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The Latest | Keir Starmer is officially the new UK prime minister

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Labour leader Keir Starmer officially became prime minister of the United Kingdom on Friday after his party won a landslide victory in a national election.

Starmer received the blessing of King Charles III to form a government in a ceremony known as the “kissing of hands.” A photo of the occasion served as the official announcement of Starmer’s new title.

Earlier on Friday, Rishi Sunak offered his resignation as prime minister to the king.

Voters in the U.K. cast their ballots Thursday in a national election to choose the 650 lawmakers who will sit in Parliament for the next five years.

After more than a decade in power under five different prime ministers, Sunak’s Conservatives suffered a major defeat.

Here’s the latest:

President Biden reaffirms special trans-Atlantic relationship with Starmer

President Joe Biden has congratulated British Prime Minister Keir Starmer on his appointment and reaffirmed the special relationship between the United States and the U.K.

Biden said he was looking forward to working closely with Starmer and stressed the importance of cooperating “in support of freedom and democracy around the world,” according to a readout from the White House.

The two leaders reiterated their support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, as well their shared commitment to protecting the gains from the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland, the statement added.

“The President looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Starmer to the Washington Summit next week to celebrate NATO’s 75th anniversary,” it said.

Reform UK wins fifth Parliament seat after recount

Hard-right politician Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has won its fifth seat in Parliament after a vote recount.

Reform candidate James McMurdock won the constituency of Basildon South and East Thurrock with a majority of just 98 votes over a Labour rival.

The party, which Farage formed in 2018, has taken second place in many constituencies, pushing the Conservatives into third place on the back of an anti-immigration election campaign.

Farage, a prominent Donald Trump supporter, gained a seat in Parliament himself after seven failed attempts in previous elections.

Just one of the House of Commons’ 650 seat was left undeclared Friday. The result of the ballot in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire in Scotland was delayed until Saturday because the votes needed to be recounted.

Top jobs in Starmer’s Cabinet announced

Several other top jobs in Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s new Cabinet have been announced.

David Lammy has been appointed the foreign secretary, while Yvette Cooper is the home secretary looking after key issues including immigration and policing.

John Healey was named the defense secretary.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, has been appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster — the most senior minister in the Cabinet after the prime minister.

Rachel Reeves appointed first female Treasury chief

Rachel Reeves has been appointed Treasury chief in Britain’s new Labour government, the first woman to hold the job.

Reeves was put in charge of the country’s finances on Friday by Prime Minister Keir Starmer. She gets a job and title, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that dates to the 16th century.

The former Bank of England economist faces the daunting task of delivering Labour’s promise to get the economy growing and invest in public services while working with a large national debt.

Starmer is appointing his Cabinet on Friday after winning a landslide election victory.

Angela Rayner appointed deputy prime minister

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has been appointed as Britain’s deputy prime minister.

Rayner was the first senior politician to be appointed by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer as he begins the work of appointing his Cabinet.

Rayner, who has served as Starmer’s deputy party leader since 2020, will also take the role of the Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Rayner has often spoken about her tough background growing up in a deprived public housing block and leaving school early as a young mother.

She started her career as a trade union official before embarking on a career as a lawmaker.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage heckled by protesters

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, who has long been one of Britain’s most divisive politicians, was booed and heckled by several protesters before he delivered a speech in London.

Several protesters were escorted out of the room as the hard-right politician repeatedly shouted “Boring!” at their heckling. Farage told one of the protesters to return to the pub.

Farage, 60, won a seat in Parliament for the first time after seven previous failed attempts. His newly-formed Reform party won four of the House of Commons’ 650 seats in Thursday’s election on the back of a campaign focused on cutting immigration in Britain.

Farage’s campaign was tainted by a string of controversies sparked by racist or misogynistic comments reportedly made by his candidates. On Thursday, he said he was going to “professionalize” his party, adding: “Those few bad apples that have crept in will be long gone and we will never have any of their type back in our organization.”

Starmer gives his first speech as UK prime minister

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has vowed to lead a “government of service” on a “mission of national renewal.”

Starmer acknowledged in his first speech outside 10 Downing St. that many people are disillusioned and cynical about politics.

But he said his government would try to restore faith in government.

He said that “brick by brick, we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity.”

