AS IT STANDS: CONS: 322 - LAB: 228 - SNP: 56 - LIB DEMS: 8 - DUP: 8 - UKIP: 1 - GREEN: 1 - OTHERS: 15
David Cameron's Conservatives look set to become the biggest party in a new parliament as Labour was all but wiped out in Scotland by the Scottish Nationalist Party.
Douglas Alexander - touted as a future foreign secretary - lost his seat to 20-year-old Mhairi Black and Jim Murphy, Labour leader in Scotland, was also unseated.
The Liberal Democrats were decimated in the poll and looked poise to lose over 47 of its 57 seats. Business Secretary Vince Cable and former Deputy Leader Simon Hughes were among the casualties in a brutal night for the party.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - who maintained his seat in Sheffield Hallam - said that he would be speaking to the party about his future as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Ed Miliband, Labour leader, is expected to announce his resignation.
Millions of people have cast their votes in what was a surprisingly convincing electoral victory for the Conservatives, after months of opinion polling which suggested it and the Labour party were neck-and-neck.
The Conservatives are now on course to win as many as 333 seats in the most bullish of forecasts as the final seat results roll in. A majority government is probable.
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The Conservatives have won seat number 326 - the number required to govern as a single party - after the Cotswolds returning officer declared it had voted Tory.
With just seven seats left to report, David Cameron can now rely on a slender majority.
The prime minister arrived at Buckingham Palace for the customary 20-minute audience with the Queen before returning to his home for the next five years, 10 Downing Street.
His victory comes after a wild election night that saw Labour and the Liberal Democrats lose scores of seats while the SNP annihilated all before them in Scotland.
The outcome has already led to the resignations of party leaders Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage and the defeat of Westminster beasts including Ed Balls, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander.
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The prime minister's audience with the Queen is expected to last about 20 minutes, after which he will return to Downing Street to address the waiting media.
BREAKING: David Cameron has left Downing Street for Buckingham Palace with his wife Samantha for an audience with the Queen
More from Ed Miliband: "We must rise to the challenge of keeping our country together"
"I'm truly sorry I did not succeed"
"We've come back before and this party will come back again"
"I take absolute and total responsibility for the loss and for our defeat. I'm sorry for so many colleagues who have lost their seats."
"I also want to congratulate all our MPs who were elected yesterday."
"It was the most cohesive and durable campaign I've ever been involved in. I want to thank Douglas Alexander and the team of Labour Party members."
"Now it is time for someone else to take this party forward. So I announce my resignation."
"Harriet Harman is the best deputy leader anyone could ever hope for."
Miliband has resigned as Labour leader and recommended that Harriet Harman should take over as interim head of the left-of-centre party.
— Ian Silvera (@ianjsilvera) May 8, 2015
The Spectator's Sebastian Payne reports David Cameron did not expect the Conservatives to win as many seats as they did.
The party needs just one more seat from the 12 left to declare to make it over the 326 threshold.
But Cameron did not always believe the Tories would win that many, the report says.
"I never quite believed we'd get to the end of this campaign in the place we are now," he told Tory HQ.
He recalled the "amazing" victory in 1992 and the 2010 result but said this election was the "sweetest victory of them all."
The royal standard has been unfurled above Buckingham Palace as David Cameron prepares to inform the Queen he is able to form a government.
The monarch had been at Kensington Palace but has returned to await her prime minister.
Her next major involvement in parliamentary proceedings will be when she delivers the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of the new Parliament on 27 May.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Steele has spoken to the BBC after Nick Clegg announced he was stepping down as leader of the party.
He said "history will be kinder to Nick Clegg than the electorate has."
The Lib Dems, he said, "had the most professional election campaign I have seen" but "too many mistakes were made at the beginning of the coalition" and that led to a "loss of trust and it went downhill from there."
Nick Clegg has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats after taking "full responsibility" for their disastrous election.
Says it is "too early to give considered account on why party has suffered."
Clegg says "fear and grievance have won, liberalism has lost" and that the election was the worst in the party's history.
But he adds the party will return and the party "will win".
Nigel Farage has resigned as leader of Ukip after finishing second in South Thanet.
He said Ukip would return "a younger and more energetic" party and that he would planned to "enjoy myself and not do very much politics at all."
A record number of women have been elected MPs. At least 166 women will enter the House of Commons after the general election - nearly one third of all MPs.
While the figure is step in the right direction for gender quality in Westminster, there were still 102 seats across Britain with no female candidates.
The Conservatives have taken their 323rd seat of the election - meaning they now have enough for a working majority when Sinn Féin - who do not take their seats in Westminster - and speakers are taken into consideration.
With 12 seats yet to declare, this election could yet get better for David Cameron.
Ed Miliband on Twitter: "I've just thanked Labour's staff. They are a credit to our party, and, driven by a passion to serve, they are a credit to our country.
"I am grateful to the people who worked on our campaign and for the campaign they ran. The responsibility for the result is mine alone."
"Defeats are hard, but we're a party that will never stop fighting for the working people of this country."
In South Thanet:
First place - Conservatives: 18,848
Second place - Ukip: 16,026
Craig McKinlay elected. Nigel Farage does not win South Thanet. The Ukip leader has said he would stand down if he fails in Thanet.
A 70% turnout.
A flavour of life under a Conservative majority that nobody thought the party would get.
This is the election night in photos. Expect Elmo, a lurking Ed Balls and Boris Johnson's ruffled mane.
Perhaps a little presumptuous, but Miliband is expected to resign imminently -- so we looked at who is likeliest to succeed him.
The Conservatives have had their first female Muslim MP elected, as Nus
Ghani took the rural East Sussex constituency of Wealden with an increased
majority of 22,967, some 57% of the vote. Ukip displaced Labour in
second place with 16% of the vote.
With the threat from Ukip failing to materialise in a traditional Tory
constituency, in which the nomination of a candidate of Pakistani-origin
was widely seen as a bold move, Ghani told IBTimes UK: "I don't do
identity politics and I didn't fight this campaign on my personal
identity. This shows that electors didn't see it that way. In Wealden
we're not interested in division -- we are a highly diverse constituency
and I will be representing every single voter. I'm just thrilled to be
elected and my job now is to get stuck in."
Ed Miliband, Labour leader, is expected to announce his resignation in a speech at around noon.
More from the markets, this time Lloyds Banking Group shares (which the UK government owns a few of after a financial crisis bailout). Mike van Dulken, Head of Research at Accendo Markets, said:
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) among the FTSE100 outperformers this morning in reaction to the surprise result (TBC) that David Cameron's Conservative party will achieve a majority in the 2015 UK General Election, removing hitherto fears of the closest-run contest since WW2 seeing the opposition Labour party take power or a muddled coalition introduce tougher regulation and take a less pro-business approach, denting the UK financials sector and hurting the City. No change to existing plans to sell the government's remaining 22% 2008 bailout stake in LLOY to smaller investors (rather than favouring institutions) with a Thatcher style 80's/90's privatisation discount (£4bn Conservative election pledge) will also please investors looking to get back into the recovery story, as will the absence of meddling in the recent reinstatement of dividends after a period of austerity- and bailout-forced absence. Peers BARC and RBS also benefiting.
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) currently trading at 87.6p / +6.7%.