2017 United Kingdom general election
The 2017 United Kingdom general election took place on Thursday 8 June 2017, having been called just under two months earlier by Prime Minister Theresa May on 18 April 2017 after it was discussed in cabinet. Each of the 650 constituencies elected one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons. The governing Conservative Party remained the largest single party in the House of Commons but lost its majority, resulting in the formation of a minority government with a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland.
All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326[n 1] seats needed for a majority
The Conservative Party (which had governed as a senior coalition partner from 2010 and as a single-party majority government from 2015) was defending a working majority of 17 seats against the Labour Party, the official opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 a general election had not been due until May 2020, but a call by Prime Minister Theresa May for a snap election was ratified by the necessary two-thirds vote in a 522–13 vote in the House of Commons on 19 April 2017. May said that she hoped to secure a larger majority in order to "strengthen [her] hand" in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Opinion polls had consistently shown strong leads for the Conservatives over Labour. From a 21-point lead, the Conservatives' lead began to diminish in the final weeks of the campaign. In a surprising result, the Conservative Party made a net loss of 13 seats with 42.4% of the vote (its highest share of the vote since 1983), whilst Labour made a net gain of 30 seats with 40.0% (its highest share since 2001 and the first time the party had gained seats since 1997). This was the closest result between the two major parties since February 1974, and their highest combined vote share since 1970. The Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats, the third- and fourth-largest parties, both lost vote share; media coverage characterised the election as a return to two-party politics. The SNP, which won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at the previous general election in 2015, lost 21 seats. The Liberal Democrats made a net gain of four seats. UKIP, the third-largest party in 2015 by number of votes, saw its share of the vote reduced from 12.6% to 1.8% and lost its only seat. Plaid Cymru gained one seat, giving it a total of four seats. The Green Party retained its sole seat, but saw its share of the vote reduced. In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won 10 seats, Sinn Féin won seven, and Independent Unionist Sylvia Hermon retained her seat. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) lost all their seats. The Conservatives were narrowly victorious and remained in power as a minority government, having secured a confidence and supply deal with the DUP.
Negotiation positions following the UK's invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union in March 2017 to leave the EU were expected to feature significantly in the campaign, but did not. The campaign was interrupted by two major terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, with national security becoming a prominent issue in the final weeks of campaigning.
Each parliamentary constituency of the United Kingdom elects one MP to the House of Commons using the "first past the post" system. If one party obtains a majority of seats, then that party is entitled to form the Government, with its leader as Prime Minister. If the election results in no single party having a majority, there is a hung parliament. In this case, the options for forming the Government are either a minority government or a coalition.
The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies was not due to report until 2018, and therefore this general election took place under existing boundaries, enabling direct comparisons with the results by constituency in 2015.
- on the Electoral Register;
- aged 18 or over on polling day;
- a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen;
- a resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years),[n 6] and;
- not legally excluded from voting (for example, a convicted person detained in prison or a mental hospital, or unlawfully at large if he/she would otherwise have been detained, or a person found guilty of certain corrupt or illegal practices) or disqualified from voting (peers sitting in the House of Lords).
Individuals had to be registered to vote by midnight twelve working days before polling day (22 May). Anyone who qualified as an anonymous elector had until midnight on 31 May to register.[n 7] A person who has two homes (such as a university student with a term-time address but lives at home during holidays) may be registered to vote at both addresses, as long as they are not in the same electoral area, but can vote in only one constituency at the general election.
On 18 May, The Independent reported that more than 1.1 million people between 18 and 35 had registered to vote since the election was announced on 18 April. Of those, 591,730 were under the age of 25.
Date and cost of the electionEdit
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 introduced fixed-term Parliaments to the United Kingdom, with elections scheduled every five years since the general election on 7 May 2015. This removed the power of the Prime Minister, using the royal prerogative, to dissolve Parliament before its five-year maximum length. The Act permits early dissolution if the House of Commons votes by a supermajority of two-thirds of the entire membership of the House.
On 18 April 2017, the Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would seek an election on 8 June, despite previously ruling out an early election. A House of Commons motion to allow this was passed on 19 April, with 522 votes for and 13 against, a majority of 509. The motion was supported by the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, while the SNP abstained. Nine Labour MPs, one SDLP MP and three independents (Sylvia Hermon and two former SNP MPs, Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson) voted against the motion.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn supported the early election, as did Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and the Green Party. The SNP stated that it was in favour of fixed-term parliaments, and would abstain in the House of Commons vote. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones criticised May for being opportunistic in the timing of the election, motivated by the then strong position of the Conservative Party in the opinion polls.
On 25 April, the election date was confirmed as 8 June, with dissolution on 3 May. The government announced that it intended for the next parliament to assemble on 13 June, with the state opening on 19 June.
|18 April||Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention to hold a snap election|
|19 April||MPs voted to dissolve Parliament|
|22 April||Start of pre-election period|
|25 April||Royal Proclamation under section 2(7) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 issued by HM The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister|
|27 April||Second session of Parliament prorogued|
|3 May||Formal dissolution of Parliament (in order for the election to take place on 8 June) and official start of 'short' campaigning|
|3 May||Royal Proclamation was issued summoning a new UK Parliament|
|4 May||Local elections (these were already scheduled, and were not part of the general election)|
|11 May||Deadline (4pm) for the delivery of candidate nomination papers|
|11 May||Deadline (5pm) for the publication of Statements of Persons Nominated (or 4 pm on 12 May if objections were received)|
|11 May||Earliest date returning officers could issue poll cards and postal ballot packs|
|22 May||Last day the public was able to register to vote (unless an anonymous elector)|
|23 May||Deadline (5pm) to apply for a postal vote/postal proxy vote|
|31 May||Deadline (5pm) to apply for a proxy vote, and last day to register to vote as an anonymous elector[n 7]|
|8 June||Polling day (polling stations opened at 7 am and closed at 10 pm, or once voters present in a queue at or outside the polling station at 10 pm had cast their vote). Counting of votes started no later than 2 am on 9 June.|
|13 June||Parliament re-assembled|
|21 June||State Opening of Parliament (initially planned for 19 June)|
The cost to the taxpayer of organising the election was £140 million – slightly less than the EU referendum, of which £98 million was spent on administrative costs, and £42.5 million was spent on campaign costs.
Parties and candidatesEdit
Most candidates were representatives of a political party registered with the Electoral Commission. Candidates not belonging to a registered party could use an "independent" label, or no label at all.
The leader of the party commanding a majority of support in the House of Commons is the person who is called on by the monarch to form a government as Prime Minister, while the leader of the largest party not in government becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Other parties also form shadow ministerial teams. The leaders of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the DUP are not MPs; hence, they appoint separate leaders in the House of Commons.
The Conservative Party and the Labour Party have been the two biggest parties since 1922, and have supplied all Prime Ministers since 1935. Both parties changed their leader after the 2015 election. David Cameron, who had been the leader of the Conservative Party since 2005 and Prime Minister since 2010, was replaced in July 2016 by Theresa May following the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union. Jeremy Corbyn replaced Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in September 2015, and was re-elected leader in September 2016.
While the Liberal Democrats and their predecessors had long been the third-largest party in British politics, they returned only 8 MPs in 2015 (having been part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition from 2010 until 2015)—49 fewer than at the previous election. Tim Farron became the Liberal Democrat leader in July 2015, following the resignation of Nick Clegg. Led by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP stands only in Scotland; it won 56 of 59 Scottish seats in 2015. UKIP, then led by Nigel Farage, who was later replaced by Diane James and then by Paul Nuttall in 2016, won 12.7% of the vote in 2015 but gained only one MP, Douglas Carswell, who left the party in March 2017 to sit as an independent. After securing 3.8% of the vote and one MP in the previous general election, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett was succeeded by joint leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley in September 2016. Smaller parties that contested the 2015 election and chose not to put forward candidates in 2017 included Mebyon Kernow, the Communist Party of Britain, the Scottish Socialist Party and the National Front. The Respect Party, which had previously held seats, was dissolved in 2016 – its former MP George Galloway stood and lost as a independent in Manchester Gorton.
- Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and the Alliance Party contested the 2017 election. Sinn Féin maintained its abstentionist policy. The DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, UUP and APNI were all led by new party leaders, changed since the 2015 election. The Conservatives, Greens and four other minor parties also stood. Despite contesting 10 seats last time, UKIP did not stand in Northern Ireland.
3,304 candidates stood for election, down from 3,631 in the previous general election. The Conservatives stood in 637 seats, Labour in 631 (including jointly with the Co-operative Party in 50) and the Liberal Democrats in 629. UKIP stood in 377 constituencies, down from 624 in 2015, while the Greens stood in 468, down from 573. The SNP contested all 59 Scottish seats and Plaid Cymru stood in all 40 Welsh seats. In Great Britain, 183 candidates stood as independents; minor parties included the Christian Peoples Alliance which contested 31 seats, the Yorkshire Party which stood in 21, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in 12, the British National Party in 10, the Pirate Party in 10, the English Democrats in 7, the Women's Equality Party in 7, the Social Democratic Party in 6, the National Health Action Party in 5 and the Workers Revolutionary Party in 5, while an additional 79 candidates stood for 46 other registered political parties.
In Wales, 213 candidates stood for election. Labour, Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and Liberal Democrats contested all forty seats and there were 32 UKIP and 10 Green candidates. In Scotland, the SNP, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats stood in all 59 seats while UKIP contested 10 seats and the Greens only 3.
Of the 109 candidates in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance contested all 18 seats; the DUP stood in 17, the UUP in 14 and the Conservatives and Greens stood in 7 each. People Before Profit and the Workers' Party contested two seats while Traditional Unionist Voice and the new Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance stood in one each; four independents including incumbent Sylvia Hermon also stood.
Party selection processesEdit
Unlike in previous elections, the timetable of the snap election required parties to select candidates in just under three weeks, to meet the 11 May deadline.
For the Conservatives, local associations in target seats were offered a choice of three candidates by the party's headquarters from an existing list of candidates, without inviting applications; candidates in non-target seats were to be appointed directly by central party offices; and successful MPs were to be confirmed by a meeting of their local parties. This was controversial with local associations. The Labour Party required sitting MPs to express their intention to stand, automatically re-selecting those who did; and it advertised for applications from party members for all remaining seats by 23 April. Having devolved selections to its Scottish and Welsh parties, Labour's National Executive Committee endorsed all parliamentary candidates on 3 May except for Rochdale, the seat of suspended MP Simon Danczuk. On 7 May, Steve Rotheram announced he was standing down as MP for Liverpool Walton following his election as Liverpool City Region mayor, leaving five days to appoint a candidate by close of nominations.
The SNP confirmed on 22 April that its 54 sitting MPs would be re-selected and that its suspended members Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson would not be nominated as SNP candidates; the party subsequently selected candidates for McGarry's and Thomson's former seats, as well as for the three Scottish constituencies it did not win in 2015. The Liberal Democrats had already selected 326 candidates in 2016 and over 70 in 2017 before the election was called. Meetings of local party members from UKIP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru selected their candidates. Parties in Northern Ireland were not believed to have already selected candidates due to the Assembly elections in March.
Former employment minister Esther McVey was selected to contest Tatton. Zac Goldsmith was adopted as the candidate for Richmond Park, having lost the 2016 by-election as an independent in protest against the form of the Government's chosen expert's recommended Heathrow expansion. He had served as the seat's Conservative MP between 2010 and 2016. Ken Clarke, the Father of the House of Commons, had said he would retire in 2020 and so stood again in the 2017 election, leaving it open for him to retire possibly in 2022.
Tony Lloyd, a former Labour MP for Manchester Central who served as Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner from 2012 and interim Mayor of Greater Manchester since 2015 stood in Rochdale.
Those ministers defeated in 2015 who stood for election in their former seats included Vince Cable in Twickenham, Ed Davey in Kingston and Surbiton, Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire, and Simon Hughes in Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
MPs rejected by their partiesEdit
Former Labour MP Simon Danczuk stood as an independent candidate, after being rejected from standing with that party and then withdrawing his party membership. After David Ward, the former MP for Bradford East, was rejected by the Liberal Democrats for anti-semitism, he ran as an independent in that seat.
Electoral alliances and arrangementsEdit
Ahead of the general election, crowdfunding groups such as More United and Open Britain were formed to promote candidates of similar views standing for election, and a "progressive alliance" was proposed. Former UKIP donor Arron Banks suggested a "patriotic alliance" movement. Tactical voting to keep the Conservatives out of government was suggested on social media. Gina Miller, who took the government to court over Article 50, set out plans to tour marginal constituencies in support of pro-EU candidates.
Within a few days of the election being announced, the Green Party of England and Wales and the SNP each proposed to collaborate with Labour and the Liberal Democrats to prevent a Conservative majority government. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron quickly reaffirmed his party's opposition to an electoral pact or coalition with Labour, citing "electorally toxic" Corbyn and concerns over Labour's position on Brexit. On 22 April the Liberal Democrats also ruled out a coalition deal with the Conservatives and SNP. Labour ruled out an electoral pact with the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Greens.
Notwithstanding national arrangements, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP indicated they might not stand in every constituency. The Green Party of England and Wales chose not to contest 22 seats explicitly "to increase the chance of a progressive candidate beating the Conservatives", including South West Surrey, the seat of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in favour of the National Health Action Party candidate. The Scottish Green Party contested just three constituencies. The Liberal Democrats agreed to stand down in Brighton Pavilion. After indicating it might not nominate candidates in seats held by strongly pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, UKIP nominated 377 candidates; it was suggested this would help the Conservatives in marginal seats.
In Northern Ireland, there were talks between the DUP and UUP. Rather than engaging in a formal pact, the DUP agreed not to contest Fermanagh and South Tyrone, while the UUP chose not to stand in four constituencies. Talks took place between Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Green Party in Northern Ireland about an anti-Brexit agreement (the Alliance Party were approached but declined to be involved) but no agreement was reached; the Greens said there was "too much distance" between the parties, Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy was criticised, and the SDLP admitted an agreement was unlikely. On 8 May, the SDLP rejected Sinn Féin's call for them to stand aside in some seats.
Prior to the calling of the general election, the Liberal Democrats gained Richmond Park from the Conservatives in a by-election, a seat characterised by its high remain vote in the 2016 EU referendum. The Conservatives held the safe seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham in December 2016. In by-elections on 23 February 2017, Labour held Stoke-on-Trent Central but lost Copeland to the Conservatives, the first time a governing party had gained a seat in a by-election since 1982.
The general election came soon after the Northern Ireland Assembly election on 2 March. Talks on power-sharing between the DUP and Sinn Féin had failed to reach a conclusion, with Northern Ireland thus facing either another Assembly election, or the imposition of direct rule. The deadline was subsequently extended to 29 June.
Local elections in England, Scotland and Wales took place on 4 May. These saw large gains by the Conservatives, and large losses by Labour and UKIP. Notably, the Conservatives won metro mayor elections in Tees Valley and the West Midlands, areas traditionally seen as Labour heartlands. Initially scheduled for 4 May, a by-election in Manchester Gorton was cancelled; the seat was contested on 8 June along with all the other seats.