Starmer spoke after he and his wife, Victoria, walked up to the residence at10 Downing St. to roaring applause and shook hands with supporters.

Starmer spoke in the same place outside the house, where outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had delivered his farewell speech about two hours earlier.

The speech came shortly after King Charles III asked him to form a government during a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace known as the “kissing of hands,” in which Starmer officially became prime minister.

Starmer arrives at Downing Street for the first time as UK prime minister

Keir Starmer has arrived at Downing Street for the first time as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom.

He arrived in a car with his wife, Victoria Starmer, shortly after meeting with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.

Keir Starmer is giving a speech outside No. 10 Downing Street.

Downing Street was lined with Labour Party supporters, who cheered his arrival, waving small Union Jack flags.

Keir Starmer is officially the new UK prime minister

Labour leader Keir Starmer has officially become prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Starmer received the blessing of King Charles III to form a government in a ceremony known as the “kissing of hands.”

A photo of the occasion served as the official announcement of Starmer’s new title.

Starmer is now headed from Buckingham Palace to take up residence in No. 10 Downing Street, where he is expected to speak.

Starmer arrives at Buckingham Palace for meeting with the king

Labour leader Keir Starmer has arrived at Buckingham Palace to accept the request of King Charles III to form a government after his party’s landslide victory.

In a ceremony known as the “kissing of hands,” Starmer will officially become U.K. prime minister. He will then head to his official residence at 10 Downing Street.

Starmer’s arrival at the palace is part of the choreography of changing governments that harkens back to a time when the king exercised supreme power and chose his preeminent minister – the prime minister – to run his government.

The modern-day constitutional monarchy echoes that tradition, with the king officially offering the post to the party that holds a majority in the House of Commons.

Earlier in the day, outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered his resignation to the king.

Sunak resigns

Rishi Sunak has departed from Buckingham Palace following his resignation as prime minister, after the Conservative Party suffered staggering losses in the general election.

Sunak officially left the post after tendering his resignation to King Charles III in his final audience with the monarch. Sunak was driven to the palace in a chauffeur-driven ministerial car, and left in a private vehicle.

Sunak leaves 10 Downing street after final speech as prime minister

Rishi Sunak has left the prime minister’s residence and headed to Buckingham Palace to offer his resignation to King Charles III.

“This is a difficult day, but I leave this job honored to have been prime minister of the best country in the world,” Sunak said in his final speech outside 10 Downing Street.

Sunak wished his victorious rival, Labour leader Keir Starmer, all the best: “Whatever our differences in this campaign, he is a decent, public-spirited man who I respect.”

Sunak said he had given the job his all.

Sunak conceded defeat earlier in the morning as vote counts confirmed exit polls that had projected a landslide defeat for his Conservatives to the Labour Party.

After Sunak resigns, Starmer will go to the palace to seek the king’s blessing to form a government. After performing the “kissing of hands,” the new prime minister will head to his official residence, where he is expected to speak.

China says it hopes to work with the UK ‘on the basis of mutual respect’

“Developing a stable and mutually beneficial China-UK relationship is in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and is conducive to both sides responding to global challenges together and promoting world peace and development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Friday.

“We hope to work with the UK to move China-UK relations forward on the right track on the basis of mutual respect and win-win cooperation,” Mao said at a daily press briefing.

China-UK relations have been roiled in the last few years by blocks on Chinese investment in Britain over national security concerns, tensions in the South China Sea and China’s crackdown on democracy and free speech in the former British colony of Hong Kong in violation of its pledge to keep such institutions intact until 2047.

Left-wing disruptor George Galloway loses his seat after only a few months in Parliament

One of the casualties of the Labour Party’s landslide win was a former member.

George Galloway, the leader of the Workers Party of Britain, lost the seat he won only months ago in a special election where he mobilized support against the Labour Party’s stance on Gaza.

Galloway, who did not stay to listen to the result, lost his Rochdale seat to Labour’s Paul Waugh, a former journalist.

Rochdale, like many other northern towns, has a sizable Muslim population.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has faced criticism within Muslim circles over his strong backing for Israel in the wake of the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. He has subsequently shifted his position to call for a ceasefire.

Galloway, a left-wing disruptor, was expelled by Labour in 2003.

