David Cameron's Conservatives are set to govern Britain for another five years after an unexpectedly strong showing at the general election.

By mid-morning, the Conservatives had won 308 of 650 seats with an exit poll suggesting they were on track to win 316 seats in the lower house of parliament, just shy of a majority but with ample options to form a government.

Newspaper headlines on Friday (8 May) reacted to the Conservatives' impending victory.

"Cameron 'heading back to Number 10'," read the Daily Mail headline.

"Five more damned years?" asked the Daily Mirror.

Ed Miliband, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, all but conceded defeat on Friday morning, saying he was "deeply sorry" for a "very disappointing and difficult night".

Cameron said he hoped to form a government in the coming days after his party enjoyed what he described as a "very strong night".

In central London on the morning after election, Londoners had mixed reactions to the outcome.

"Well, we all know we've got to go through some austerities, so you know this continues, so hopefully we go to the sunlit uplands in the future. So we'll see," said Steve Gray.

"[I have] just a deep-rooted fear... of them [the Conservatives] getting back in," said Lynn.

"Sometimes a government doesn't always have to be liked. Like some people in power, they're not always going to please everyone," said Mike.

Some pollsters said an overall Conservative majority could not be ruled out and the latest BBC projection suggested Cameron's party could win as many as 325 seats.

In practice, controlling 323 seats in parliament is enough to command a majority as four lawmakers from Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein refuse to take their places.

A Conservative victory means Britain is likely to face a historic in-out European Union referendum within two years, something Cameron has promised to deliver if re-elected.