Election 2010: First hung parliament in UK for decades

Britain has its first hung parliament since 1974: the Conservatives are the largest party, but Gordon Brown has returned to Downing Street...

The results are in and Britain has its first hung parliament since 1974 – the Conservatives have won 290 seats so far but can not now reach the 326 needed to win an overall majority.

Leader David Cameron said Labour had ‘lost its mandate to govern‘. Gordon Brown, whose party has 247 seats, has returned to Downing Street with aides. Both may now turn to Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems, who have so far won 51 seats, to try to form a coalition government.

The BBC projection suggests David Cameron’s Conservatives will have 306 seats. If there are 10 Unionists elected in Northern Ireland then Mr Cameron might be able to command 316 – probably still slightly too few for him to be sure of winning a Queen’s Speech.

But Labour and the Lib Dems together would have 317 seats, according to the BBC figures, which even with three SDLP MPs would still leave them at 320 – again a few votes short of a majority.

In other election night news, the Greens have gained their first MP at Westminster – party leader Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion. Around the country, there were angry scenes and calls for an inquiry after people were turned away from polling stations as long queues formed ahead of the 2200 BST voting deadline.

Senior Labour figures have said that under the rules of Britain’s constitution, the sitting prime minister in a hung parliament makes the first attempt at forming a ruling coalition.

But Nick Clegg – whose party have not performed as well as expected after a poll surge for the Lib Dems after the first live TV debate – cautioned other leaders against ‘rushing into making claims or taking decisions,’ and admitted it had been a ‘disappointing night.’

Interestingly, according to our website poll yesterday Marie Claire readers have come out in support of Mr Clegg with the results standing at: Conservatives 33%; Labour 27%; Liberal Democrats 39%.

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