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss loses her seat

Liz Truss, the former prime minister whose premiership lasted just 49 days, has lost her lawmaker’s seat in the election.

Truss lost her Norfolk South West seat to Labour by just several hundred votes. Truss quit as prime minister in 2022 after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets.

Several other high-profile and senior Conservative lawmakers also lost their seats, including House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, education secretary Gillian Keegan and former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Australia, New Zealand leaders congratulate Starmer

The leaders of Australia and New Zealand have sent their congratulations to Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on his election victory.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a social media post on X that he looked forward “to working constructively” with the new British government.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Christopher Luxon also took to X to congratulate Starmer, writing: “New Zealand and the UK are great friends and can do so much more together.”

Luxon added his thanks to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “for your service to your nation and friendship to New Zealand.”

Larry the cat seen waiting patiently outside Downing Street

As the U.K. awaits a new prime minister, one feline was also patiently waiting to be let into No. 10 Downing Street.

Larry, Britain’s mouse-catcher in chief and long time resident at the leader’s official residence, was pictured waiting outside the famous black door early Friday.

The tabby cat was not bothered by the large crowd of press photographers waiting outside ahead of the change of power expected later Friday. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to go to King Charles III to tender his resignation, and soon after Labour leader Keir Starmer will meet the monarch to be officially appointed.

Larry was recruited by former Prime Minister David Cameron to tackle rats seen scuttling close to the British leader’s official residence, and entered Downing Street in February 2011.

Starmer: We will put the country first, party second

Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is set to become the first Labour prime minister in 14 years, says his government will always put “country first, party second.”

He said a “mandate like this comes with great responsibility,” and added that his government will be focused on “national renewal.”

“We have to return politics to public service,” he said.

With more than half of all 650 seats counted, Labour looks set to secure one of its biggest ever majorities in the House of Commons.

Starmer is expected to pay a visit to King Charles III later Friday to get the monarch’s permission to form a new government.

Labour wins at least 326 seats, enough to have a majority

Official results show Britain’s Labour Party has won enough seats to have a majority in the UK Parliament and will form the next government.

The party had won 326 of the 650 seats by 5 a.m. Friday as counting continued.

That means leader Keir Starmer will become prime minister and can form a majority government.

“We did it,” he said at a victory party in London. “Change begins now.”

Hope is “shining once again on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back,” Starmer said.

Prime Minister Sunak concedes that Labour has won

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the British people have “delivered a sobering verdict,” and the Labour Party has won the election.

Sunak, who held onto his lawmaker’s seat in North Yorkshire, told those gathered: “The Labour party has won this general election.”

He said he took “responsibility” for his party’s loss, and that he had called Labour leader Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory.

He added that he will head to London in the coming hours, and promised that the transition to Labour will be orderly.

Sunak is expected to go to see King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on Friday to officially resign. After that, Starmer is expected to be driven to the palace to get the king’s permission to form a government.

Labour is way ahead with more than half of all seats counted

With more than half of the 650 seats declared so far, Labour is emerging way ahead of other parties with at least 250 seats.

The governing Conservatives have 44 seats, while the left-of-center Liberal Democrats have won 32 seats.

The hard-right, anti-immigration Reform UK has won 4 seats so far.

The Scottish National Party has four seats, while the Green Party has 1 seat.

Labour suffers in some areas over its Gaza stance

While the Labour Party appears headed for a landslide U.K. election victory, it seems clear that it has suffered in areas with big Muslim communities over its stance on the conflict in Gaza.

A prominent Labour member, Jonathan Ashworth, lost his Leicester South seat in central England to an independent candidate who had Gaza at the heart of his campaign.

Ashworth, who was expected to be appointed to the Cabinet, lost around 20,000 votes when compared to the election of 2019.

Even Labour leader Keir Starmer saw his majority in his Holborn and St. Pancras seat in north London reduced, with more than 7,000 votes going to a pro-Gaza candidate.

After the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas militants, Starmer took a strongly pro-Israel stance and maintained it even as the death toll in Gaza swelled. Many Muslims who had been traditional Labour voters were aghast and have clearly turned to other candidates.

Anti-immigration Reform UK leader Nigel Farage wins a seat in Parliament

Nigel Farage, the leader of the hard-right Reform UK party, has been elected to Parliament.

