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General Election 2024: Everything you need to know as the polls close

Election count

POLLING stations were open from 7am to 10pm, with the much-anticipated exit poll expected at shortly afterwards. This election is critical not only for the nation as a whole but also for Wales, where key battles are being fought across several constituencies.

Party leaders at polling stations earlier today (Images: BBC Newshub/Sky News)

Key figures await results

Following the exit poll, Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will be eagerly awaiting results from the nation’s 650 constituencies. Opinion polls throughout the six-week campaign have consistently predicted a significant Labour majority, with some suggesting Sir Keir could surpass Tony Blair’s historic victory in 1997. In Wales, Labour’s stronghold is under scrutiny, with the party looking to maintain or even expand its influence.

In a potential blow to the Conservatives, a recent Telegraph poll indicated that Mr. Sunak could become the first sitting Prime Minister to lose his seat in a general election. The impact of such an event would be felt across the UK, including in Wales, where Conservative seats are also at risk.

Tracking the results

Results will start to trickle in from around 11.30pm, with most constituencies declaring their outcomes in the early hours of the next day. The first declaration in 2019 came at 11.27pm from Newcastle City Council. This year, Blyth and Ashington is expected to be the first to announce around 11.30pm, followed closely by Houghton and Sunderland South at 11.45pm.

In Wales, results will be closely watched in constituencies such as Cardiff North, a seat that has seen significant campaigning from both Labour and the Conservatives. Early results here could indicate broader trends across the country.

Key Welsh constituencies to watch

Several Welsh constituencies will be key indicators of the election’s outcome. In Cardiff North, Labour’s Anna McMorrin is defending a majority against a strong Conservative challenge. In Wrexham, the Conservatives are hoping to retain the seat they won in 2019 for the first time in history.

Other significant Welsh constituencies include:

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  • Swansea West: Traditionally a Labour stronghold, any significant shift here could signal wider changes in voter sentiment.
  • Ceredigion: Held by Plaid Cymru, this seat is a battleground for multiple parties, reflecting the unique political landscape of Wales.
  • Monmouth: A Conservative seat since 2005, Labour is hoping to make gains here, reflecting a broader strategy to win back seats lost over the past decade.

Constituencies to watch across the UK

Key results will be eagerly anticipated, particularly around 4am when Rishi Sunak’s Richmond and Northallerton seat results are expected. Predictions indicate he may face an unprecedented defeat. Similarly, Sir Keir Starmer’s result in Holborn and St Pancras is expected shortly after.

Top Tory figures such as Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, Grant Shapps, and Jeremy Hunt will also learn their fates during the night. Jeremy Corbyn, now standing as an independent in Islington North, will discover if he retains his seat.

Detailed timetable

  • 11pm: Blyth and Ashington, Houghton and Sunderland South.
  • Midnight: Basildon and Billericay, Broxbourne, Sunderland Central, Swindon South.
  • 1am: First results from Scotland, providing an early indication of SNP’s performance.
  • 2am: Results from key constituencies including North West Essex, Burnley, and Redcar.
  • 3am: Major declarations from Tory strongholds and Labour’s contested seats.
  • 4am: Critical results for Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer, and key Reform UK candidates.

Major political movements

This election could reshape the political landscape, with Reform UK making significant strides. Notable figures like Nigel Farage and Richard Tice will find out if their efforts have secured them a seat in the Commons. In Wales, the influence of Reform UK and other smaller parties like the Green Party and Liberal Democrats will be under the spotlight, particularly in areas where they have focused their campaigns on local issues and dissatisfaction with the main parties.

Welsh political landscape

Wales has traditionally been a Labour stronghold, but recent elections have shown an increasing willingness among voters to explore alternatives. The Conservatives made significant inroads in 2019, capturing seats like the Vale of Clwyd and Wrexham. This election will test whether these gains were temporary or indicative of a longer-term shift.

Plaid Cymru, advocating for Welsh independence and greater autonomy, remains a significant force, particularly in rural and Welsh-speaking areas. Their performance in this election will be crucial in determining the future political direction of Wales.

Welsh voter sentiment

Voter sentiment in Wales has been shaped by a range of issues, including economic recovery post-COVID, healthcare, and local governance. The impact of Brexit, while less dominant than in previous elections, still plays a role in voter decision-making, especially in border constituencies.

The response to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by both the UK and Welsh governments is also a key factor. The Welsh Labour government’s distinct approach compared to the UK government’s policies will be scrutinized by voters as they head to the polls.

Potential upsets and final declarations

As dawn approaches, the final results will reveal whether Labour’s projected success holds true and if the Liberal Democrats can achieve any last-minute upsets in traditionally Conservative areas. In Wales, attention will focus on whether Labour can reclaim seats lost to the Conservatives in 2019 and if Plaid Cymru can expand its influence.

The Liberal Democrats are hoping for a resurgence in places like Montgomeryshire, a seat with a history of Liberal representation. Meanwhile, the Greens are targeting constituencies where environmental issues are particularly resonant.

Conclusion

Stay tuned to herald.wales and pembrokeshire-herald.com for live updates and comprehensive coverage of this pivotal election night. With the potential for significant shifts in both the UK and Welsh political landscapes, this election promises to be one of the most consequential in recent history. As results come in, the political future of Wales and the UK will become clearer, setting the stage for the next phase of governance and policy direction.

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