All parties suspended campaigning for a time in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing on 22 May. The SNP had been scheduled to release their manifesto for the election but this was delayed. Campaigning resumed on 25 May.
Major political parties also suspended campaigning for a second time on 4 June, following the London Bridge attack. UKIP chose to continue campaigning. There were unsuccessful calls for polling day to be postponed.
The UK's withdrawal from the European Union was expected to be a key issue in the campaign, but featured less than expected. May said she called the snap election to secure a majority for her Brexit negotiations. UKIP support a "clean, quick and efficient Brexit" and, launching his party's election campaign, Nuttall stated that Brexit was a "job half done" and UKIP MPs were needed to "see this through to the end".
Labour had supported Brexit in the previous parliament, but proposed different priorities[clarification needed] for negotiations. The Liberal Democrats and Greens called for a deal to keep the UK in the single market and a second referendum on any deal proposed between the EU and the UK.
The Conservative manifesto committed the party to leaving the single market and customs union, but sought a "deep and special partnership" through a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement. It proposed seeking to remain part of some EU programmes where it would "be reasonable that we make a contribution", staying as a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights over the next parliament, and maintaining the Human Rights Act during Brexit negotiations. Parliament would be able to amend or repeal EU legislation once converted into UK law, and have a vote on the final agreement.
Two major terrorist attacks took place during the election campaign, with parties arguing about the best way to prevent such events. May, after the second attack, focused on global co-operation to tackle Islamist ideology and tackling the use of the internet by terrorist groups.[not in citation given] After the first attack, Labour criticised cuts in police numbers under the Conservative government. Corbyn also linked the Manchester attack to British foreign policy. The Conservatives stated that spending on counter-terrorism for both the police and other agencies had risen.
Former Conservative strategist Steve Hilton said Theresa May should be "resigning not seeking re-election", because her police cuts and security failures had led to the attacks. Corbyn backed calls for May to resign, but said she should be removed by voters. May said that police budgets for counter-terrorism had been maintained and that Corbyn had voted against counter-terrorism legislation.
The Conservative manifesto proposed more government control and regulation of the internet, including forcing internet companies to restrict access to extremist and adult content. After the London attack, Theresa May called for international agreements to regulate the internet. The Conservative stance on regulation of the internet and social media was criticised by Farron and the Open Rights Group.
On 6 June, May promised longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorism and restrictions on the freedom of movement or deportation of militant suspects when it is thought they present a threat but there is not enough evidence to prosecute them, stating that she would change human rights laws to do so if necessary.
The UK's nuclear weapons, including the renewal of the Trident system, also featured in the campaign. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats favoured Trident renewal. Labour's manifesto committed to Trident renewal; Corbyn confirmed renewal would take place under Labour, but declined to explicitly speak in favour. He also declined to answer whether as prime minister he would use nuclear weapons if the UK was under imminent nuclear threat.
Social care became a major election issue after the Conservative Party's manifesto included new proposals, which were subsequently altered after criticism. The previous coalition government had commissioned a review by Andrew Dilnot into how to fund social care. Measures that were seen to disadvantage pensioners were also in the Conservative manifesto: eliminating the pension triple lock and Winter Fuel Payments for all pensioners.
Scottish independence and the future of the UKEdit
The question of a proposed Scottish independence referendum was also thought likely to influence the campaign in Scotland. On 28 March 2017, the Scottish Parliament approved a motion requesting that Westminster pass a Section 30 order giving the Parliament the authority to hold a second independence referendum, suggesting that there had been a "material change" in the terms of the failed independence referendum in 2014 as a result of Britain's vote to leave the EU. The SNP hopes to hold a second independence referendum once the Brexit terms are clear but before Britain leaves the EU; May has said her government would not approve an independence referendum before Brexit negotiations have finished.
University tuition feesEdit
Labour was thought to have attracted a significant number of student voters with its pledge to abolish tuition fees, which stands at £9,250 a year in England, and bring back student grants.
Although Labour and the Liberal Democrats both rejected election pacts with each other and with the Greens and the SNP, and although the Liberal Democrats ruled out a coalition deal with the Conservatives, the Conservatives campaigned on the proposition that such deals might nevertheless occur, using the phrase "coalition of chaos". Similar messages against a potential Lib–Lab pact were credited with securing a Conservative win in the 1992 and 2015 elections. On 19 April, May warned against a Labour–SNP–Lib Dem pact that would "divide our country". After the hung result led the Conservatives to seek DUP support for a minority government, this rhetoric was mocked by opponents.
May launched the Conservative campaign with a focus on Brexit, lower domestic taxes and avoiding a Labour–Lib Dem–SNP "coalition of chaos", but she refused to commit not to raise taxes. On 30 April, May stated that it was her intention to lower taxes if the Conservatives won the general election, but only explicitly ruled out raising VAT. May reiterated her commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on foreign aid.
Theresa May hired Lynton Crosby, the campaign manager for the Conservatives in the 2015 general election, as well as Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina. The Conservative campaign was noted for the use of targeted adverts on social media, in particular attacking Corbyn. The repeated use of the phrase "strong and stable" in the Conservatives' campaigning attracted attention and criticism. Some expressed concern that the party may have restricted media access to the prime minister. While some speculated that an investigation into campaign spending by the Conservatives in the 2015 general election was a factor behind the snap election, on 10 May the Crown Prosecution Service said that despite evidence of inaccurate spending returns, no further action was required.
On 7 May the Conservatives promised to replace the 1983 Mental Health Act, to employ an additional 10,000 NHS mental health workers by 2020 and to tackle discrimination against those with mental health problems. May indicated that the Conservatives would maintain their net immigration target, and promised to implement a cap on "rip-off energy prices", a policy that appeared in Labour's 2015 manifesto. May indicated she would permit a free vote among Conservative MPs on repealing the ban on fox hunting in England and Wales. On 11 May the Conservatives promised above-inflation increases in defence spending alongside its NATO commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.
In a speech in Tynemouth the next day, May said Labour had "deserted" working-class voters, criticised Labour's policy proposals and said Britain's future depended on making a success of Brexit. On 14 May the Conservatives proposed a "new generation" of social housing, paid from the existing capital budget, offering funding to local authorities and changing compulsory purchase rules. The following day May promised "a new deal for workers" that would maintain workers' rights currently protected by the EU after Brexit, put worker representation on company boards, introduce a statutory right to unpaid leave to care for a relative and increase the National Living Wage in line with average earnings until 2022. The proposals were characterised as an "unabashed pitch for Labour voters"; however Labour and the GMB trade union criticised the government's past record on workers' rights.
Unveiling the Conservative manifesto in Halifax on 18 May, May promised a "mainstream government that would deliver for mainstream Britain". It proposed to balance the budget by 2025, raise spending on the NHS by £8bn per year and on schools by £4bn per year by 2022, remove the ban on grammar schools, means-test the winter fuel allowance, replace the state pension "triple lock" with a "double lock" and require executive pay to be approved by a vote of shareholders. It dropped the 2015 pledge to not raise income tax or national insurance contributions but maintained a commitment to freeze VAT. New sovereign wealth funds for infrastructure, rules to prevent foreign takeovers of "critical national infrastructure" and institutes of technology were also proposed. The manifesto was noted for its intervention in industry, lack of tax cuts and increased spending commitments on public services. On Brexit it committed to leaving the single market and customs union while seeking a "deep and special partnership" and promised a vote in parliament on the final agreement. The manifesto was noted for containing similar policies to those found in Labour's 2015 general election manifesto.
