David Cameron declared Britain is "on the brink of something special" after he petitioned the Queen to form a Conservative majority government.

The prime minister made the speech after his party secured a shock victory in the general election by winning 331 seats, well above Labour's 232.

The Tories' former coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, saw its number of seats in the House of Commons plummet from 57 to eight.

The poor results prompted former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to resign as head of the yellow party and launch a leadership contest.

Likewise, Ed Miliband quit as Labour leader after his party only won 232 seats and was almost wiped out by the SNP in Scotland.

Cameron praised both politicians as he told the world's media and the British public that he will form a government.

"I've just been to see Her Majesty the Queen and I will now form a majority Conservative government," he said.

"I've been proud to lead the first coalition government in 70 years and I want to thank all those who worked so hard to make it a success and in particular, on this day, Nick Clegg.

"Elections can be bruising clashes of ideas and arguments. And a lot of people who believe profoundly in public service have seen that service cut short.

"Ed Miliband rang me this morning to wish me luck with the new government. It was a typically generous gesture from someone who is clearly in public service for all of the right reasons."

'Foundations for a better future'

The prime minister added: "The government I led did important work. It laid the foundations for a better future and now we must build on them. I truly believe we are on the brink of something special in our country.

"We can make Britain a place where a good life is in reach for everyone who is willing to work and do the right thing."

The Tories exceeded expectations by securing a majority after all of the pollsters put Labour and Cameron's party neck and neck on the eve of the election.

The victory means Cameron is the first Conservative leader since 1992 to secure an outright majority after Sir John Major secured a similar shock result.

The prime minister also stressed he will follow through with his promise to hold a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU in 2017. Cameron made the pledge after pressure from his Eurosceptic backbenchers and an insurgent Ukip.

But the Tories were able to decapitate the purple party by beating Nigel Farage at the election in the Kent constituency of South Thanet.