With Jim and Alex on frontline duties, Helen Warrell, who has helped steer the FT’s online election coveage, will man this blog. Jim, Alex and others will contribute. Follow the news, drama and tension of the unfolding result.
12.05: As the clock has struck noon, we are going to take a 10-minute rest. In the meantime, Robert Shrimsley, writer of the armchair election, has written a post, which will appear above very shortly. We will be back soon…
11.59 HW: An ongoing tussle on electoral reform as both major parties continue to woo the Lib Dems: Charlie Whelan, former press secretary to Gordon Brown, says he is “sure” that Labour will offer the Lib Dems proportional representation as an incentive to form a Lib-Lab coalition. Meanwhile Conservative sources tell the BBC that Cameron “hasn’t ruled out” the possibility of some sort of electoral reform.
11.51: Jim’s headline of the day goes to The Sun: “Right Wing Brings Down Ukip”. Let’s hope Nigel Farrage is enjoying the joke as much as everyone else…
11.49: As the reality of a hung parliament in the UK general election sinks in, analysts are examining what the broader impact will be on the country. In a video commentary, Chris Giles, economics editor, discusses the difficulties a government of any hue will face.
11.46: A note from Jim:
All eyes are on Gordon Brown to see whether he will do the decent thing and resign today, having been beaten by the Tories on vote share and seats. Yet it’s not exactly in his character to give up in the face of adversity. (Like Rasputin, he has survived countless ministerial resignations and attempted coups).
Brown had hoped to stay on as a caretaker even if Labour came second, at least until an orderly leadership contest in the autumn where he could back Ed Balls. Yet with the chance of another general election later this year, even some MPs usually loyal to Brown now want a swifter leadership contest to end the prospect of him being in charge in a second 2010 election campaign.
11.43: A seat round-up from Johanna:
There are still nearly 30 constituencies to report, but a few key seats to watch include Bethnal Green (currently Respect), Buckingham (Conservative), Norwich North (Labour) and Westmorland (Lib Dem). High voter turnout and controversy over queues at the polls have delayed results around the country.
11.36 HW: Brilliant bluster from Boris Johnson who says that the result has shown the electorate’s ability to “punish all political parties indiscrimitately”. His analysis of the coalition-building process is typically relaxed: “The public will be in favour of anyone who can come up with a Meccano-type solution,” he says.
Boris Johnson’s younger brother, Jo Johnson (formerly of the FT fraternity) won a resounding victory (59.7 per cent of the votes) in Orpington with a 12.2 per cent swing from Lib Dem to Conservatives. So celebrations all round the Johnson clan this morning…
11.28: Johanna has news of the rating agencies’ responses to a likely hung parliament:
The result is “no direct threat” to the country’s AAA rating, Moody’s said today. In recent weeks, markets have been wary of the implications of the political uncertainty of a hung parliament and the effect it may have on economic policy.
11.25 HW: A jubilant but exhausted Sarah Teather advises Nick Clegg to have a “good sleep” before making any decisions about joining a coalition. Paxman and Dimbleby who have also been up all night look as if they are in full, grey-faced agreement.
11.21 HW: The Conservatives have announced that David Cameron will make a statement at 2.30pm on plans to form a “strong and stable” government.
11.19: Robert Shrimsley, the intrepid writer of the armchair election, has given his thoughts on the hung parliament on video. Watch this space for a blog post later this afternoon.
11.12: Here’s Johanna Kassel’s market update:
Sterling and London shares pared losses after Clegg indicated he would be prepared to work with David Cameron and the Tories. Sterling rebounded to around $1.4635 against the dollar.
For more market reaction and insight, join Neil Hume and Bryce Elder and the rest of the Alphaville team for its Markets Live chat.
11.03 HW: Lib Dem Sarah Teather wins Brent Central in an 11 per cent swing away from Labour.
11.03 HW: Finally, confirmation of Labour James Fitzpatrick’s hold against George Galloway’s contest in Poplar and Limehouse. Fitzpatrick won 40 per cent of the vote compared to Galloway’s 17.5 per cent. The contituency saw a 1 per cent swing form Conservative to Labour.
11.01 HW: Seats round-up: the Conservatives are on 291 (up 92), Labour on 250 (down 86) and The Lib Dems on 51 (down 6).
10.59 HW: Here is the link to the full Downing Street statement on coalition-building from Gordon Brown.
10.49 HW: Clegg’s statement is a lot softer than we all expected – Kiran points out that the Lib Dem leader did not make electoral reform a precondition of a coalition with the Tories.
A note from Jim: Clegg appears to be endorsing Cameron – as head of the party with most votes and most seats – putting paid to Labour hopes of clinging on via a coalition.
10.41 HW: Nick Clegg gives his statement: “Last night was a disappointment for the Lib Dems even though more people voted for us than ever before… it seems that when [people] came to vote they decided to stick with what they know best and in a time of economic uncertainty I completely understand that feeling.”
A definitive comment on who the Lib Dems will seek to side with in a coalition: “I said that the party that gets the most votes and the most seats has the right to seek to govern either on its own or by reaching out to other parties. I stick to that, I think it is up to the Conservative party to prove that it is able to govern in the national interest.”
And a renewed pledge to push for electoral reform: “It is abundantly clear that our electoral system is broken… I repeat my assurance that whatever happens, I will continue to argue not only for greater fairness in British society and greater responsibility in the policy-making and for the real reforms we need to fix our broken political system.”
10.25 HW: Respect candidate George Galloway looks set to leave parliament since his attempt to contest Labour in Clement Atlee’s old seat, Poplar and Limehouse, is tipped to have failed. The formal declaration has been pushed back to 11am.
10.25 HW: The prime minister has just given formal authorisation for civil servants to support all parties engaged in coalition talks. Harriet Harman tells the BBC it will be Brown’s “responsibility” to speak to Nick Clegg directly and form a government, in the interests of stability.
10.21 HW: Great excitement on the airwaves as Nick Clegg arrives in London – he is expected to give a statement soon.
10.13 HW: Hello I’m back again to take over from Kiran who has masterfully completed a marathon all-night shift. Just announced, a Conservative gain in Thurrock, Essex: a 6.6 per cent swing from Labour.