The manifesto also proposed reforms to social care in England that would raise the threshold for free care from £23,250 to £100,000, while including property in the means test and permitting deferred payment after death. After attracting substantial media attention, four days after the manifesto launch, May stated that the proposed social care reforms would now include an "absolute limit" on costs in contrast to the rejection of a cap in the manifesto. She criticised the "fake" portrayal of the policy in recent days by Labour and other critics, who had termed it a "dementia tax". Evening Standard editor and former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne called the policy change a "U-turn".
Corbyn launched the Labour campaign focusing on public spending, and argued that services were being underfunded, particularly education. Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer stated that the party would replace the existing Brexit white paper with new negotiating priorities that emphasise the benefits of the single market and customs union, that the residence rights of EU nationals would be guaranteed and that the principle of free movement would have to end. Corbyn emphasised Labour's support for a "jobs-first Brexit" that "safeguards the future of Britain's vital industries".
Labour proposed the creation of four new bank holidays, marking the feast days of the patron saints of the United Kingdom's constituent nations. On 27 April the party pledged to build 1 million new homes over five years. Labour's proposal to employ 10,000 new police officers was overshadowed when Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott cited incorrect figures in an LBC interview on how it would be funded. Labour later stated that the £300 million cost would be funded by reversing cuts to capital gains taxes, although it was noted that the party had also pledged some of those savings towards other expenditure plans.
On 7 May, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell ruled out rises in VAT, and in income tax and employee national insurance contributions for those with earnings below £80,000 per year. The following day Labour outlined plans to ban junk food TV adverts and parking charges at NHS hospitals. Labour promised an additional £4.8 billion for education, funded by raising corporation tax from 19% to 26%.
A draft copy of Labour's manifesto was leaked to the Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph on 10 May. It included pledges to renationalise the National Grid, the railways and the Royal Mail, and create publicly owned energy companies. The draft was noted for including commitments on workers' rights, a ban on fracking, and the abolition of university tuition fees in England. The draft manifesto included a commitment to the Trident nuclear deterrent, but suggested a future government would be "extremely cautious" about using it. The next day Labour's Clause V meeting endorsed the manifesto after amendments from shadow cabinet members and trade unions present.
In a speech at Chatham House on 12 May, Corbyn set out his foreign policy, saying he would reshape Britain's foreign relations, avoid the use of nuclear weapons, and while Labour supported Trident renewal he would initiate a defence review in government. Corbyn stated that he would halt all weapons sales from the UK to Saudi Arabia citing the violations of human rights in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. After the June 2017 London Bridge attack, Corbyn said that a conversation should take place "with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology".
On 14 May, Labour revealed plans to extend stamp duty by introducing a financial transactions tax, which McDonnell claimed would raise up to £5.6bn per year. The next day Corbyn set out plans to spend £37bn on the NHS in England over a five-year parliament, including £10bn on IT upgrades and building repairs.
Launching its manifesto on 16 May, Labour revealed it would nationalise the water industry, provide 30 hours per week of free childcare for two to four-year-olds, charge companies a levy on annual earnings above £330,000, lower the 45p income tax rate threshold to £80,000 per year, and reintroduce the 50p tax rate for those earning more than £123,000 per year. Labour said it would raise an additional £48.6bn in tax revenue per year and insisted its policies were fully costed, though it was noted no costings were provided for its nationalisation pledges. Compared to the leaked draft, the manifesto was noted for toughening Labour's position on defence and Trident, confirming that outside the EU free movement would have to end, qualifying support for airport expansion, and clarifying the party's stance on Israel-Palestine, as well as other changes. After initial confusion, Labour clarified it would not reverse the government's freeze on most working-age benefits.
In an interview following the manifesto launch, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said victory for Labour in the general election would be "extraordinary" and that winning just 200 seats (compared to 229 seats held at the time) would be a "successful" result; the following morning he clarified he was now "optimistic" about Labour's chances.
The SNP, keen to maintain its position as the third-largest party in the House of Commons, made the need to protect Scotland's interests in the Brexit negotiations a central part of its campaign. The SNP manifesto called for a vote on independence to be held "at the end of the Brexit process", set out "anti-austerity" plans to invest £118bn in UK public services over the next five years, pledged to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour and called for Scotland to have control over immigration and to remain in the EU single market after Brexit. With the polls closing, Nicola Sturgeon told the Today programme that the SNP could support a Labour government "on an issue-by-issue basis" in the event of a hung parliament and she would be open to forming a "progressive alternative to a Conservative government".
Central themes of the Liberal Democrat campaign were an offer of a referendum on any eventual Brexit deal and a desire for the UK to stay in the single market. The party reportedly targeted seats which had voted to remain in the EU, such as Twickenham, Oxford West and Abingdon, and Vauxhall. Bob Marshall-Andrews, a Labour MP from 1997 to 2010, announced he would support the Liberal Democrats.
The party reported a surge in membership after the election was called, passing 100,000 on 24 April, having grown by 12,500 in the preceding week. The party also reported raising £500,000 in donations in the first 48 hours after May's announcement of an early election.
An early issue raised in the campaign was Tim Farron's views, as a Christian, regarding gay sex and LGBT rights. After declining to state whether he thought gay sex was a sin, Farron affirmed that he believed neither being gay nor having gay sex are sinful.
The party proposed raising income tax by 1p to fund the NHS, and maintaining the triple-lock on the state pension. The Liberal Democrats also promised an additional £7 billion to protect per-pupil funding in education; they said it would be partly funded by remaining in the EU single market. The party pledged on 11 May to accept 50,000 refugees from Syria over five years, with Farron saying that the £4.3 billion costs would over time be repaid in taxes by those refugees that settle in Britain.
On 12 May the party revealed plans to legalise cannabis and extend paid paternity leave. Farron proposed financial incentives for graduates joining the armed forces and committed to NATO's 2% of GDP defence spending target. The next day the Liberal Democrats promised to end the cap on public-sector pay increases and repeal the Investigatory Powers Act. On 16 May the Liberal Democrats proposed an entrepreneurs' allowance, to review business rates and to increase access to credit.
Policies emphasised during their manifesto launch on 17 May included a second referendum on a Brexit deal with the option to remain a member of the EU, discounted bus passes for 16- to 21-year-olds, the reinstatement of Housing Benefit for 18- to 21-year-olds, a £3bn plan to build 300,000 new houses a year by 2022 and support for renters to build up equity in their rented properties.
Paul Nuttall announced that UKIP's manifesto would seek to ban the burqa, outlaw sharia law, impose a temporary moratorium on new Islamic schools and require annual checks against female genital mutilation (FGM) for high-risk girls. In response to the proposed burqa ban UKIP's foreign affairs spokesperson James Carver resigned, labelling the policy "misguided".
Despite losing all 145 of the seats it was defending in the 2017 local elections (but gaining one from Labour in Burnley), Nuttall insisted voters would return to UKIP in the general election. On 8 May UKIP proposed a net migration target of zero within five years.
|← 2015 debates||2017||Next debates →|
Within hours of the election being announced, Corbyn, Farron and Sturgeon called for televised debates. The Prime Minister's office initially opposed the idea. On 19 April the BBC and ITV announced they planned to host leaders' debates, as they had done in the 2010 and 2015 elections, whether or not May took part. Labour subsequently ruled out Corbyn taking part in television debates without May.
Broadcaster Andrew Neil separately interviewed the party leaders in The Andrew Neil Interviews on BBC One, starting on 22 May with Theresa May. The 2017 Manchester Arena bombing led to interviews with Nuttall, Farron, Sturgeon and Corbyn to be rescheduled. ITV Tonight also ran a series of programmes with the major party leaders.