Farage won the contest in the seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea, becoming a lawmaker at his eighth try after seven failed election attempts.

Partial results show the anti-immigration Reform, successor to the Brexit Party, has taken votes from both the Conservatives and Labour.

Farage said the party was “going to come second in hundreds of constituencies.” It is not yet clear how many seats Reform will win.

He said there is a “massive gap” in the right of British politics, and it was his job to fill it.

“My plan is to build a mass national movement over the course of the next few years,” he said.

Former Labour leader Corbyn holds onto his London seat

Jeremy Corbyn, who led the Labour Party into the general elections of 2017 and 2019, has held onto his seat in north London — but this time as an independent.

Corbyn, who had been suspended from the party following a row over antisemitism, decided to stand as an independent candidate in the Islington North constituency he has represented since 1983.

Corbyn won the seat by nearly 7,000 votes over his Labour opponent. Corbyn had won the seat by more than 26,000 votes at the last election.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps loses his seat

U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps, long a key figure in the Conservative Party, has lost his seat in the general election.

Shapps lost his contest for Welwyn Hatfield, a seat north of London, by nearly 4,000 votes, or by 8 percentage points to his Labour Party opponent Andrew Lewin.

Shapps, 55, is the most senior Cabinet minister to lose their seat so far. He was widely considered to be the government’s most trusted media performers over many years and had been tipped as a potential Conservative leadership candidate to replace Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Labour leader Starmer says voters are ready for change

Labour leader Keir Starmer says “voters have spoken and they are ready for change” as an exit poll points to a landslide win for his party.

Starmer spoke as he won his seat in north London but on a much-reduced majority.

Addressing the audience, he spoke of the need to return politics to “public service” and the need for “change.”

He thanked voters for electing him to serve “my home, where my kids have grown up, where my wife was born.”

“It all starts with you. Change begins in this community,” he said. “You have voted, it is now time for us to deliver.”

Anti-immigration party Reform UK wins its first seat in the election

Reform U.K., the recently formed anti-immigration party, has won its first seat in the general election.

Lee Anderson, the former Conservative deputy chairman who defected to Reform a few months ago, held onto his seat in Ashfield in central England with 43% of the vote.

Reform has posed a serious headache to the governing Conservatives, luring many previously staunch Tory voters with its promises to cut immigration.

The exit poll suggested that the party, which is led by divisive right-wing politician Nigel Farage, could win up to 13 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.

Count Binface makes an appearance at vote counting center

Count Binface, the comedy independent candidate hoping to unseat Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in his seat of Richmond and North Allerton, has appeared at a vote counting center.

The self-described intergalactic space warrior is a satirical character created by comedian David Harvey. He has said his ambition was to conquer “the entire omniverse.” He also said he hoped that his campaign will raise a smile and show that “democracy is alive”.

“There’s something wonderful that in the year of 2024 when so many countries are going to the polls and democracy is under threat like never before, it’s still possible to do what I do,” he said in a recent interview.

Labour’s economic spokeswoman warns of scale of coming challenge

Labour’s Rachel Reeves, who is set to become the first female Treasury chief if her party wins the U.K. election, said she is “under no illusions” about the scale of the challenge she will face.

“The severity of the inheritance from the Conservatives is truly awful,” she told Sky News.

Reeves noted that the U.K.’s debt burden is running at 100% of the country’s national income and the tax burden at a seven-decade high.

She said she “can’t promise to turn everything around straight away.”

Reeves said the driving mission of an incoming Labour government is to kickstart economic growth.

Conservatives lose the first seat they were defending

Britain’s governing Conservative Party has lost its first seat it was defending in the country’s general election.

Robert Buckland, a former justice minister, lost his Swindon South seat in central England after his vote slumped by 25% compared with the last election 2019. Labour’s Heidi Alexander won the seat, returning to Parliament after she resigned in 2018 to take up a position with the mayor of London.

According to the exit poll, the Conservatives are set to lose more than 200 seats and suffer its worst result since 1906.

What to expect in coming hours as ballots get counted by hand

Voting in the U.K. is done the old-school way — no voting machines are used. Instead, voters put a pencil to paper, and all ballot papers are counted manually.

