Friday briefing: Labour supporters wake to nightmare result

Kate Lyons and Warren Murray
Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

Good morning. Well there’s no doubt about the will of the nation, with the Conservative party winning a majority that is projected to be its largest in more than 30 years.

What’s going on?

Labour faces a reckoning after its dismal result at the general election. From the stroke of 10pm, when exit polls were published, Labour hearts were shattered, as it became clear that the “red wall” – Labour’s traditional heartland – was crumbling. Throughout the night it became more certain that Boris Johnson had achieved the landslide victory he craved. For full results see our election tracker.

Bitter divisions have already emerged within Labour about who is responsible for the dire losses. The party will face a fight over its future after Jeremy Corbyn announced he would not lead Labour into another general election. We have this analysis of five reasons Labour lost, though Zoe Williams writes that the Labour party being thrown into conflict “is not necessarily a bad thing. You cannot rebuild while pretending everything’s still standing.”

Also looking for a new leader will be the Lib Dems. Jo Swinson, who started the campaign claiming she could be the next prime minister, lost her seat to the SNP in a result capping a disastrous night for her party – which looks set to win 13 seats, only one more than in 2017.

But a party that one imagines will be sticking with its leader for some time is the Tories. The night saw huge wins for the Conservatives and Johnson touted the victory as one that has given his party a “powerful new mandate to get Brexit done”. If the wins are as big as predicted by exit polls and results declared so far, the party is on track to win the biggest Tory majority since Margaret Thatcher’s third election victory in 1987. Boris Johnson will waste no time, acting swiftly to bring his Brexit deal back before parliament next week.

In reaction to the news the pound surged and Donald Trump tweeted (apparently happily). The night was also a success for the SNP, which looks set to win 55 out of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. The strong result for the party means Nicola Sturgeon will demand that Johnson give her powers to hold a second independence referendum.

At a glance

Best of the rest

> The US House judiciary committee has abruptly postponed a historic vote to advance articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, following a 14-hour meeting that devolved into a rancorous, deeply partisan debate stretching late into the night during which Republicans put forward a string of doomed amendments. It will reconvene on Friday morning.

> Baby boys born underweight have a greater chance of infertility as adults, research suggests. Experts say they have found men have a higher risk of infertility if they were born with a weight in the lowest 10% for their time spent in the womb. Odds of infertility as an adult were 55% worse for boys born below weight than for boys born at an average weight, the experts write in the journal Human Reproduction. About one in seven heterosexual couples in the UK experience fertility problems.

> Bodies of six victims of the New Zealand volcano disaster have been recovered. In a delicate operation the remains were taken on board the ship HMNZS Wellington by a team of eight military personnel for transfer to the coroner in Auckland. Police said two bodies were unable to be retrieved including one believed to be in the water. During the retrieval family members travelled by boat to perform a blessing at sea in the Bay of Plenty while local people gathered at the waterfront in nearby Whakatāne to pray, sing and honour the dead.

Lunchtime read: How extremists infiltrated US policing

For decades, anti-government and white supremacist groups have been attempting to recruit police officers in the United States – and the authorities themselves aren’t even certain about the scale of the problem, write Maddy Crowell and Sylvia Varnham O’Regan.

A Freedom Rider bus in flames in May 1961 near Anniston, Alabama. Photograph: Associated Press


Mason Greenwood had a night to remember as Manchester United dismantled AZ Alkmaar’s challenge with a barrage of second-half goals. Freddie Ljungberg’s Arsenal were heading out of the Europa League after going 2-0 down at Standard Liège but goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka secured a 2-2 draw and place in the last 32. Diogo Jota sprang from the bench to score a hat-trick in 12 second-half minutes and ensure Wolves finished their group campaign in style, while Alfredo Morelos scored a first-half goal in a 1-1 draw with Young Boys, of Switzerland, to take Rangers through.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has been rocked by the resignation of Victoria Aggar, a highly respected member of its own Athlete Committee, who said she quit after Wada broke its promises and failed to protect clean athletes. Natalie Sciver scored a series-clinching unbeaten century as England women made it back-to-back wins over Pakistan with victory by 127 runs in the second ODI in Kuala Lumpur. And Scott Wisemantel has been appointed attack coach by Australia after leaving England’s backroom team following the Rugby World Cup.


Immediately after publication of the exit poll, sterling jumped by more than two cents against the US dollar to trade at about $1.35 on the international money markets. That was the highest level for the pound since May 2018. The pound also rallied strongly against the euro, gaining by a similar amount to €1.21. At time of writing it’s sitting on $1.347 and €1.205. The FTSE 100 is headed for a fillip when the stock market opens, according to futures trading. Follow the latest market reaction at our business live blog.

The papers

“Labour in meltdown as Johnson seizes majority” – that’s the Guardian after a calamitous election result for Jeremy Corbyn. The paper gets into its final edition the Labour leader’s speech saying he will not lead the party into the next election – but intends to cling to the helm to oversee a “period of reflection”. “Johnson unleashed”, says the i, adding “Brexit in 49 days after Midlands and North tire of delay”.

“Exit polls point to vindication for Johnson with huge Tory majority”, says the FT, which also reports that the SNP is on course to take 55 of 59 Scottish seats – Scotland’s Courier has “SNP landslide likely to spark Indyref2”. “The British lion roars for Boris and Brexit” – the late edition of the Express (earlier versions hailed “Victory for Boris AND for Brexit”). “The Dog’s Bollox” says the Sun in early editions, with the X done as the cross on a ballot paper – its final version has “Carrie on Boris” picturing the returned PM and his girlfriend. The Times says that “Election poll points to Johnson landslide”. In its late edition the Telegraph goes with “Johnson’s historic victory”, dropping the “landslide” headline it ran in earlier versions.

The Mail in its final edition enthuses that Conservative voters should “Rejoice! Boris surges to landslide win” – a tweaked version of an earlier, anticipatory headline. But the Mirror calls the outcome a “Nightmare before Xmas” as it laments the “worst Labour result since 1935”. And finally, the Metro’s 5am edition: “Landslide for Boris”.

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