Sky News and Channel 4 hosted an election programme on 29 May where May and Corbyn were individually interviewed by Jeremy Paxman after taking questions from a studio audience. The BBC held two debates to which all seven main party leaders were invited, on 31 May in Cambridge and 6 June in Manchester; both May and Corbyn stated they would not attend the 31 May debate. May said that she had already debated Corbyn many times in parliament, and that she would be meeting the public instead. Corbyn announced on the day that he would attend the debate in Cambridge, calling on May to do the same. Instead Amber Rudd appeared for the Conservatives.
The BBC hosted separate debates for the English regions, and for both Scotland and Wales, and also a Question Time special with May and Corbyn separately answering questions from voters on 2 June, chaired by David Dimbleby. Sturgeon and Farron were expected to do the same on 4 June, but after the 2017 London Bridge attack it was rescheduled to 5 June and instead presented by Nick Robinson. The BBC also hosted two back-to-back episodes of a special election programme titled Election Questions on 4 June, first in Bristol with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley followed by Nuttall, and second in Swansea with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. The party leaders were individually questioned by a studio audience.
STV planned to host a live TV debate in Glasgow with four Scottish party leaders on 24 May, but it was postponed, owing to the Manchester Arena bombing. The debate was rescheduled for Tuesday 6 June.
|United Kingdom general election debates, 2017|
|Date||Organisers||Venue||Invitees||P Present S Surrogate NI Non-invitee A Absent invitee|
|Cons.||Labour||SNP||Lib. Dem.||Plaid Cymru||Green||UKIP|
|16 May||ITV Wales||Cardiff||Welsh leaders||P
|18 May||ITV||dock10, MediaCityUK||National leaders||A||A||P
|21 May||BBC Scotland||Edinburgh||Scottish leaders||P
|29 May||Sky News
|Isleworth, London||National leaders||P
|30 May||BBC Wales||Cardiff||Welsh leaders||S
|30 May||BBC English Regions||Various||English regional||P
|31 May||BBC||Senate House, Cambridge||National leaders||S
|University of York, York||National leaders||P
|Bristol and Swansea||National leaders||NI||NI||NI||NI||P
|5 June||UTV||Belfast||Northern Ireland||Nigel Dodds (DUP), Michelle O'Neill (SF), Robin Swann (UUP), Colum Eastwood (SDLP) and Naomi Long (APNI)|
|6 June||STV||Glasgow||Scottish leaders||P
|6 June||BBC||Manchester||National leaders||S
|6 June||BBC||Belfast||Northern Ireland leaders||Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP), John O'Dowd (SF), Robin Swann (UUP), Colum Eastwood (SDLP) and Naomi Long (APNI)|
In the 12 months leading up to the election, the Conservatives spent £18.5m, Labour spent £11m and the Liberal Democrats spent £6.8m.
Newspapers, organisations and individuals endorsed parties or individual candidates for the election. For example, the main national newspapers gave the following endorsements:
National daily newspapersEdit
|Newspapers||Endorsement||Notes||2017 circulation (June)||Link|
|Daily Express||Conservative Party||386,297|||
|Daily Mail||Conservative Party||1,454,073|||
|Daily Mirror||Labour Party||On election day, urged its readers to vote for whoever would beat the Conservatives in their constituency.||687,000|||
|The Daily Telegraph||Conservative Party||467,601|||
|Financial Times||Conservative Party||58,600 (UK circ.)|||
|The Guardian||Labour Party||Prioritised tactical voting against the Conservatives, including votes for Liberal Democrats and Greens.||154,010|||
|Various (Scotland)||In Scotland: supported opposition to the Conservatives, either SNP or Labour.||[A percentage of circulation statistic above]|||
|The Independent||None||Backed Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Keir Starmer to negotiate Brexit. Supported unionist candidates in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.||N/A|||
|The Sun||Conservative Party||1,617,152|||
|The Times||Conservative Party||445,737|||
National Sunday newspapersEdit
|Newspaper||Endorsement||Notes||2017 circulation (Jan.)||Link|
|The Mail on Sunday||Conservative Party||1,257,984|||
|The Observer||None||Endorsed voting against the Conservatives and for candidates opposing austerity and a hard Brexit.||185,752|||
|Sunday Express||Conservative Party||335,772|||
|Sunday Mirror||Labour Party||629,277|||
|The Sunday People||None||Endorsed tactical voting against the Conservatives.||240,846|||
|The Sun on Sunday||Conservative Party||1,375,539|||
|The Sunday Telegraph||Conservative Party||359,400|||
|The Sunday Times||Conservative Party||792,324|||
In contrast to the 2015 general election, in which smaller parties received more media coverage than usual, coverage during the 2017 election focused on the two main political parties, Labour and the Conservatives (84% of the politicians featured in newspapers, and 67% on TV, were Conservative or Labour), with Conservatives sources receiving the most coverage and quotation, particularly in the print media (the margin of difference between Conservative and Labour sources was 2.1 points on TV and 9.6 points in newspapers). The five most prominent politicians were Theresa May (Cons) (30.1% of news appearanced), Jeremy Corbyn (Lab) (26.7%), Tim Farron (Lib Dem) (6.8%), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) (3.7%), and Boris Johnson (Cons) (3.6%). The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) received next to no coverage during the campaign (0.4% of appearances) but were prominent in coverage after then election.
Newspapers were partisan in their coverage and generally took an attacking editorial line, providing negative coverage of the party/ies they opposed rather than advocating for the party they endorsed, with Labour receiving the most negative coverage. Mick Temple, professor of Journalism and Politics at Staffordshire University, characterised the negativity Corbyn and Labour received during this election as more hostile that that which Ed Miliband and Labour received during the 2015 general election. Jeremy Corbyn was portrayed as a coward, and he and his closest allies were accused of being terrorist sympathizers. During the election period, BBC Question Time host David Dimbleby said Jeremy Corbyn had not had 'a fair deal at the hands of the press' and that he was more popular than the media made him out to be. An exception, when the Conservative Party received more negative coverage than Labour, was during the third week of the campaign, when the Conservatives released their manifesto, proposed a controversial social welfare policy (which became known as the "dementia tax") and subsequently made a U-turn on the proposal. When newspaper circulation size is accounted for, the Conservative Party was the only party to receive a positive evaluation overall from the press. It was endorsed by newspapers that had an 80% share of the national Sunday press audience (the five Sunday newspapers endorsing the Conservatives had a daily circulation of more than 4 million) and 57% of the national daily press (a combined circulation of 4,429,460). Labour was endorsed by one national Sunday newspaper (the Sunday Mirror), with two others endorsing tactical voting against the Conservative (these three titles, with a daily circulation of under 1 million, had a share of 20% of the Sunday press audience), and 11% of the national daily press (namely, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror; a combined circulation of 841,010). On this metric, 'Conservative partisanship was the most salient voice in the British national press'. When newspapers' articles were measured by their positivity and negativity towards and against the parties running in the election, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail provided support for the Conservatives and The Guardian and the Daily Mirror provided support for the Labour party. However, few Guardian or Mirror election-related editorials called for a vote for Labour, and even fewer endorsed Corbyn – many articles in left-wing papers criticised him, or he was ignored. While the collective voice of the right-wing papers were (four times) stronger in their support for the Conservatives than the left-wing were of Labour, on the whole they were similar to the left in their negativity towards, or avoidance of, the leader of their endorsed party. Only the Daily Express gave Theresa May unreserved support. After the election, the press turned on Theresa May, who had run on a campaign that platformed her as a 'strong and stable' leader, and they described her as 'weak and wobbly', 'robotic', the 'zombie prime minister', and a 'dead woman walking'.
