News

The Latest: Labour chief Ed Miliband calls it 'very disappointing' vote; Conservatives strong

LONDON – 7 a.m. (0700 GMT, 2 a.m. EDT)

With 508 of 650 constituencies reporting results Friday morning in Britain’s parliamentary election, the Conservatives were leading with 222 seats, according to election officials.

The opposition Labour Party has won 203 seats and the Scottish National Party 55. Eight seats have gone to the Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland, while the Liberal Democrats won six seats and the U.K. Independence Party earned one. Thirteen seats went to other smaller parties.

An exit poll has predicted that the Conservatives will be the top party in Thursday’s vote, winning 316 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.

___

6:40 a.m. (0540 GMT, 1:40 a.m. EDT)

Labour leader Ed Miliband has acknowledged that his party is facing likely defeat in Britain’s general election.

He says “This has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour Party.”

Miliband won his own Doncaster North seat, but Labour looks set to win fewer than the 256 seats it held before the election. It has been all but wiped out in Scotland, a former stronghold, as voters defected in droves to the Scottish National Party.

Miliband said “we haven’t made the gains that we’d wanted in England and Wales and in Scotland we have seen a surge of nationalism overwhelm our party.”

He said whoever is prime minister in the next government would face the challenge of uniting Britain after a divisive campaign.

___

6:25 a.m. (0525 GMT, 1:25 a.m. EDT)

George Galloway, one of Britain’s most colorful and controversial figures, has lost his Bradford West seat to the Labour Party.

Galloway, an outspoken critic of Israel and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, won the seat from Labour in a 2012 special election. But some locals accused the left-wing firebrand — who once saluted Saddam Hussein and has appeared on a reality-TV show pretending to be a cat — of spending little time in Bradford, which has a large Muslim population.

The candidate from the tiny Respect Party lost by a wide margin to Labour’s Naz Shah after a bitter campaign in the northern England city. Shah is a political newcomer who has overcome childhood poverty, a teenage forced marriage and the imprisonment of her mother for killing an abusive partner.

Shah had urged voters to reject Galloway because “we do not need a one-man Messiah to tell us how to come and fix up Bradford.”

___

6:15 a.m. (0515 GMT, 1:15 a.m. EDT)

Prime Minister David Cameron has easily won his Witney seat in southern England, and stopped just short for declaring overall election victory for his Conservatives.

He told voters “this is clearly a very strong night for the Conservative Party.”

Results seem to support an exit poll’s prediction the Tories will be the biggest seat in the House of Commons and may even win a majority of seats.

A Conservative-led government would face a divided Britain, with the pro-independence Scottish National Party holding almost all the seats north of the border. Cameron has vowed to counter the rise of Scottish nationalism with more powers for Scotland and Wales within the United Kingdom.

He says “I want my party, and I hope a government that I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost — the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom.”

___

5:40 a.m. (0440 GMT, 12:40 a.m. EDT)

Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg managed to hang on to his seat in Parliament when results were announced Friday morning, but admitted that his party had suffered a terrible string of setbacks in Britain’s general election.

The party that had been the junior partner in a Conservative-led government lost most of its seats. An exit poll suggested it would win perhaps 10 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons — down from 56 — and several major party figures were ousted by voters.

After his own win, a woeful Clegg said “It is now painfully clear this has been a cruel and punishing night for the Liberal Democrats.” Clegg, who has served as the U.K.’s deputy prime minister for the last five years, hinted that he would be discussing his party leadership with colleges later Friday.

___

5 a.m. (0400 GMT, midnight EDT)

He’s back. London Mayor Boris Johnson has once again won a seat in parliament, this time representing voters in the Uxbridge and Ruislip South district, as Conservative Party candidates did much better than expected in Britain’s election.

The shaggy-haired mayor, seen as a possible future Conservative Party leader, had previously represented Henley.

“The people of Britain, after a long and exhausting campaign, have finally spoken,” he said early Friday. “They have decisively rejected any attempt to take this country back to the 1970s. They want us to go forward with the sensible, moderate policies that have led to a sustained economic recovery.”

Johnson will do both jobs until voters choose a new London mayor in 2016.