Exit poll points to hung Parliament

Richard BatsonExit poll figures show that David Cameron and the Conservatives will be 19 seats short of getting control of Parliament.Richard Batson

Exit poll figures show that David Cameron and the Conservatives will be 21 seats short of getting control of Parliament.

The figures, announced as Big Ben chimed 10pm and the polling stations closed, then updated at just gone 11pm, showed the Tories with 305 seats, Labour 255, and Liberal Democrats 61, with others making up the final 29.

It indicates a major switch between the two long established parties, in line with forecasts that the nation was falling out of love with New Labour - but the loss of three Lib Dem seats flies in the face of the anticipated surge of support for the party after the recent Cleggmania.

The poll was taken from 18,000 people at 130 polling stations across England, Scotland and Wales and shows the Tories still short of the 326 seats needed for a majority and opens the way for a hung parliament - the first in Britain since 1974 - along with the prospect of Gordon Brown still keeping a hand on power, if he can broker a power deal by the Lib Dems.

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Pundits taking an early look into the tea leaves however were warning that such polls can be wildly out, and are based on a uniform swing across the country - when in reality there could be many localised twists and turns ahead during the night which could skew the figures.

A high turnout was looking likely with reports of people queuing to get into polling stations, even just before they closed, and hundreds of late night Manchester voters being turned away as the doors closed.

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