Broadcast media, by giving airtime directly to Jeremy Corbyn and his policy ideas, is seen as playing a significant role during the election in presenting him as someone less frightening that the newspapers had presented him and more engaging than Theresa May. The BBC has been criticised for its coverage during the election campaign. For example, right-wing papers The Sun and the Daily Mail complained that the audience at the BBC run leaders' debate was pro-Corbyn, and the Daily Mail asked why the topic of immigration, one of the Conservatives favoured issues, was barely mentioned; and right-wing websites Breitbart London and Westmonster said BBC coverage on Brexit was pro-EU. Left-wing websites, like The Canary, The Skwawkbox and Another Angry Voice complained that the BBC was pro-Tory and anti-Corbyn. According to analysts, a bias was evident during Jeremy Paxman's leaders debates, with 54% of airtime devoted to Conservative issues and 31% to Labour's. In an episode of Have I Got News for You aired during the campaign period, Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, suggested the BBC was biased in favour of the Conservatives. The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg particularly received criticism for her election coverage. During the election the BBC circulated a 2015 report of Kuenssberg's (on Corbyn's views on 'shoot to kill' policy) that had been censured by the BBC Trust for its misleading editing; on the final day of the election the BBC acknowledged that the clip was subject to a complaint that had been upheld by the Trust.
As during the 2015 election, although less than then (−12.5%), most media coverage (32.9%) was given to the workings of the electoral process itself (e.g., electoral events, opinion polls, 'horse race' coverage, campaign mishaps). During the first two weeks of campaigning, members of the public, interviewed in vox pops, made up a fifth to almost a half of all sources in broadcast news. While in the first two weeks of the election period policy made up less than half of all broadcast coverage, over the whole campaign policy received more coverage in all media than during the previous election, particularly after manifestos were published in the third week, when close to eight in ten broadcast news items were primarily about policy issues. Policy around Brexit and the EU receiving most coverage overall (10.9%), and national events that happened during the campaign period (namely, the terrorist attacks on Manchester Arena and in the area of London Bridge), along with controversies over Trident, brought policy issues around defence and security to the fore (7.2%).
From the start of the campaign, commentators predicted a landslide victory for the Conservatives. After the results were in and the Conservatives has won by a much smaller margin, on air Channel 4's Jon Snow said, "I know nothing, we the media, the pundits and experts, know nothing". A number of newspaper columnists expressed similar sentiments. Some analysts and commentators have suggested the gap between the newspapers' strong support, and the public's marginal support, for the Conservatives in this election indicates a decline in the influence of print media, and/or that in 2017's election social media played a decisive role (perhaps being the first election in which this was the case). Some website and blog content, like that produced by The Canary and Another Angry Voice, gained as much traffic as many mainstream media articles and went more viral than mainstream political journalism. The London Economic had the most shared election-related article online during the campaign. Others urge caution, stressing that the traditional press still have an importance influence on how people vote. In a YouGov poll, 42% of the general public said that TV was most influential in helping them choose, or confirming their choice in, who to vote for; 32% said newspapers and magazines; 26%, social media; and 25%, radio. 58% of people surveyed also thought that the social media had diminished the influence of newspapers.
Politicians not standingEdit
Members of Parliament who did not stand for re-electionEdit
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage announced that he would not stand, saying he could be more effective as an MEP. UKIP major donor Arron Banks, who had earlier indicated his intention to stand in Clacton to defeat Douglas Carswell, withdrew in favour of the UKIP candidate after Carswell announced he would be standing down.
Opinion polling and seat projectionsEdit
In the 2015 general election, polling companies underestimated the Conservative Party vote and overestimated the Labour Party vote and so failed to predict the result accurately. Afterwards they started making changes to polling practices; recommendations from a review by the British Polling Council are likely to result in further changes. Almost all polls and predictions were for British seats only, with Northern Irish parties being either absent from the totals or counted as "other".
Predictions three weeks before the voteEdit
The first-past-the-post system used in UK general elections means that the number of seats won is not directly related to vote share. Thus, several approaches are used to convert polling data and other information into seat predictions. The table below lists some of the predictions.
as of 15 May 2017
as of 20 May 2017
as of 12 May 2017
as of 12 May 2017
|Others||1[n 8]||18[n 9]||19||N/A|
|Overall result (probability)||Conservative
Predictions two weeks before the voteEdit
as of 26 May 2017
as of 28 May 2017
as of 26 May 2017
as of 26 May 2017
as of 26 May 2017
|Others||1[n 8]||18[n 9]||19||—||—|
|Overall result (probability)||Conservative
Predictions one week before the voteEdit
as of 1 June 2017
as of 31 May 2017
as of 31 May 2017
as of 1 June 2017
as of 1 June 2017
|Others||1[n 8]||18[n 9]||—||2||19|
|Overall result (probability)||Conservative
Predictions on polling dayEdit
The UK's first-past-the-post electoral system means that national shares of the vote do not give an exact indicator of how the various parties will be represented in Parliament. Different commentators and pollsters currently provide a number of predictions, based on polls and other data, as to how the parties will be represented in Parliament:
as of 8 June 2017
as of 8 June 2017
as of 8 June 2017
as of 8 June 2017
as of 8 June 2017
as of 8 June 2017
as of 8 June 2017
majority of 10
majority of 82
majority of 66
majority of 64
majority of 66
majority of 24
(Con 24 seats short)
majority of 62
- Lord Ashcroft Polls has announced an estimate for the election result. He updates it at intervals on his website.
- Electoral Calculus maintains a running projection of seats according to latest polls on its website. It also maintains a seat-by-seat projection for Scotland.
- Election Forecast also maintains a projection of seats based on current opinion poll averages on their website.
- Elections Etc. issues regular forecasts based on current opinion poll averages, Betting Markets, expert predictions and other sources on their website.
- YouGov issue daily seat estimates using their aggregated statistical election model.[clarification needed]
- Britain Elects maintains a 'nowcast' – a projection showing what the result would be if held today – of seats based on historical data as well as national and regional polling.
An exit poll, conducted by GfK and Ipsos MORI on behalf of the BBC, ITV and Sky News, was published at the end of voting at 10 pm, predicting the number of seats for each party, with the Conservatives being the largest party, but short of an overall majority: Actual results were close to the prediction.
|Scottish National Party||34||22|
|Conservatives 12 short of a majority|
Results for all constituencies except Kensington were reported by the morning after the election. The Conservatives remained the largest single party in terms of seats and votes, but were short of a parliamentary majority. The Conservatives won 317 seats with 42.4% of the vote while the Labour Party won 262 seats with 40.0% of the vote. The election resulted in the third hung parliament since the Second World War, elections in February 1974 and 2010 having previously resulted in hung parliaments. YouGov correctly predicted a hung parliament after employing "controversial" methodology.
In England, Labour made a net gain of 21 seats, taking 25 constituencies from the Conservatives and two from the Liberal Democrats. Its gains were predominantly in university towns and cities and in London, most notably achieving victories in Battersea, Canterbury, Kensington and Ipswich from the Conservatives by narrow margins; it also lost five seats to the Conservatives, largely in the Midlands, and was unable to regain Copeland which had been lost in a February by-election. The Conservatives experienced a net loss of 22 seats, the first time since 1997 that the party suffered a net loss of seats. They gained Clacton from UKIP and Southport from the Liberal Democrats in addition to the six gains from Labour. The Liberal Democrats took five seats from the Conservatives, including Twickenham, won back by Vince Cable, and Kingston and Surbiton, won by Ed Davey, but lost two seats to Labour: Leeds North West and Sheffield Hallam, the seat of former party leader Nick Clegg. Richmond Park, which the Liberal Democrats had won in a 2016 by-election, was narrowly lost to the Conservatives. Caroline Lucas remained the sole Green Party MP, retaining Brighton Pavilion.
