Welcome back

… if you left at all, that is.

It has been a wild night. The election has turned out to be a huge success for the Conservatives and a crushing defeat for Labour.

The Tory message of “getting Brexit done” seems to have got through and Boris Johnson is set to be returned as prime minister with a strong majority.

An exit poll at 10pm indicated it was going to be a good night for the Tories sending the pound up by the most in almost three years. Results have been pouring in since, with a strong swing away from Labour and to the Conservatives.

There are plenty more results to come though. So follow along here today.

State of play just before 5am

It has been a dramatic night which has reshaped British politics. Here is how we stand:

• Boris Johnson’s Conservative party is on course to win a significant victory and take the UK out of the EU early next year. The party is projected to win a majority of about 60.

• Mr Johnson celebrated winning “a powerful new mandate” to leave the EU and unite the country.

• Support for Labour has crumbled across its former heartlands in Wales and the north of England, with the Tories overturning huge majorities to record some staggering gains including Tony Blair’s old constituency of Sedgefield.

• For some Labour MPs, majorities of more than 10,000 were not enough to hold off the blue wave that swept former mining towns and industrial communities, many of which had never voted Tory before.

• The scramble for the future of the Labour party is under way, after Jeremy Corbyn indicated he will not lead the party into the next election.

• It has been an excellent night for the Scottish National party, which has won 44 seats in Scotland so far and has called for a fresh independence referendum.

• A dismal result for the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Jo Swinson lost her seat to the SNP and high-profile defectors failed to break through.

Johnson closes in on Downing Street

The Tories need seven more seats to pass the overall majority mark, with 70 left to declare.

Here is the latest state of play, and you can find many more details over on our results page.

Sterling surges on signs of huge Tory victory

The pound shot higher as currency traders moved to price in an emphatic victory for the Conservative party, Tommy Stubbington reports.

Sterling climbed 2.7 per cent to $1.351, its highest level against the US dollar since May 2018, putting it on course for one of its biggest ever one-day gain. The UK currency reached its highest level against the euro since December 2016, hitting €1.207.

Emoticon Conservatives win the 2019 general election

The Conservative party has won the general election and Boris Johnson is re-elected prime minister.

The Tories have now won 323 seats, and are past the winning line with more than 55 seats left to declare.

Tactical voting backfires

The FT's Federica Cocco writes:

Tactical voting may have backfired, judging by the results in a number of marginal seats such as Kensington, Wimbledon and Ynys Môn.

In Kensington, where Labour lost the seat to the Conservatives by a mere 150 votes, the Liberal Democrats ended up in third place with 9,312 votes — a 9 per cent swing compared with their 2017 results.

In his tactical voting guide for The Observer, Peter Kellner, former president of YouGov, wrote days before the election that the Lib Dems stood the best chance of beating the Tories in Kensington.

In Wimbledon Stephen Hammond of the Conservatives was able to hold his seat by just 628 votes, the Lib Dems came second with 19,745 votes while Labour was third with 12,543.

A similar story in Ynys Môn where the Conservatives gained the seat from Labour thanks to under 2,000 votes, while Plaid Cymru was third with 10,418 votes.

Another notable example is the Cities of London and Westminster where former Labour MP Chuka Umunna failed to win the seat on behalf of the Lib Dems who he joined recently. The seat was comfortably won by the Conservatives with 17,049 votes, while the Lib Dems and Labour won 13,096 and 11,624 votes, respectively.

Sterling boosted by election ... but UK bonds may go the other way

Tommy Stubbington reports:

The election result has buoyed sterling. But it could capsize gilts, according to RBC Capital Markets.

UK government debt -- along with other haven bonds around the world -- already sold off sharply on Thursday afternoon on signs of progress towards a US-China trade deal. The 10-year gilt yield, which rises as prices fall, surged from 0.74 per cent to 0.82 per cent.

Boris Johnson’s emphatic majority should extend the sell-off when markets reopen in a few hours by lifting UK political uncertainty and focusing investors’ minds on Conservative plans for higher borrowing, according to Peter Schaffrik of RBC. He said: “The stabilisation in global indicators is already pushing the gilt yields towards 1 per cent and the domestic results overnight should push this narrative on.”

Beast of Bolsover ousted

Andy Bounds reports from Clowne:

In the end the “Beast of Bolsover” went out without even a whimper.

