected from the party by Starmer — is standing as an independent to try to extend his 41-year stint in Parliament.

The Tories could see their first cabinet minister fall. The Liberal Democrats look likely to take Justice Secretary Alex Chalk’s blue wall Cheltenham seat, while Transport Secretary Mark Harper may lose to Labour in the Forest of Dean.

Other potential blue wall losses include Romsey and Southampton North to the Liberal Democrats and the wealthy London district of Chelsea and Fulham to Labour. In Newark, former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick — who’s been touted as a potential Tory leader — may lose to Labour.

3:15 a.m.

The Greens hope to win their second-ever seat in the House of Commons. Co-leader Carla Denyer mounted a strong campaign in Bristol Central, where would-be culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire could suffer a rare Labour loss.

The blue wall seats of Stroud and Witney — the latter was once held by ex-premier David Cameron — may fall to Labour and the Liberal Democrats respectively. Tory Chief Whip Simon Hart could be defeated by the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru party in Caerfyrddin, while Labour are hoping to regain the red wall seat of Scunthorpe, and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey’s constituency of Kingston and Surbiton is also due to announce.

3:30 a.m.

Another 100-odd seats are due to announce, with several Conservatives big beasts at risk of defeat. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt could become the most senior minister ever to lose their seat, with Godalming and Ash potentially falling to the Liberal Democrats. Davey’s party could also take Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s Chichester seat, while Health Secretary Victoria Atkins is under threat from Reform UK in Louth and Horncastle.

Tory leadership hopefuls Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt could be defeated by Labour in Welwyn Hatfield and Portsmouth North. Starmer’s party is also looking to win back red wall seats including Gedling, Hyndburn, Rother Valley and Wolverhampton North East. Blue wall losses for the Tories could include Esher and Walton to the Liberal Democrats and Harrow East to Labour.

There’s interest in Dover and Deal, a seat on the front line of UK immigration pressure where right-winger Natalie Elphicke was elected as a Conservative in 2019. She defected to Labour in May and isn’t standing this time. Rachel Reeves, in line to be the first female chancellor, should win Leeds West and Pudsey, a new seat combining her former constituency and a Tory-held one.

In Scotland, more gains from the SNP are possible for Labour in Glasgow East, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire West, and Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch.

3:45 a.m.

Tamworth — which Labour won in an October by-election on what was at the time the second-biggest-ever swing from the Tories — may be a rare loss for the opposition party, going back to the Conservatives. But Labour will hope to take Redditch and Ribble Valley from the Tories, while the Liberal Democrats are gunning for the blue wall seat of Wimbledon as well as Tory-held Carshalton and Wallington, both in south London.

4 a.m.

The halfway mark in terms of number of seats to declare, with more than 120 constituencies expecting to announce.

Some MRP polls see Sunak losing Richmond and Northallerton to Labour, a result that would define the Tory collapse. Expect some words from him reflecting on how the election is panning out — and possibly even a concession. In Braintree, Home Secretary James Cleverly faces a Labour threat, though a more likely loser is Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride in Central Devon.

One of the biggest questions of the night should be answered in Clacton, where Brexit architect Nigel Farage looks set to win a seat in the House of Commons at his eighth attempt. His Reform UK could also win Boston and Skegness, where the man Farage replaced as leader, Richard Tice, is standing.

The Tories also face losing the blue wall seats of Beckenham and Penge and Hertford and Stortford to Labour, and East Hampshire, Guildford, Harpenden and Berkhamsted, South Cotswolds and Woking to the Liberal Democrats.

Labour is seeking to win back red wall seats from the Tories including Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor, which includes the bulk of Tony Blair’s old constituency, as well as Penistone and Stocksbridge, Birmingham Northfield, and Bishop Auckland. Another seat to watch is Birmingham Ladywood, where Labour insiders see would-be justice secretary Shabana Mahmood coming under pressure from an independent candidate.

4:15 a.m.

Starmer should win easily in Holborn and St. Pancras in north London, and if the polling is correct, Labour will be also close to securing its overall majority. He’s likely to give a speech pointing to the challenges ahead for the country.

Boris Johnson’s old seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which the Tories narrowly held in a by-election last year, is expected to fall to Labour.

4:30 a.m.

If the MRP projections by YouGov, which pioneered the technique in the 2017 election, are correct, then Labour is expected to reach the magic number of 326 amid a flurry of 60 or so seat announcements at about 4:30 a.m.

Potential Tory losses to Labour include former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg’s North East Somerset and Hanham seat, and Worthing West, where Peter Bottomley, the longest-standing MP and so-called father of the House of Commons, is seeking to extend a tenure that began in 1975.

Cabinet minister David Davies may lose out to Labour in Monmouthshire, with Starmer’s party also hoping to pick up the blue wall Tory seats of Kensington and Bayswater and Milton Keynes North.

Retiring Tory grandee Michael Gove’s old seat of Surrey Heath looks set to go to the Liberal Democrats, as is the archetypal middle England seat of Tunbridge Wells.

In Ashfield, former Tory and Labour politician Lee Anderson is a potential winner for Reform UK. Another minor party success looks nailed-on in Brighton Pavilion, where the Greens are standing a new candidate — former London mayor candidate Sian Berry — to replace the party’s first ever MP, former leader Caroline Lucas, who’s held the constituency since 2010.

5 a.m.

By now the overall result should be clear — unless the polls were wrong.

Cabinet casualties are possible in Banbury, which Conservative Attorney General Victoria Prentis may lose to Labour, and in Ely and East Cambridgeshire, where Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer is under pressure from the Liberal Democrats. Veterans minister Johnny Mercer, who attends cabinet, faces defeat to Labour in Plymouth Moor View.

Labour wants Tory blue wall seats including Earley and Woodley, Filton and Bradley Stoke, Truro and Falmouth and North Somerset and Hitchin, where City Minister Bim Afolami is standing. Red wall seats they’re looking to win back include Doncaster East and the Isle of Axholme, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Ossett and Denby Dale and Stoke-on-Trent’s three constituencies.

The Liberal Democrats are eying up the blue wall seats of Lewes, Newbury, Winchester and Maidenhead, which was vacated after 27 years by retiring former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.

5:30 a.m.

Blink-and-you-miss-her ex-premier Liz Truss is expected to hold South West Norfolk, though it may be close. Security minister Tom Tugendhat could be one of the few Tory leadership contenders to keep his seat in Tonbridge.

Labour hopes to win the blue wall seats of Chipping Barnet and Hendon, while the Liberal Democrats are targeting Didcot and Wantage. Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner’s safe seat of Ashton-under-Lyne is also due to declare.

6 a.m.

The last few results dribble in. The Liberal Democrats look set to hold Chesham and Amersham, which they won in a by-election in 2021 on a huge swing from the Tories in what was Boris Johnson’s first major electoral setback as prime minister. They could also take Wokingham, and Henley and Thame — Johnson’s old constituency from the days before he was London mayor.

Labour will hope to cap off their expected victory by taking the blue wall seats of Croydon South and Wycombe from ministers Chris Philp and Steve Baker.

6:30 a.m.

The final declarations are expected to include Ilford North, the seat held by Labour’s prospective health secretary Wes Streeting.

Once all the results are in, the focus will switch to the change of government — if the expected Labour win has materialized. Sunak is likely to head to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation to King Charles III. Then it’s Starmer’s turn, and the King will invite him to form a new government.

--With assistance from Jacob Reid, Isabella Ward and Eamon Akil Farhat.

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