In Scotland, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all gained seats from the SNP, whose losses were attributed to opposition to a second Scottish independence referendum, contributing to tactical voting for unionist parties. The Conservative Party placed second in Scotland for the first time since 1992, won its largest number of seats in Scotland since 1983 and recorded its highest share of the vote there since 1979. With thirteen seats, the Scottish Conservatives became the largest unionist party in Scotland for the first time since 1955. Labour gained six seats from the SNP, while the Liberal Democrats gained three. Having won 56 of 59 Scottish seats at the last general election, the SNP lost a total of 21 seats, and majorities in its remaining seats were greatly reduced. High-profile losses included SNP Commons leader Angus Robertson in Moray and former party leader and ex-First Minister Alex Salmond in Gordon.
In Wales, Labour held 25 seats and gained Cardiff North, Gower and Vale of Clwyd from the Conservatives, leaving the Welsh Tories with eight seats. Plaid Cymru retained its three existing seats and gained Ceredigion, the Liberal Democrats' only seat in Wales. This was the first ever election at which the Liberal Democrats or one of their ancestral parties failed to win a seat in Wales.
In Northern Ireland, the SDLP lost its three seats (Foyle and South Down to Sinn Féin and Belfast South to the DUP), while the UUP lost its two seats (Fermanagh and South Tyrone to Sinn Féin and South Antrim to the DUP). With the Alliance Party failing to win any seats or regain Belfast East, this left the DUP with ten seats (up from eight) and Sinn Féin with seven (up from four); independent unionist Sylvia Hermon retained North Down. Recording its best result since partition, Sinn Féin confirmed it would continue its abstentionist policy, leaving no nationalist representation in the House of Commons.
UKIP failed to win any seats, its vote share falling from 12.6% at the previous general election to just 1.8%; party leader Paul Nuttall came third in Boston and Skegness. The Greens' vote share dropped from 3.8% to 1.6%.
The result was noted for increased vote shares for Labour (up 9.6 percentage points) and the Conservatives (up 5.5 percentage points), with a combined 82.4% share of the vote, up from 67.3% in 2015. The highest combined share of the vote for the two main parties since 1970, it was suggested this indicated a return to two-party politics caused by tactical voting which led to the Conservatives having a smaller share of seats despite an increased number of votes. The election was characterised by higher turnout, particularly among younger voters, which may have contributed to Labour's increased vote share. Research company Ipsos MORI considered age to be one of the most significant factors behind the result; compared to the 2015 general election, under-45s tended to opt more for Labour and over-54s for the Conservatives. It found 60% of those aged 18–24 voted Labour while 61% of over-64s voted Conservative. The swing to Labour was high in those seats with large numbers of young people. In seats where the Remain vote was strong there was also evidence of tactical voting against the Conservatives in order to stop a "hard Brexit", with many voters opting for the non-Conservative candidate with the best chance of winning.
In terms of social grade, Labour increased its share of middle-class voters (defined as ABC1) by 12 percentage points compared to the previous election while the Conservatives increased their share of working-class voters (C2DE) by 12 percentage points. Political scientist John Curtice found that the Conservatives tended to experience a greater increase in vote share in seats with a higher proportion of working-class voters, particularly those that voted Leave in the EU referendum. Many of Labour's most successful results occurred in seats that voted Remain by a large margin in 2016.
Compared to previous elections, turnout by private renters increased (from 51% in 2010 to 65%) and favoured Labour to a greater degree, with the party achieving a 23-point lead over the Conservatives among private renters; the Conservatives maintained a 14-point lead among homeowners. In terms of education, YouGov found that a one-point lead for the Conservatives among university graduates in 2015 had flipped to a 17-point lead for Labour in 2017. For those with low educational qualifications, the Conservatives led by 22 points, up from 8 points in 2015.
It was suggested that UKIP's decline boosted both main parties, but tended to help Labour retain seats in the North of England and the Midlands against the Conservatives, though it may have also benefited the Conservatives in predominantly working-class seats. Ipsos Mori found that UKIP's collapse was consistent across all age groups.
Published in August 2017, the British Election Study (BES), which surveyed 30,000 voters, found that despite a relatively low profile in the campaign, Brexit was considered to be the single most important issue facing the country by over a third of respondents. It found more than half of UKIP voters in 2015 went to the Conservatives, while 18% went to Labour. Remain voters tended to favour Labour, with the party particularly gaining among Remain voters who previously supported other parties, despite perceived uncertainty over its position on the single market. There was a strong correlation between those who prioritised controlling immigration and the Conservatives, while the same was true for supporting single market access and those who opted for Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
The BES study indicated the importance of the campaign period. A pre-election survey found 41% for the Conservatives and 27% for Labour, but by the election 19% of voters had switched party. Unlike the previous election where both main parties achieved similar shares of late-switchers, Labour won 54% while the Conservatives won 19%. Likeability of party leaders also narrowed over the course of the campaign.
A record number of woman and LGBT+ MPs were elected. 208 woman MPs were elected to Parliament; the first time more than 200 MPs were women and beating the previous high of 196 woman MPs in the last Parliament. For the first time, a majority of MPs were educated at state comprehensive schools. More MPs who are known to be disabled were elected in 2017 than in 2015.
The results of the 2017 general election indicate the tilting of Britain's political axis, which reflects long-term trends. Looking at information of constituency-level voting in England between 2005 to 2017, patterns of voting confirm the relevance of identifying new categories of social class alongside traditional political divides. Labour has had increased appeal to voters who work in areas central to the modern British economy, and at the same time in larger metropolitan centres and economically dynamic university towns. On the other hand, the Conservative voter base has been seen to increase in less populated, less ethnically diverse areas, where voters are more engaged in industries such as manufacturing.
|Of total||Of total|
|Conservative Party||Theresa May||317||48.8%||
317 / 650
|Labour Party||Jeremy Corbyn||262||40.3%||
262 / 650
|Scottish National Party||Nicola Sturgeon||35||5.4%||
35 / 650
|Liberal Democrats||Tim Farron||12||1.8%||
12 / 650
|Democratic Unionist Party||Arlene Foster||10||1.5%||
10 / 650
|Sinn Féin||Gerry Adams||7||1.1%||
7 / 650
|Plaid Cymru||Leanne Wood||4||0.6%||
4 / 650
|Green Party of England and Wales||Jonathan Bartley
1 / 650
1 / 650
1 / 650
|Candidates||Total||Gained||Lost||Net||Of total (%)||Total||Of total (%)||Change (%)|
|Liberal Democrat||Tim Farron||629||12||8||4||+4||1.8||2,371,861||7.4||−0.5|
|Green Party of England and Wales||Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley||457||1||0||0||0||0.2||512,327||1.6||−2.0|
|Sinn Féin||Gerry Adams||18||7||3||0||+3||1.1||238,915||0.7||+0.1|
|Plaid Cymru||Leanne Wood||40||4||1||0||+1||0.6||164,466||0.5||−0.1|
|Yorkshire Party||Stewart Arnold||21||0||0||0||0||0||20,958||0.1||+0.1|
|National Health Action||Dr Alex Ashman||5||0||0||0||0||0||16,119||0.1||−0.1|
|Green (NI)||Steven Agnew||7||0||0||0||0||0||7,452||0.0||0.0|
|Scottish Green||Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman||3||0||0||0||0||0||5,886||0.0||−0.1|
|Christian Peoples||Sidney Cordle||31||0||0||0||0||0||5,869||0.0||0.0|
|People Before Profit||Eamonn McCann||2||0||0||0||0||0||5,509||0.0||0.0|
|Monster Raving Loony||Alan Hope||12||0||0||0||0||0||3,890||0.0||0.0|
|Women's Equality||Sophie Walker||7||0||0||0||0||0||3,580||0.0||0.0|
|North East Party||Mary Cartwright||1||0||0||0||0||0||2,355||0.0||0.0|
|Pirate||David A Elston||10||0||0||0||0||0||2,321||0.0||0.0|
|English Democrat||Robin Tilbrook||7||0||0||0||0||0||1,913||0.0||0.0|
|Independent Save Withybush Save Lives||1||0||0||0||0||0||1,209||0.0||0.0|
|Socialist Labour||Arthur Scargill||3||0||0||0||0||0||1,154||0.0||0.0|
|Animal Welfare||Vanessa Hudson||4||0||0||0||0||0||955||0.0||0.0|
|Justice and Anti-Corruption Party||2||0||0||0||0||0||842||0.0||0.0|
|Workers Revolutionary||Sheila Torrance||5||0||0||0||0||0||771||0.0||0.0|
|Demos Direct Initiative Party||1||0||0||0||0||0||551||0.0||0.0|
|All other parties||38||0||0||0||0||0||5,718||0.0||0.0|
All parties with over 400 votes shown.