Dennis Skinner, the lion of the left, has lost his seat after 49 years as the Conservatives made deep gains in Labour heartlands. Mr Skinner, dubbed the “Beast of Bolsover” because of his combative style, did not even turn up to face defeat at the count in Clowne leisure centre.

Labour’s representatives walked out just before the result was declared.

He lost by 5,299 votes to Conservative rival Mark Fletcher in the former coal mining area where he once worked at a pit.

Voters in the Leave-voting constituency ousted Mr Skinner, 87, despite his support for quitting the EU. Bolsover voted for Brexit by 70 per cent, one of the highest tallies in the country, in the referendum in June 2016.

Mr Skinner was first elected in 1970 and would have been the longest-serving MP had he been re-elected. His majority in 2017 of 5,288 had dropped from 27,149 in the Labour landslide of 1997.

Labour has held Bolsover since it was carved out of a wider area of Derbyshire in 1950. But the beast was wounded in May when his party lost control of the council.

Mr Fletcher, 34, said that dislike of Jeremy Corbyn was the main factor behind his victory. “Anti-Corbyn sentiment was the biggest thing I picked up on the doorstep. Brexit would be number two. Number three would be the sense on not being listened to, taken for granted.”

He said the Conservatives must now prove they are the party of the working class by investing in the National Health Service and improving public transport outside London.

Allan Bailey, a retired miner and independent councillor, said. “Skinner is a coward. The least he could do is turn up.” He said most voters wanted the Leave result in the referendum to be delivered.

"We have had a democratic vote and we should abide by that democratic vote.”

With Mr Skinner absent, it was left to Mr Fletcher to pay tribute to him. The Conservative said in his victory speech: “He has been a wonderful constituency MP and he has inspired millions of people. I have not found a street I have walked up and down in this constituency where he has not helped somebody. Dennis….the love and affection of the people of Bolsover are very much still with you.”

Breakaway centrist candidates all fall short

It has developed into a terrible night for moderate MPs who shifted parties during the course of the last parliament.

None of the high-profile defectors to the Liberal Democrats have won their seats.

Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna and Sam Gyimah all failed in their London constituencies as the Remain vote split and let the Conservative candidates through.

Former Tories Dominic Grieve and David Gauke also both lost in their former constituencies after running against their own party, while none of the Change UK/Independent group breakaways have held their seats.

William Wallis has been watching Mr Gauke's fight in south-west Hertfordshire:

Gagan Mohindra, a local councillor from Essex, won for the Conservatives with 30,327 votes to Mr Gauke’s 15,919. He said in different times the two would have been colleagues and he was sad that this would not be the case.

But that the results nationally showed that people “want the Brexit paralysis to be over”.

Mr Gauke said his own result as an independent showed that there was still a “yearning in the UK for the pragmatic centre ground”.

UK executives breathe 'sigh of relief' but remain cautious

Daniel Thomas reports:

Business leaders and senior FTSE executives promised to unlock investment if the majority Conservative government brings greater stability, but called on Boris Johnson to deliver a Brexit deal that will boost confidence in the UK economy.

Many British companies have concerns about the Conservatives’ Brexit strategy, warning repeatedly over the damage to their operations from leaving the EU. But there had also been fears about the prospect of a Labour government forcing through a programme of sweeping nationalisation.

Paul Lynam, chief executive of FTSE-listed Secure Trust Bank, said businesses had deferred investment while waiting for political and Brexit clarity. “A Tory majority government should create an environment more supportive of business and enterprise, which will help instill the confidence necessary to drive increased investment and job creation.”

Eric Benedict, head of the UK at AlixPartners, the corporate advisor, said there would be “a collective sigh of relief in boardrooms across the UK”. But, he added, British business should not be considering this “a magic bullet” given Brexit “remains a significant, opaque and likely enduring challenge”.

Brent Hoberman, a British tech entrepreneur, said there were “hundreds of deals held back because of fear of a hung parliament or Corbyn government. We expect a boost in business confidence and people to start investing again in the UK.”

He hoped that the large Tory majority “could lead to a softer, more business friendly Brexit”.

Tories on track for biggest win since Thatcher

The results are almost all in, and they show that the Conservatives have executed their strategy near perfectly in this election.

