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General Election exit poll: Tories lead with 316 seats - Labour face demolition at hands of SNP

'If the exit poll is correct, I will eat my hat'

Published 07/05/2015

DUP Leader Peter Robinson celebrate their General Election results with MPs Nigel Dodds and Gavin Robinson at the Kings Hall in Belfast.
DUP Leader Peter Robinson celebrate their General Election results with MPs Nigel Dodds and Gavin Robinson at the Kings Hall in Belfast.
East Antrim and South Antrim constituency counts at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. Danny Kinnehan celebrates with Mike Nesbitt after taking the South Antrim seat from Willie McCrea Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
A defeated Naomi Long at the East Belfast count
The DUP’s Gavin Robinson makes his speech after winning the East Belfast seat from Alliance’s Naomi Long (left)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 08: Prime Minister David Cameron opens the car door for his wife Samantha as they leave 10 Downing Street for Windsor Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth I on May 8, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Ed Miliband speaks to the media and party supporters at George Street in London, as he resigns as leader of the Labour Party after a dramatic election night where his party was virtually wiped out in Scotland and David Cameron was on the way to a Commons majority. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Ukip leader and parliamentary candidate for Thanet South Nigel Farage (left)arrives at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Kent, for the delayed count in Thanet South. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Alasdair McDonnell is to give up his Assembly seat after retaining his South Belfast Westminster position
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 08: Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave 10 Downing Street for Windsor Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth I on May 8, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband (C) and his wife Justine Thornton arrive at Labour party headquarters in London on May 8, 2015, the day after a general election. Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives looked on course Friday for a surprise victory in Britain's general election which would redefine the country's future in Europe and herald more austerity cuts. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon departs Edinburgh ahead of attending the 70th anniversary of VE Day commemorations in London on May 8, 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 08: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg looks dejected as they leave his constituency declaration at the English Institute of Sport on May 8, 2015 in Sheffield, England. The United Kingdom has gone to the polls to vote for a new government in one of the most closely fought General Elections in recent history. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez look dejected as they leave his constituency declaration at the English Institute of Sport on May 8, 2015 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
East Belfast candidate Naomi Long (Alliance) Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
DUP East Belfast candidate Gavin Robinson takes the seat from Naomi Long at The King's Hall in Belfast
DUP Jeffery Donaldson gives the thumbs up after winning the Lagan Valley Count at the Leisureplex, Lisburn.
East Antrim and South Antrim constituency counts at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. Danny Kinnehan celebrates with wife Anna after taking the South Antrim seat from Willie McCrea Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
East Antrim and South Antrim constituency counts at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. Danny Kinnehan shakes the hand of Willie McCrea who he replaced as MP of South Antrim Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Willie McCrea from the DUP gives a very gracious speech after being replaced by Danny Kinnehan. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty celebrates with his family and freinds after the announcment of his 16,807 votes victory in West Tyrone during this evenings results in the 2015 general Election results from the Omagh Leisure Centre. Photo Mark marlow/Pacemaker Press
North Belfast candidate?Gerry Kelly (Sinn Fein) Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
East Belfast ballot boxes arrive as the General Election count takes place at the King's Hall on May 7, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is interviewed by a broadcaster as the General Election count takes place at the King's Hall on May 7, 2015 in Belfast
East Antrim and South Antrim constituency counts at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. Danny Kinnehan UUP Candidate Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Counting in the General Election gets underway at the Kings Hall in Belfast.
DUP's Nigel Dodds (North Belfast) with wife Diane at The King's Hall in Belfast
Banbridge Count Counting is under way at Banbridge, County Down, one of eight centres across Northern Ireland Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
East Antrim and South Antrim constituency counts at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. Sammy Wilson DUP Candidate Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
East Antrim and South Antrim constituency counts at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. Danny Kinnehan UUP Candidate Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Sitting MP Mark Durkan, SDLP, at the count for the Foyle Constituency which is being held in Templemore Sports Complex, Derry-Londonderry Northern Ireland. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 07.05.15
PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/05/2015 One of the first ballot boxes to arrived is opened in Templemore Sports Complex last night as counting got underway in the 2015 General Election.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/052015 Westminster Elections Banbridge Count Sinn Fein candidate Catherine Seeley pictured at the count in Banbridge, County Down, one of eight centres across Northern Ireland Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/052015 Westminster Elections Banbridge Count Counting is under way at Banbridge, County Down, one of eight centres across Northern Ireland Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/052015 Westminster Elections Banbridge Count Counting is under way at Banbridge, County Down, one of eight centres across Northern Ireland Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
A man arrives to cast his vote at Groomsport boat house on May 7, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Pacemaker Press Belfast 07-05-2015: Voters at Glenavy Youth Project in Co Antrim , as Northern Ireland voters take to the polls on Thursday to select 18 MPs in the general election. A total of 138 candidates are standing across Northern Ireland and 1.2m people are eligible to vote. Picture Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A woman walks past a sign in the window of the Newtownards Electoral office in Co Down Northern Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Demonstrators carry black flags during a protest at Parliament Square on election day on May 7, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
An election official stacks plastic boxes at a vote counting centre in Margate, southeast England, on May 7, 2015 in preparation for the arrival of the ballots during the UK general election. AFP/Getty Images
A polling station sign on a parking billboard at Cairnshill Primary school in Belfast as polls open across the UK for the General Election. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
SNP candidate for Gordon, Alex Salmond, arrives to cast his vote at Auchterellon School, Ellon, with local resident Nicki Falconer with her family Skye (left) and Keiran (right) as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner.
A ballot box for the constituency of East Belfast at the Newtownards Electoral office in Co Down Northern Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
UUP candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom Elliott arrives at the polling station in his home town of Ballinamallard, Co. Fermanagh.
A woman walks past post for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Alliance party as she walks in east Belfast on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened Thursday in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Mid Suffolk Council handout photo of their Poll Clerk Simon Stoner by a caravan being used for a Polling Station in Kenton, near Debenham, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Mid Suffolk Council/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Women at the polling station at Bordesley Green allotments in Birmingham, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 7th May 2015 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye Polling stations open in Northern Ireland for the 2015 Westminster Election. Voting at the Elim Church polling station in the Dundonald area of east Belfast.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 07-05-2015: Northern Ireland voters are going to the polls on Thursday to select 18 MPs in the general election. A total of 138 candidates are standing across Northern Ireland and 1.2m people are eligible to vote. SDLP Leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell pictured casting his vote with Olivia Nugent and daughter Aileen. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 07-05-2015: Northern Ireland voters are going to the polls on Thursday to select 18 MPs in the general election. A total of 138 candidates are standing across Northern Ireland and 1.2m people are eligible to vote. Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey pictured after casting his vote. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
First Minister Peter Robinson with DUP candidate Gavin Robinson for East Belfast, cast their vote in the at Elim Church in Dundonald.
A comical photo from Cairnshill Primary in Belfast where a polling station sign was stuck on top of a car parking sign. Pic: Julie McGovern-Peoples
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness leaves the polling station after casting his vote in Derry in the General Election. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 07.05.15
Goods are removed from 10 Downing Street, London, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha leave after casting their votes at Spelsbury Memorial Hall, Witney, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Voters visit a polling station at Hanover Primary School, Islington, London, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Conservative candidate for Wirral West Esther McVey on the streets of West Kirkby on General Election Day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Police officers stand outside a Polling station at Westminster Central Hall, London, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett (second right) arrives to cast her vote at Ossulston Tenants' Hall, London, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine arrive to cast their votes at Sutton village hall in Doncaster, as Britain goes to the ballot box today in the most uncertain General Election for decades, with no party on course to emerge a clear winner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 7, 2015. See PA story ELECTION Main. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Protestors demonstrate as British Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party David Cameron (R) leaves with his wife Samantha after voting at a polling station in Spelsbury on May 7, 2015 as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened today in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the public arrive at a polling station set up in Mattingley church hall in southern England, on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened today in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon (L) waves as she and her husband Peter Murrell cast their votes at the Broomhoouse Community Hall in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened Thursday in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANANAndy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images
A member of the public looks at a dog tied to railings after voting at a polling station in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened Thursday in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOLIan MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images
A dog is tied to railings at a polling station in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened Thursday in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOLIan MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the public arrive to vote at a polling station in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened Thursday in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOLIan MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images
A woman attaches a sign directing voters to the polling station in the village of Sutton, near Doncaster, in northern England on May 7, 2015, as Britain holds a general election. Polls opened today in Britain's closest general election for decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and a host of smaller parties. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