After ballot boxes are opened, the ballot papers in the box are mixed with postal vote ballot papers and the counting begins at counting centers across the U.K.

Several dozen seats are expected to be declared from now until around 0100GMT to 0200GMT – including Labour leader Keir Starmer’s London seat, Holborn and St. Pancras.

From 0200GMT onwards will be the busiest part of the night, with more than 200 seats expected to be declared.

By around 0300GMT, enough results should be known to suggest which party is on course to win.

The first of 650 House of Commons seats is declared

A Labour Party candidate has won the first U.K. seat to report its result in the general election.

Bridget Phillipson, who is Labour’s education spokesperson, won with a majority of 7,169 in the Houghton and Sunderland South seat in the northeast of England from the second-placed candidate.

That’s more than double the majority she won last time the seat was contested in 2019.

The candidate from the recently formed anti-immigration Reform U.K. came second, pushing the candidate from the governing Conservative Party into third.

Phillipson said the result represented a vote for “hope and unity, not decline and division.”

Leading Conservative, Labour members react to exit poll results

Leading members of Britain’s main political parties are reacting to the exit poll suggesting the opposition Labour Party winning a landslide victory and returning to power for the first time since 2010.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner told Sky News that the Conservatives are getting punished by voters for “14 years of the chaos and the scandals and the decline.”

Labour’s national campaign chief, Pat McFadden, said the transformation of his party since its poor showing in the 2019 election has been “remarkable.”

“We have campaigned as a changed Labour Party, ready to change Britain,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the exit poll pointed to a “massacre” for the party.

The projection suggests that the Conservatives will end up with its lowest number of seats in the House of Commons since 1906.

Exit poll: Conservatives set to face historic defeat; anti-immigration Reform UK gains big

Results from Britain’s exit poll suggest that the governing Conservatives are set to have their seats in the 650-seat House of Commons cut down to 131 — the Tories’ worst result in the party’s two-century history and one that would leave the party in disarray.

The exit poll also forecasts the left-of-center Liberal Democrats will take 61 seats, and Nigel Farage’s right-wing, anti-immigration Reform UK, which currently does not have any seats, is set to take 13 seats. The Green Party is expected to take 2.

The Scottish National Party, SNP, are expected to secure 10 seats.

Exit poll suggests Labour is heading for a landslide victory

As polls close across the U.K., an exit poll suggests the Labour Party is headed for a huge majority in Britain’s election.

The poll, released moments after polls closed on Thursday, indicates that Labour leader Keir Starmer will be the country’s next prime minister.

Britain’s exit poll is conducted by pollster Ipsos and asks people at scores of polling stations to fill out a replica ballot showing how they have voted. It usually provides a reliable though not exact projection of the final result.

The exit poll suggested that Labour will win 410 of the House of Commons’ 650 seats, with the Conservatives taking 131 seats.

A key unknown: How will turnout influence the outcome of the UK election?

One of the significant unknowns in Thursday’s U.K election is how turnout will influence the outcome. The number of people who voted won’t be known until after polls close.

The U.K. has 67 million residents and 46 million were registered to vote in the last general election in 2019. Turnout at that time was 67%.

In local elections in May when Conservatives suffered heavy losses in council seats and mayoral offices, turnout averaged 30%, the Institute for Government, an independent think tank, reported.

Conservatives expressed optimism that reports of high turnout Thursday could help them overcome polls that have suggested a widespread Labour victory.

With a double-digit lead in the polls, Labour fears supporters will be complacent and won’t vote. They’ve urged their supporters to go to the polls.

Until polls close in the UK, humans’ canine friends are the winners

If you were watching the news coverage of the U.K. election, you would be forgiven for thinking it has gone to the dogs.

Seemingly every news site had a gallery of images with dogs outside polling stations, patiently waiting for their owners to do their civic duty while the news business fulfilled an obligation of its own to protect the sanctity of elections.

The U.K. has restrictions on what can be reported on election days before the polls close to avoid influencing voters. Unlike the United States, where there is wall-to-wall coverage and analysis, there is no such reporting in Britain.

There are just reports that people are going to the polls, along with photos and footage of the lead candidates entering polling stations — but there is no discussion of their campaign platforms.

Thus, the puppy love.