Boris Johnson’s party is forecast to win between 360 and 365 seats, which would be its best result since it won 376 seats under Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

Labour has crept over the 200-seat mark, but the party is still heading for an even worse performance than its showing under Michael Foot in 1983. Jeremy Corbyn’s party has won 201 seats so far. It won 209 following Mr Foot's left-wing 'longest suicide note in history' manifesto. You have to go back to 1935 to find a worse result for Labour, when Clement Attlee won 154 seats.

Johnson gives victory speech at Conservative HQ

Boris Johnson, who will return to Downing Street with a sizeable majority, has been lauding "a day I think many of us dreamed of" as he gives a victory speech at Conservative headquarters.

Listen to the speech here courtesy of Seb Payne:

Goldman says 'considerable economic challenges' still loom for Johnson

Boris Johnson's decisive election victory will help relieve the uncertainty that has dragged on UK economic growth, but "considerable" challenges remain, Goldman Sachs has warned.

The investment bank said that Mr Johnson's majority in parliament should help relieve the persistent angst that has held back growth. It reckons the economy will remain subdued early next year but forecasts "a material acceleration in activity is likely to follow through 2021 and 2022."

The bank said in a note to clients early on Friday:

Clarity on the UK’s terms of exit from the EU has the potential to unlock pent-up business investment, a pick-up in global growth should underpin the impulse from external demand, and the reversal of a decade of fiscal consolidation looks set to stimulate the domestic economy.

However, Goldman cautioned that "the macroeconomic challenges on the horizon remain considerable."

The scope and timing of EU-UK trade negotiations will be instrumental in the evolution of the balance of risks. In our central scenario, despite the commitment made in the Conservative Party manifesto, we have prime minister Johnson requesting an extension of the post-Brexit transition period, beyond December 2020. A 78-seat majority in the House of Commons will likely make this pivot easier for PM Johnson to execute — not least because the Eurosceptic faction within his own Conservative Party will be less pivotal in the passage of key Brexit legislation.

But given Mr Johnson’s intention to negotiate a “best-in-class” free-trade agreement with the EU in eleven months (a timeframe that history suggests is especially ambitious), there remains a significant risk that the PM threatens to terminate the transition period at the earliest opportunity.

Emoticon Trump: Britain and US free to strike trade deal

President Trump has said Boris Johnson's election victory leaves Britain and the US "free to strike a massive new trade deal" after Brexit.

Many prominent eurosceptics have long seen a trade deal with the US as one of the key benefits from leaving the EU. But Labour spent the campaign highlighting the strong relationship between Messrs Trump and Johnson, and the possibility of the NHS being a pawn in any trade negotiations.

Johnson says he has a 'stonking' mandate for Brexit and beyond

Boris Johnson told supporters this morning the scale of the Conservatives' victory represented a mandate not just to get Brexit done, but to deliver on its entire agenda.

"The people of this country have given us tonight a huge great stonking mandate," he told a jubilant crowd at Conservative HQ.

And they have given us this mandate of course because they want us to do one thing which you all know. They want us to get Brexit done. It is absolutely overwhelming. No one can now refute that. No one could possibly dispute that it is the will of the British people to get Brexit done.

But he added that people would not have given the Tories "a mandate on this scale" if they did not also want the party to "deliver on the other objectives that our people care about so passionately".

They trust us not just to get Brexit done. They trust us because we are a great one nation party.

He said the party had created an "earthquake" and "changed the political map of this country".

Look at us now. We win in Kensington and we win in Clwyd South. That is a party that speaks for the entire country.

Women in parliament reach new record

Federica Cocco reports:

The UK is on track to have the largest number of female MPs in the country's history. Labour leads the way with 104 female MPs elected, a fall from 119 in the 2017 elections. Female Conservatives candidates have won 86 seats, a considerable rise from 67 female MPs in 2017.

In total this parliament has 218 female MPs so far - that is just over a third of the total.

Lib Dems have two new leaders

An abject evening for the Liberal Democrats. The party has secured only 11 MPs, and its leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in East Dunbartonshire.

The party has just announced that Sir Ed Davey and Baroness Sal Brinton will become its joint acting leaders.

Sterling on track for biggest rise in almost three years

Tommy Stubbington reports:

The pound shot higher as currency traders moved to price in an emphatic victory for the Conservative party in the UK general election, after Boris Johnson secured an overall majority in parliament.

