In Depth

Election night: definitive hour-by-hour guide

What to look out for as the results trickle in, including key seats and trends

The big day is finally here. After all the speeches, door knocking and TV interviews, voters are heading to their local polling stations to choose the UK’s next government.

The race looks set to be tight, with polls suggesting that while a Tory majority is the most likely outcome, a hung parliament is still a possibility.

If you’re planning to stay up to follow the election night drama, here are the key times and seats to watch.

10pm - the exit poll

Britain’s 50,000-odd polling stations will close their doors at 10pm and the BBC, ITV and Sky News will simultaneously reveal the results of their joint exit poll.

In a general election first, the BBC is also going to put constituency-level exit poll projections on its website, with seats called for each party ranked on a “likely”, “possible” or “too close to call” basis.

The Week will be publishing the results of the exit poll here.

11pm - early results

The first result of the night could land within little more than an hour of polls closing, as Sunderland and Newcastle stage their traditional race to get out the earliest declaration.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central , which looks set to declare first, is a Labour seat, held by Chi Onwurah with a 14,937 majority. But with Tories having boosted their vote share in the constituency in 2017, this seat could be one to watch.

Midnight - calm before the storm

The political pundits will have time to pause for thought around midnight following a flurry of early results from the Northeast - including from a number of Brexit-supporting Labour seats that will give an insight into how Jeremy Corbyn’s policy has gone down.

Expect lots of chat as analysts compare the exit poll findings against the early results, while politicians will be coming under pressure to comment on how the night is panning out so far.

1am - will the “red wall” hold?

The “red wall” refers to a string of traditionally Labour but heavily Leave-voting seats in the Midlands and the North.

At around 1am, Northern Labour-held seats including Darlington, Workington and Wigan should be ready to declare. These constituencies largely voted to leave to EU and have been heavily targeted by the Tory campaign. If they fall, they could provide a very early indicator of an incoming Tory majority, but if they hold, Corbyn’s Downing Street dreams may still be alive.

Read the four things that would have to happen for Labour to win here.

2am - Brexit Party takes centre stage

The Brexit Party look unlikely to win anywhere but Hartlepool, where MEP and party chair Richard Tice is running the Labour candidate close in the Leave-supporting heartland. Hartlepool should announce at around 2pm in an acid test of the Brexit Party’s impact.

Elsewhere, Putney should reveal its results at around the same time. If Labour takes the seat, it could be a sign that the party is gaining ground nationwide.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the polls suggest that the Labour MP for North West Durham, Laura Pidcock, is now defending a marginal seat despite winning a majority of almost 9,000 in 2017 - meaning we could be in for a “Portillo moment”.

Meanwhile, Tory strategists will breathe a sigh of relief if the Conservatives can keep seats such as Angus, Moray, and Aberdeen South.

3am - has the “red wall” survived? And Raab’s moment of reckoning

By 3am, we should have a good idea of whether the “red wall” has held. Other indicator seats set to declare between 3am and 4am include Ashfield, Bishop Auckland, Bolsover and Great Grimsby.

This could also be the moment that two of the Brexiteer faction’s big beasts fall, with Dominic Raab and Iain Duncan Smith likely to find out whether their constituents have opted to oust them. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson’s seat is hanging in the balance too, after the Scottish National Party threw the kitchen sink at claiming power in her East Dunbartonshire constituency.

But few are expecting Jeremy Corbyn to get any unpleasant shocks when the results are delivered for his Islington North seat.

Which MPs are most at risk? Read more here.

4am - north of the border

Writing in The Guardian, University of Manchester politics professor Rob Ford says: “Scotland is crucial to Tory hopes: they have 13 seats to defend after surging here in 2017, and every successful Scottish defence is one less gain needed elsewhere.”

With a string of Scottish seats set to declare between 4am and 5am, a clearer picture of the Conservative’s wider chances of a majority should be emerging as morning approaches.

Find out how Scotland could decide the general election here.

4:30am - bit of bother for Boris?

If the SNP have thrown the kitchen sink at ousting Swinson, Labour has thrown the whole kitchen at beating the prime minister in his own backyard.

Johnson is defending a majority of just 5,034 in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and will learn his fate at around 4:30am.

Will Boris Johnson resign if he loses his seat? Find out here.

5am-7am - the closing stages

In a symbol of how the pro-Remain vote has manifested, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers and fellow Tory Zac Goldsmith could both lose their respective seats in Chipping Barnet and Richmond Park.

At approximately 6am, we will also find out how the former Tory rebels now standing as independents have fared. Independent Group for Change leader Anna Soubry is standing in Broxtowe, former attorney general Dominic Grieve is seeking re-election in Beaconsfield, and ex-justice secretary David Gauke is fighting for the South West Hertfordshire seat.

Could this election mark the rise of the independent MP?

7am - what next?

This knife-edge election could see Johnson marching back into Downing Street on Friday with a majority for his Brexit deal. But a mad scramble to form some sort of minority government isn’t out of the question either.

Whatever happens, The Week will have all the analysis and reaction of the results.


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