There was Alfie, a blonde shaggy dog in Chiswick, Arnie a cockapoo wearing a rainbow color bowtie in Liverpool and Tobie, a rare ottherhound, in Norfolk. Those were on Sky News.

On the BBC, there was Lucien, a Bernese mountain dog, lying outside Antrobus Village Hall in Cheshire, Pippin, a fox red Labrador, in the Edgware part of London, and Maui, an Old English sheepdog in Wokingham.

Journalists went the extra mile to show that it wasn’t just pooches at polls — they found at least two horses, a cat, a chicken and a giant snake named Neptune.

A north London borough and Labour stronghold excited about the possibility of change

Voters in the north London borough of Islington started to gather even before the polling station opened as the historically Labour Party stronghold tantalizingly considers the possibility of a change in government after 14 years of Conservative rule.

James Erskine, who works in advertising, said he was unable to forgive Conservative austerity policies that he believes have decimated public services, such as the National Health Service. Even so, he wanted to vote for something rather than against something.

“I think nothing has gone well in the last 14 years, and I think it’s really important that the right result happens,’’ he told The Associated Press. “I was even excited that we might get a different opposition to the big two parties. I don’t actually think that will happen, but that would be amazing. I just see this as the potential for a seismic shift, and that’s what I’m hoping for.”

Erskine did not disclose who he voted for

England’s team base at Euro 2024 is a ‘politics-free zone’

England’s team base at the European Championship soccer tournament in Germany is a “politics-free zone” on election day, defender John Stones says.

Stones said he had no clue about his teammates’ voting intentions.

“I couldn’t tell you about the other lads. I’m sure it it’ll be something that’ll get brought up tonight, later on, but I couldn’t tell you who they vote for. They keep it close to their chests,” he said.

That’s a stark contrast to France’s players, who have been vocal about a hard-fought parliamentary election campaign at home.

England is preparing for its Euro 2024 quarterfinal match against Switzerland on Saturday

Staunchly conservative voters in Clacton weigh a switch to the Reform Party

LONDON — Britain is going to the polls Thursday at a time when public dissatisfaction is running high over a host of issues.

From the high cost of living and a stagnating economy to a dysfunctional state health care system and crumbling infrastructure, some disillusioned voters have turned to the populist Reform Party.

Its divisive leader Nigel Farage, who championed Brexit, is drawing growing numbers of Conservative voters with his pledge to “take our country back.”

Opponents have long accused Farage of fanning racist attitudes toward migrants and condemned what they call his scapegoat rhetoric. They say that underfunding of schools, hospitals and housing under governments on the right and left is the problem, not migrants.

Polls show Farage has a comfortable lead in Clacton-on-Sea — a town on England’s southeast coast where many older, white voters used to staunchly support the governing Conservatives.

It’s unclear how much impact his party will have in capturing seats and Parliament, though it could be a spoiler by siphoning votes from Conservative candidates.

Farage, who has lost seven campaigns for Parliament, was the rare party leader who didn’t go to the polls Thursday. He voted in advance by mail.

All voters must bring ID for the first time in a general election

All voters in the U.K. were required to bring identification with them Thursday for the first time in a general election.

A change in the law has required voters in England, Scotland and Wales to prove their identity since 2023 by showing a passport, drivers’ license and more than a dozen other acceptable forms of ID.

Voters in Northern Ireland have had to show identification since 1985, and photo ID since 2003.

The Elections Act introduced by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022 was enforced, ironically, earlier this year when Johnson tried to vote without ID in a local election in South Oxfordshire.

He was turned away, but returned later with his identification and cast his vote.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, who urged voters to take ‘a leap of faith,’ votes in his suburban London district

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey voted Thursday in an election that could see his left-of-center party gain a larger share of seats in Parliament.

Davey’s Lib Dems have been trying to make inroads in areas of southern England where Conservatives are vulnerable as their party has plunged in popularity after 14 years in power.

Davey’s stunt-filled campaign has been a publicity bonanza. He has tumbled off a paddleboard into a lake, braved roller coaster rides and bungee jumped, urging voters to take “a leap of faith.”

The party had 15 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons when Parliament was dissolved in May.