Sterling climbed 2.7 per cent to $1.351, its highest level against the US dollar since May 2018, putting it on course for the biggest rise since early 2017. The UK currency reached its highest level against the euro since December 2016, hitting €1.207.

Investors and analysts said a Conservative victory removed some of the uncertainty clouding the UK’s path towards leaving the EU, allowing Mr Johnson to get his Brexit deal through parliament.

“The market is now pricing in some certainty about UK politics but, more importantly, some certainty about Brexit,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. “This should be a path to a stronger economy, at least in the short term.”

A large majority for Mr Johnson will afford the prime minister greater flexibility in upcoming trade talks with the EU, leaving him less beholden to his party’s hardcore Eurosceptics, said Geoffrey Yu, head of the UK investment office for UBS Wealth Management.

Read the full story.

Britain voted to 'get Brexit done', says Gove

Michael Gove, speaking on the stage set up in Westminster ahead of Boris Johnson's speech, says "today we celebrate a victory for the British people".

The electorate has "comprehensively" rejected the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's "politics of division, extremism and anti-Semitism".

Addressing specifically "our Jewish neighbours", Mr Gove said:

You have had to live in fear for months now, concerned we would have a prime minister who traficked in anti-Jewish rhetoric and and embraced anti-Jewish terrorists. You should never have to live in fear again."

These words are received by loud cheers and whoops in the audience.

"You voted for a prime minister dedicated to restoring trust and "getting Brexit done," the former cabinet minister continues.

"We will strive every day to live up to the confidence that you have shown us," Mr Gove says.

I want to thank those people who stepped outside their tribes and traditions to speak the truth, who said Jeremy Corbyn was unfit to be prime minister and that Boris Johnson was the right person to lead our country. (applause)

We were joined by so many other people who voted Labour all their life. They are the best of us in so many ways.

"Our victory is their victory," Mr Gove says, to much applause.

"Our victory is built on those who originally voted leave and wanted that vote to be honoured," he adds. "But it was also built on those who chose remain but who believe above all that democratic votes must be respected."

Johnson restates commitment to ‘get Brexit done’ by January 31

Boris Johnson promised voters he would deliver Britain’s departure from the EU by the end of January and thanked the traditional Labour voters who have handed him the parliamentary majority to do so.

The prime minister, triumphant after dealing a historic defeat on the Labour party, expressed regret for fellow Conservatives who had lost seats through no fault of their own, while addressing crowds in Westminster.

As the final votes were counted, indicating a thumping Tory majority of over 80 seats, he said:

I have a message for everyone who voted for Brexit. You may only have lent us your vote, you may not be a natural Tory, and your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper, you may intend to return to Labour, I am humbled that you have put your trust in us. And I do not and will never take it for granted.

It is the irrefutable decision of the British people. I say respectfully that it is time to put a sock in the megaphone and give everyone some peace.

In the election your voice has been heard and about time too. I will get Brexit done by January 31 - no ifs, buts or maybes.

Markets poised to rally in response to Johnson win

Stock markets are poised to rise at the opening in a few minutes' time, says Anna Gross.

"Some investors see today as Christmas come early as we see a convergence of two critical political risks coming to some resolve,” says Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management. “Indications of a strong electoral outcome in the UK and developments towards a Phase 1 US-China trade deal have lifted the mood in the markets.”

Jefferies has prepared a handy list of 22 stocks to watch, which they believe will rise on the back of the decisive Conservative majority, as well as stocks to avoid given the pound’s likely rally.

Stocks on the cards to see significant gains this morning are utilities, banks, builders and retail, including:

BT Group plc
DFS Furniture
Persimmon
On the Beach Group
TUI
Britvic
J Sainsbury
Tesco
Morrison
Greencore
Royal Bank of Scotland
Paragon Banking Group
Severfield
Capita
Polypipe Group
Dart Group
Morgan Sindall Group
National Grid
Pennon Group
Severn Trent
SSE
United Utilities Group

Sectors likely to fall by a surge in the pound are miners and global industrials, according to Jefferies. These include:

InterContinental Hotels Group
British American Tobacco
Imperial Brands
Rentokil Initial
National Express Group
BAE Systems
Assura
Primary Health Properties

London midcap stocks surge at opening

The benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.7 per cent at the opening in London, following Boris Johnson's decisive victory in the general election, while the midcap index FTSE 250 climbed nearly 5 per cent, according to Bloomberg.

