UK business leaders were left shocked as the British broadcasters' exit poll for the general election was unveiled on Thursday (8 June) evening.
Those present at the Institute of Directors' party in Pall Mall, Westminster, made loud gasps as the projection put the Conservatives on 314 (-17), Labour on 266 (+34), the SNP on 34 (-22) and the Liberal Democrats on 14 (+6).
If it panned out into a final result, it would lead to a hung parliament in which no single party would have a majority of MPs in the House of Commons.
Andy Silvester, head of campaigns at the IoD, told IBTimes UK: "We're surprised. A hung parliament is interesting, I mean the SNP have collapsed. The Liberal Democrats have claimed a few. That is a remarkable result – the business community is about to have a remarkable few hours."
The pound immediately plunged against the US Dollar on the news, with a drop of around 1.7% just after the announcement of the exit poll.
Matt Zarb Cousins, a former spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn, told IBTimes UK that Theresa May should quit as prime minister if the projection holds up.
"Theresa May has to go now," he said. "She has been punished for taking the electorate for granted." The Conservative premier, who succeeded David Cameron in the wake of the Brexit vote in 2016, called the election in a bid to strengthen her hand at the Brexit negotiating table.
"If it's bang on, then the Tories have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory," a Ukip source told IBTimes UK. The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, ruled out forming a coalition government with Labour or the Conservatives: "Simply holding our own would be a good result. And there will be no deals if there's a hung parliament."
A senior Green source told IBTimes UK: "We'll do all we can to keep the Tories out of power."