Ipsos MORI polling after the election suggested the following demographic breakdown:
|The 2017 UK general election vote in Great Britain|
|Social group||Con||Lab||Lib Dem||UKIP||Others||Lead|
|Men by age|
|Women by age|
|Men by social class|
|Women by social class|
|Degree or higher||33||48||12||0||7||15|
|EU referendum vote|
|Did not vote||23||66||4||1||6||43|
|2015 general election vote|
|Aged 18–34 by social class|
|Aged 35–54 by social class|
|Aged 55+ by social class|
YouGov polling after the election suggested the following demographic breakdown:
|The 2017 UK general election vote in Great Britain|
|Social group||Con||Lab||Lib Dem||SNP||UKIP||Green||Plaid||Others|
|Highest educational level|
|GCSE or lower||55||33||5||2||3||1||0||1|
|High (degree or above)||32||49||11||4||1||2||0||1|
|Newspaper read most often|
|The Daily Telegraph||79||12||6||0||1||1||0||1|
|The Financial Times||40||39||14||1||2||3||0||1|
Seats which changed allegianceEdit
Corbyn and Farron called on May to resign. On 9 June, May apologised to candidates who lost their seats and confirmed she would continue as party leader and prime minister, with the intention of forming a minority government with support from the Democratic Unionist Party in order to ensure "certainty". May's joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill resigned, replaced by Gavin Barwell, who had lost his seat in the election.
On 10 June, a survey of 1,500 ConservativeHome readers found that almost two-thirds of Conservative Party members wanted Theresa May to resign. A YouGov poll of 1,720 adults for The Sunday Times had 48% saying Theresa May should resign, with 38% against. A Survation poll of 1,036 adults online for The Mail on Sunday showed 49% of people wanting her resignation, with 38% against. On 11 June George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, described May as a "dead woman walking".
In a post-election reshuffle carried out on 11 June, May promoted her close ally Damian Green to become First Secretary of State and brought Michael Gove into the cabinet as Environment Secretary, making Andrea Leadsom Leader of the House of Commons. Liz Truss, David Lidington and David Gauke changed roles, while eleven cabinet members including key figures such as Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd, Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond and David Davis remained in post.
Negotiations between the Conservatives and the DUP began on 9 June. On 12 June, it was reported that the State Opening of Parliament, scheduled for 19 June, could be delayed. DUP sources informed the BBC that the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June would delay finalisation of an agreement. On 15 June, it was announced that the Queen's Speech would occur on 21 June. A confidence and supply deal was reached on 26 June, with the DUP backing the Conservatives in key votes in the House of Commons over the course of the parliament. The agreement included additional funding of £1 billion for Northern Ireland, highlighted mutual support for Brexit and national security, expressed commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, and indicated that policies such as the state pension triple lock and Winter Fuel Payments would be maintained. Various commentators suggested this raises problems for the UK government's role as a neutral arbiter in Northern Ireland, as is required under the Good Friday Agreement.
Party leadership changesEdit
Also on 14 June, Brian Paddick resigned as home affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats over concerns about Farron's "views on various issues" during the campaign. Later that day Farron announced his resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats, citing conflict between his Christian faith and serving as leader. He remained as leader until Sir Vince Cable was elected unopposed on 20 July.
The Conservative Party campaign was widely criticised by those within and outside the party. Points of criticism included the initial decision to call the election (which Lynton Crosby had advised against); the control of the campaign by a small team of May's joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who were more experienced with policy work than campaigning; the presidential style of the campaign focusing on the figure of Theresa May, while most of the Cabinet were sidelined (particularly the exclusion of Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, with reports that May would sack him after the election); and a poorly designed manifesto that offered little hope and the contents of which were not shared with Cabinet members until shortly before its release. In July, Prime Minister Theresa May admitted she had "shed a tear" upon seeing the election exit poll, and suggested the manifesto's lack of appeal to younger voters had played a part in Conservative shortcomings.
Allegations of Russian interferenceEdit
In 2018, an investigation by Swansea University and The Sunday Times revealed that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts, at least many of which were bots, supported Labour, denigrated Conservatives and reached millions of voters. Their intention was to swing the elections for Labour. Labour Chancellor John McDonnell dismissed the claims as "ludicrous", "farcical" and a "classic Sunday Times smear campaign" and said "If there's an issue here about anything with Russian influence in our society, it's about Russian oligarchs funding the Tory party – let's have an inquiry into that."
Election turnout figuresEdit
A January 2018 report in The Times reported that researchers at Oxford University and the University of Manchester have found that election turnout in June 2017 was actually in the high 70s and could have been as high as 80.3 per cent, partly because those with second homes and students are registered twice, and partly also because of entries there by mistake or because of voter fraud. By overestimating the number of registered voters, official sources underestimated the proportion of the electorate that voted. Turnout in the 2017 election is likely to have been roughly 78 per cent. A spokesman for the Election Commission said officials would "consider this report's findings on the calculation of election turnout figures". The commission "continues to work to improve the accuracy and completeness" of the electoral register, he added.
- Given that Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats and the Speaker and deputies do not vote, the number of MPs needed for a majority is, in practice, slightly lower. Sinn Féin won 7 seats, meaning a practical majority requires at least 320 MPs.
- Nicola Sturgeon sits as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Southside. Before the election, the SNP delegation to the House of Commons had been led by Angus Robertson, MP for Moray, who lost his seat. Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, succeeded him.
- Gerry Adams sits as a TD in Dáil Éireann (lower house of the Irish Parliament) for Louth. The leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, sits as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid Ulster.
- Sinn Féin MPs abstain from taking their seats in the British House of Commons.
- Arlene Foster sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone prior to the collapse of the Assembly. The party's leader in the Commons is Nigel Dodds, the MP for Belfast North.
- Or, in the case of a British citizen who moved abroad before the age of 18, if his/her parent/guardian was on the Electoral Register in the UK in the last 15 years
- The deadline for the receipt and determination of anonymous electoral registration applications is one working day before the publication date of the notice of alteration to the Electoral Register (that is, the sixth working day before polling day).
- GB forecast only
- Electoral Calculus counts Speaker John Bercow in the Conservative total
- The seat had already been gained at a by-election in February. Gains at a general election are normally contrasted to the previous general election, ignoring by-elections in between.
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