Ireland's main stock index meanwhile extends its gains to a 12-year high, Reuters says. The benchmark Iseq jumps 3.6 per cent to its highest since December 12 2007.

Shares surge following Tories' landslide victory

Daniel Thomas writes:

Shares in industries at risk of nationalisation under a Labour government — from BT’s broadband network and water providers to National Grid and Royal Mail — surged on Friday morning as part of a broader rally in the FTSE 350.

One of the more controversial proposals floated by the Labour party was the nationalisation of BT’s broadband network, Openreach, which had sparked concerns across the telecoms industry and weighed on the group's shares.

Shares in BT opened at 200p, a rise of 8 per cent, with investors welcoming the prospect of a Conservative government expected to invest in the UK’s broadband network alongside the telecoms group.

One telecoms executive, who did not want to be named, said that “with the prospect of a Labour lumberjack taking an axe to a competitive broadband market now behind us, it is important the Conservative government focuses on providing longer-term certainty and stability, so that investment in Britain can boom once again”.

The size of the Conservative victory supported shares in water, gas and power utilities. National Grid shares climbed 4 per cent. Centrica opened up 7.4 per cent, Pennon Group up 7.3 per cent, SSE and United Utilites at up 9.2 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively. Royal Mail, which also faced being brought back into state ownership, was trading at 244p, while Firstgroup, the transport operator, was at 118.8p.

The employers' organisation CBI estimated that Labour’s nationalisation would have cost an initial £196bn.

FT View: Johnson must fulfil one-nation pledge

The Financial Times' editorial following Boris Johnson's election victory urges the prime minister to fulfil his one-nation pledge, adding that the Conservatives have a duty to govern in the interests of all, not just those who backed Brexit.

You will find it here.

Two clouds over global economic growth are lifting

Investors should not get carried away with the UK election result and US-China trade pact, writes Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz’s chief economic adviser:

Wherever you look in financial markets this morning, the message from the sharp moves in prices is the same.

Markets believe that overnight political developments have brightened the economic and financial outlook and that this will enable stronger fundamentals to justify the elevated level of risk assets, such as equities, and push them higher still.

Two necessary short-term conditions have been established for this: positive results for the capital markets from the UK election and the US-China trade negotiations. What is needed now is the type of political follow-through that ensures that what is politically necessary is also sufficient for the economy.

The writer is president-elect of Queens’ College, University of Cambridge

Read the opinion piece in full here

UK stocks climb after Johnson victory

UK stocks gained in early Friday trading after a landslide victory for the Conservatives, writes Anna Gross.

The FTSE 100 climbed 1 per cent while the midcap FTSE 250 rose 4 per cent and the FTSE 350 rallied 1.5 per cent. The benchmark pan-European Stoxx 600 followed suit, gaining 1.5 per cent on hopes of an orderly Brexit to come.

With an eye to predictions from Jefferies, utilities, banks, builders and retailers are thriving.

Leading the gains are: homebuilder Persimmon with a 12 per cent surge, travel group On the Beach on 9 per cent and DFS Furniture by 8.6 per cent. Paragon is up 6.8 per cent, Severfield by close to 9 per cent and SSE 9.5 per cent. Outsourcing group Capita rose 8 per cent.

Sterling hangs on to most but not all gains following exit polls

From Katie Martin:

Sterling is holding on to most, but not all of the gains it enjoyed when exit polls at 10pm last night sent it shooting higher in one of its biggest ever rallies.

The high overnight was $1.351. Now, the pound stands at $1.3411, still a very respectable gain of 1.94 per cent.

The lack of a further rally now that UK trading is under way suggests that further meaningful gains may be hard to come by, a justification of the view that a Conservative win was largely baked into sterling's price.

"Don't chase the move in sterling," said Oliver Harvey at Deutsche Bank.

An optimistic view, from a market perspective, is that with a large majority Boris Johnson will be able to pivot Brexit policy towards a more economically pragmatic approach next year. A pessimistic view is the election result provides an endorsement to the hard-Brexit policy outlined in the Conservative Party manifesto. It remains to be seen which is accurate.

In addition, the election has distracted market attention from an increasingly worrisome economic outlook. Many of the warning signs that have accompanied previous recessions are flashing red. Much of this can be ascribed to continuing uncertainty about Brexit.

