The Conservatives have won the UK election and a fresh mandate for Brexit.
They passed the 326-seat threshold for a parliamentary majority after winning seats in northern England that had been in Labour hands for generations.
They triumphed in Blyth Valley, Labour since the 1950s, before picking up the symbolic swing seat of Workington.
Conservative leader Boris Johnson is set to make an address outside Downing Street early Friday morning. You can watch in the video player above.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a “disappointing night” and signalled he would not lead the party in a future election.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, who campaigned to cancel Brexit or have a second referendum, was ousted as an MP in East Dunbartonshire.
Strong show for Scottish nationalists
But just as one referendum seemed to be heading for resolution, so another reared its head again to keep Johnson’s mood in check.
The Scottish National Party enjoyed a strong resurgence north of the border, virtually wiping Labour off the map.
By around 7 a.m. CET, the SNP had won 48 seats of the 55 declared in Scotland, boosting the case for a fresh referendum on Scottish independence.
The country rejected splitting from London in a vote five years ago, but nationalists argue Brexit means a new poll is needed.
Election arithmetic: what are the key numbers to know?
The UK is split into 650 constituencies, which each returns one MP to parliament based on whichever candidate gets the most votes.
That means in theory for a majority, a government needs at least 326 votes, but the peculiarities of the system make that figure more like 320.
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, called the last election in 2017 in a bid to get a bigger majority to push through Brexit.
But her bid backfired and the Conservatives won just 317 seats — 13 fewer than the previous election — forcing them to form a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.
What are the key constituencies to look out for?
Scotland, which voted against Brexit, is a fascinating part of the election plot and it has more than a dozen seats where the Scottish National Party (SNP) are defending narrow majorities.
They include North East Fife, where the SNP won by just two votes in 2017; Perth and North Perthshire; Glasgow East and Glasgow South West.
A strong performance by the SNP would hit Conservative chances of getting a majority and pile the pressure on for another referendum on independence from London.
The Conservatives were nearly wiped out in Scotland after the 2015 election but won 12 seats back last time out.
Incumbent Stephen Kerr holds Stirling with the Conservatives’ narrowest majority in Scotland, with just 148 votes.
In England, there are plenty of seats where the incumbent MP appears to grate with how the constituency voted in the Brexit referendum.
The Conservatives’ ex-Brexit minister Dominic Raab is defending a 23,000 majority in Esher and Walton, which voted to remain in the EU.
Labour’s Laura Smith is defending a 48-vote majority over the Conservatives in Crewe and Nantwich, which backed leave. It’s a similar case in Bishop Aukland that has been Labour since 1918, which also backed quitting the EU.
The Brexit Party’s best hope of getting an MP into parliament appears to be in leave-voting Hartlepool, currently held by Labour.
The constituencies of Jo Swinson and Boris Johnson have also come under the spotlight.
Johnson saw his majority in the north-west London constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip halved at the last election after a strong showing from Labour. If they make further gains, Johnson could become the first Conservative leader in more than a century to be unseated.
Swinson has a 6,000-vote majority over the SNP in East Dunbartonshire, but the Scottish nationalists have made the seat a key target.
What are the main issues?
According to a survey released in November by pollster YouGov, Brexit and the state of the National Health Service (NHS) are the most important issues for voters — similarly to in 2017.
However, while the economy had been the third-biggest issue the last time around, it has since been overshadowed by the issue of crime and shares fourth place with environmental concerns.
“In the lead up to the 2017 general election, only 8% of the British public considered it one of the top three important issues, placing it 26 percentage points behind the economy. Crucially, the environment is now tied with the economy as Britain’s fourth most important issue, with 25% of Brits placing it in one of their top three,” YouGov wrote.
Flagging those concerns as voters headed to the polls was Swedish teen activist Great Thunberg who wrote on Twitter that “every election is a climate election.”
How did we get to this stage?
Former UK PM Theresa May and Johnson both tried to get different versions of a Brexit deal approved by MPs.
That was down to the Conservatives’ dwindling majority and the stalemate over Brexit made a fresh election — the UK’s third in just four years — inevitable.
on the National Health Service and spending pledges.
What will happen on Thursday?
Polls will close at 11 p.m. CET, with exit polls due out shortly afterwards. They are based on interviews carried out with voters outside polling stations, whereas opinion polls ask people who they intend to back in the election.
Official results are then announced by constituencies across the country, with a winner expected to be declared in the early hours of Friday.