Sir Keir Starmer set for No 10 as exit poll forecasts Labour landslide

Sir Keir Starmer is on course for Downing Street as an exit poll indicated his Labour Party will sweep to power.

The Labour leader will become prime minister on Friday with a commanding majority in Parliament, the exit poll for broadcasters suggested.

Rishi Sunak’s term as Prime Minister looks set to end in electoral disaster, with the Conservatives forecast to endure heavy losses.

It marks a dramatic turnaround since the 2019 general election, when Boris Johnson won the Tories a healthy 80-seat majority and Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to its worst result since 1935.

The exit poll suggests Labour is on course for 410 seats, with the Tories reduced to 131.

General Election 2024 exit poll showing Labour on 410 seats
(PA Graphics)

It will mean a Labour prime minister in No 10 for the first time in 2010 and the Conservatives facing a possible civil war as the fight for the future direction of the party and the battle to potentially replace Mr Sunak gets under way.

After 14 years in power it was always going to be a difficult election for the Conservatives, but the sometimes shambolic campaign – triggered at a time of Mr Sunak’s choosing – has contributed to their party’s likely defeat.

From the rain-drenched speech announcing the surprise July 4 poll, through the D-Day debacle as he left Normandy early to record a TV interview to confused campaign messaging about a Labour “supermajority”, Mr Sunak struggled to convince the electorate he was the right man to lead the country.

Going for a summer election rather than waiting until the autumn was always a gamble, and the Prime Minister was not helped by the scandal of Tory candidates and officials allegedly heading to the bookies armed with inside knowledge of the date.

Mr Sunak is expected to resign after leading his party to defeat, but many of the contenders jostling to replace him are nervously awaiting their own constituency results to see if their leadership dreams survive the night.

PA graphic showing largest majorities won by single parties at general elections since 1900
(PA Graphics)

The likes of Penny Mordaunt, Grant Shapps, Suella Braverman, Steve Baker and Robert Jenrick all face battles to return to Parliament.

Former home secretaries Suella Braverman and Dame Priti Patel, security minister Tom Tugendhat and Health Secretary Victoria Atkins could survive to fight for the leadership.

The exit poll suggested Labour would have a majority of 170, with the forecast indicating the lowest number of Tory MPs on record.

The poll suggested the Liberal Democrats will win 61 seats, Reform UK on 13 and the Green Party two.

PA Graphic showing Lowest number of seats won by Tories at general elections
(PA Graphics)

In Scotland, the SNP are expected to secure 10 seats with Plaid Cymru in Wales on four.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said the forecast was “encouraging” but  a number of seats were on a “knife edge”.

“If you look at where we were in 2019, just to get a majority of one we’d have had to have a swing greater than Tony Blair in 1997,” she told the BBC.

“So we know a number of seats were on a knife edge from our own data, but I also know that all of our activists and our candidates have been going out there not taking anything for granted and speaking to the electorate about what matters to them.”

A Tory source said: “It’s clear based on this results we will have lost some very good and hardworking candidates.”

Northern Ireland minister Mr Baker, who had indicated he would run for the leadership if he survived but is forecast to lose his seat, said it was a “pretty devastating night for the Conservative Party”.

He told the BBC he expected Mr Sunak will now “do what he believes is in the national interest”.

Ballot boxes arrive at Silkworth Community Pool Tennis & Wellness Centre in Sunderland
Ballot boxes arrive at Silkworth Community Pool Tennis & Wellness Centre in Sunderland (Owen Humphreys/PA)

SNP campaign director Stewart Hosie described the prediction as “stark” but added that it was “just an exit poll”.

“In 2005, I think we were down to five or six MPs and we went on to win the Holyrood election in 2007,” he said.

“In 2010, I think we returned six and went on to win a majority in Holyrood in 2011.

“So I’m not worried about what this means for the SNP, but clearly if this result or something like it comes to pass, it tells us that the overriding motivation for almost everybody in this election was simply to get the Tories out and people appear to have decided that a vote for Labour is the way to do that.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said his party was “on course for our best results in a century, thanks to our positive campaign with health and care at its heart”.