Exit polls have predicted a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives the largest party in the tightest general election in more than 30 years.

The survey of how roughly 20,000 voted shows David Cameron on 316 seats ahead of Labour, but 10 short of a majority.

The Liberal Democrats are set to lose all but 10 of their MPs, according to the poll for BBC, ITN and Sky. If the prediction is correct, it would leave Nick Clegg’s party with just 10 MPs, but that would just about be enough to form a second Coalition with the Tories - taking the two parties to the slimmest of majorities of 326 seats.

Support for the SNP looks to have prevented Ed Miliband from winning the election outright after winning 58 seats, cutting Labour’s seat share in Scotland to just one MP.

The poll predicts Ukip is on course to win just two seats, despite the party expected to win around 13 per cent of the vote.

Liberal Democrat MEP Paddy Ashdown told the BBC: "If the exit poll is correct, I will eat my hat."

Tony Blair's former director of communications Alastair Campbell said the exit poll was "certainly not what we were hoping for or expecting".

Mr Campbell told the BBC: "I have to say it just doesn't feel right . I think there is a lot of scepticism about the poll. If this poll is right, there is going to have to be a pretty big look at the polling industry."

He added: "David Cameron set out to win a majority. It looks like he hasn't. I don't know what he is going to do in relation to the Liberal Democrats."

Tory chief whip Michael Gove told the BBC: "If it is the case that the exit poll is right, then David Cameron has won a very handsome victory in this election. He will have secured both an advance on seats and outperformed the expectation of almost every commentator."

This is how the exit poll predicts the election:

Conservatives: 316

Labour: 239

SNP: 58

Liberal Democrats: 10

Ukip: 2

Green party: 2

It is the most accurate poll of the election before the final results are announced in the early hours of Friday morning because it tells us how people have voted rather than how they will vote.

It is conducted by 140 researchers at 140 polling stations across the UK, with venues chosen that are seen to be representative of the constituency they are in.

Results are sent in to a central team of five pollsters, who use the data to generate a national prediction.

In 2010 the exit poll was very accurate, under-predicting Labour’s seat share by three and over-predicting the Liberal Democrats by two.

But in 1992 the two exit polls for ITN and BBC wrongly predicted a hung Parliament - John Major had just about secured a majority for the Conservatives.

It could have been even worse for the BBC, had it not made a last-minute adjustment before David Dimbleby addressed the nation. Minutes before 10pm it was predicting a Labour majority.

This election could see a repeat of 1992 as the rise of smaller parties make it much more complicated to predict how some of the most marginal constituencies will swing.

Stay up to date with all the latest election developments as the results roll in with our live-blog.

Live Election results: Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales - state of the parties, counts and predictions  

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