The party has vowed to improve Britain’s ailing health and social care systems, including introducing free nursing care at home. It wants to lower voting age to 16 and rejoin the European Union’s single market.

UK communities locked in tight contests as traditional party loyalties come second

Communities all over the United Kingdom such as Henley-on-Thames are locked in tight contests in which traditional party loyalties come second to more immediate concerns about the economy, crumbling infrastructure and the National Health Service.

Though it has traditionally been a Conservative Party stronghold, the area known for its famous regatta may change its stripes. The Conservatives, which took power during the depths of the global financial crisis, have been beset by sluggish growth, declining public services and a series of scandals, making them easy targets for critics on the left and right.

“This is a blue (Conservative) town, always has been,’’ said Sam Wilkinson, a restaurant manager. “My generation won’t necessarily vote blue, not necessarily, but at the same time who else do you vote for? It’s really tricky. I’m just kind of looking out for my kids really, hopefully more money into education and the arts.”

Residents steadily streamed to the polling station, including Patricia Mulcahy, who is retired.

“The younger generation are far more interested in change,’’ she said. “So, I think whatever happens in Henley, in the country, there will be a big shift. But whoever gets in, they’ve got a heck of a job ahead of them. It’s not going to be easy.”

Labour’s ex-leader Corbyn casts vote as an independent candidate

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is running for reelection as an independent, posted a photo of himself voting Thursday in his North London district.

Corbyn, a socialist who has won his seat for Labour at every general election since 1983, was suspended from the party and barred from running by Labour after his leadership faced antisemitism allegations.

He became deeply unpopular after Labour in 2019 suffered its worst defeat since 1935.

Keir Starmer was chosen as leader to replace Corbyn and he has rebuilt it and moved it closer to the center. Pollsters and politicians expect Labour to win the largest number of seats.

Labour’s Keir Starmer, favored to win power, votes in London

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer voted Thursday in an election that is widely expected to return his party to power for the first time in 14 years and make him prime minister.

Starmer, who has warned his supporters not to take the election for granted despite polls and politicians predicting a landslide, voted in his London neighborhood.

Pollsters have given Labour a double-digit lead since before the campaign began six weeks ago.

Starmer has spent his time criss-crossing Britain and urging voters to vote for change.

He has pledged to revive a sluggish economy, invest in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and repair the broken National Health Service, which his center-left party founded in 1945.

Scottish National Party leader, fighting Labour wave, casts his vote

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney has voted as his party fights to hold off a wave of support from the rival Labour Party.

Swinney, who became the SNP’s third leader in just over a year in May, has tried to bring stability to a party in turmoil.

Scotland’s long-serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon abruptly stepped down last year during a campaign finance investigation that eventually led to criminal charges against her husband, who was the party’s chief executive.

Swinney joined the party at 15 years old, and previously led the party from 2000 to 2004.

Swinney has said that if his party wins a majority of seats in Scotland he will try to open Scottish independence negotiations with the London-based U.K. government. He wants to rejoin the European Union and the European single market.

Sunak votes in his Northern constituency

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cast his ballot Thursday in a national election that will determine if he remains in office.

Sunak, who tried to bring stability to a Conservative Party in chaos when he was picked as leader in October 2022, spent the past six weeks trying to persuade voters across the U.K. to give his party another term after 14 years in power.

Pollsters and politicians widely expect the Labour Party to win for the first time since 2005.

Sunak’s campaign got off to a soggy start when he called the snap election in a downpour outside 10 Downing Street in May.

He had been expected to wait until the fall, when expected improvements in the economy would give him a better chance.

Sunak voted shortly after polls opened in his constituency in Yorkshire in northern England.

Polls open in vote that could end Tories’ 14 years in power

British voters are picking a new government on Thursday after polls opened at 7 a.m. for a parliamentary election that is widely expected to bring the opposition Labour Party to power.

Against a backdrop of economic malaise, mounting distrust of government institutions and a fraying social fabric, a fractious electorate is delivering its verdict on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party, which has been in power since 2010.

The center-left Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, has had a steady and significant lead in opinion polls for months, but Labour leaders have warned against taking the election result for granted, worried their supporters will stay home.

Sunak, for his part, has tried to rally his supporters, saying on Sunday that he still thought the Conservatives could win and defending his record on the economy.

By The Associated Press