Unless the next government provides businesses with certainty the Brexit transition period will be extended beyond the end of 2020 and seek a closer economic relationship with the EU, we see limited prospects of a bounce-back in sentiment and investment."

Read more from Katie and Tommy Stubbington.

What Britain is reading over breakfast

As Britain wakes up to a decisive victory for Boris Johnson's Conservative party, the morning papers, which went to press before the definitive win was declared, are awash with election coverage:

The Times suggests the "Johnson landslide" could be the "worst result in 80 years" while the Brexit- and Tory-backing Daily Mail rejoices with its splash headline: "Boris set for a thumping win".

The mass-circulation Sun celebrates Mr Johnson’s renewed mandate with the headline "The Dog’s Bollox".

The centre-left Guardian adds that Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, will face pressure to quit in the "wake of his crushing defeat".

A picture of an exultant Boris Johnson posing for a selfie appears in the i as the paper says the prime minister has been “unleashed” on the country.

And here is the front page of the Financial Times:

Video analysis: Johnson wins big

FT Whitehall correspondent Sebastian Payne analyses the 2019 election results after a night in which the Tories defeated Labour in its traditional heartlands.

Luxembourg's prime minister calls on Johnson to deliver Brexit

Reports Michael Peel:

Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg prime minister, said the “clear majority” won by Boris Johnson meant there were “no excuses not to deliver now” on the Brexit deal.

“Boris won the election by telling everyone he wants to deliver,” he said. “So now it’s time for delivery.”

The outspoken Mr Bettel, who grabbed headlines with an impassioned speech on Brexit in September alongside an empty lectern supposed to have been occupied by his UK counterpart, said the decisive UK result was good for the EU27.

Asked for his most important messages to the incoming British government, he replied:

If they want to be present on European ground, it’s still European law and rules, not UK rules. But I think this is something they knew already before and it’s still real today. Nothing has changed.

He added: “It’s goods, it’s services…it’s also the citizens’ rights…all the guarantees that they need to have.”

I am sure that a lot of remainers voted for Boris Johnson because they are fed up with not knowing what is going to happen ⁠— they want to finish, arrive, basta, finito,” he said. “They wanted to have a clarification.”

UK stocks extend their gains

UK-listed shares have extended their surge in midmorning London trading, writes Anna Gross.

The FTSE 100 is edging towards 2 per cent gains, the FTSE 250 has risen 4.4 per cent, and the FTSE 350 has bounded up 2.3 per cent.

Leading the advance in the FTSE 100 this morning are a few key sectors: banks, builders, retailers and companies which had been trading down on fears of nationalisation.

Top of the list is Taylor Wimpey, which has gained 12.6 per cent. Close behind is housebuilder Persimmon which has gained 11.2 per cent. Royal Bank of Scotland is also up 11 per cent. Berkeley Group Holdings, the property developer, is up 10.3 per cent, while SSE, which was contemplated for nationalisation, is up 10 per cent.

In the FTSE 250, major gains have been made by Virgin Money, with a 16 per cent surge, Stagecoach at 13.4 per cent, Savills at 11.4 per cent and OneSaving Bank at 11 per cent.

Losses have been more muted and have been felt most by export companies vulnerable to a stronger pound, including manufacturers and pharma companies. Leading the pack is Rentokil, which is down, 2.5 per cent, as predicted by Jefferies this morning. Rolls Royce Holdings fell 1.6 per cent and GlaxoSmithKline is down 1.3 per cent.

It's not all cause for celebration though. Sarah Carlson, Moody's senior vice president and lead UK sovereign analyst, issued a note of caution for investors on a spree this morning:

Today’s result of a Conservative majority means that Brexit is likely to occur quite quickly.

However, Brexit-related uncertainty is unlikely to abate for more than a few months, given the relatively short transition period to which the Prime Minister is currently committed.

The UK’s other credit challenges, such as heightened fiscal risks and low productivity, will remain material in the absence of significant policy shifts.

Lex: The pound is the benchmark of Johnson’s fortunes

From the FT's Lex column:

Mercurial in his politics and personal life, Boris Johnson’s union with sterling is ever closer. The pound, more than the FTSE 100 or gilts, is the benchmark of the Tory leader’s fortunes. It rallied 2 per cent on his election victory. It is a tenth higher since his Brexit deal breakthrough in October.

The connection is apt. