May's Conservatives forecast to lose their majority with UK headed for hung parliament, according to bombshell exit poll

Mark Sands
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May called an early election in mid-April to strengthen her hand ahead of Brexit talks. (Source: Getty)

The UK faces a hung parliament following today's general election according to the shocking results of tonight's exit poll.

Conservative leader Theresa May called the election in mid-April hoping to expand her working majority of 17, but a survey of voters suggests the party faces the humiliating prospect of losing seats instead.

The exit poll surveys how around 20,000 people actually voted in today's election, making it more accurate than other research on voting intention.

If the result proves accurate, it could end May's short time as Tory leader and Prime Minister, even if the Conservatives are able to form a coalition government.

And it marks a shocking turnaround for the Tories, who entered the campaign leading by as much as 20 points in some surveys.

However, the figures include significant uncertainty, with more than 70 seats regarded as too close to call, meaning a majority could still be within May's grasp.

Read more: Final pre-election poll results: Tories take 12 point lead in ICM poll

The Conservatives are predicted to win 314 seats, down from 330 at the end of the last parliament.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party is forecast for a total of 266, having held 229 when parliament was dissolved, although this does not include the previously Labour seat of Manchester Gorton which saw MP Sir Gerald Kaufman pass away earlier this year.

Under the UK's First Past The Post system, 323 seats are needed to lead a majority government.

Read more: Election Battlegrounds - Five seats beyond London to watch for overnight

Tim Farron's Lib Dems are expected to come away from the election with 14 seats, from 9 earlier this year.

The SNP are predicted to lose out substantially, dropping from more than 50 seats to just 34.

Reacting to the figures, City lobbyist and Cicero executive chairman Iain Anderson said: "If these numbers are right, this is a political earthquake.

"The coalition permutations are endless with these numbers and there will be really questions about what happens next with Brexit.

"This really will unnerve businesses and it's likely to spook markets considerably."

Institute of Directors chairwoman Barbara Judge told City A.M. the results were "surprising", but added: "Whoever wins and whatever happens tomorrow, business has to have a bigger voice going forward.

"We have to pull together and support the next Prime Minister, whoever it is, because are going to Brexit table and we have to look strong."

A spokesman for British Chambers of Commerce said the figures would generate uncertainty for firms, adding, "uncertainty is always bad for business"

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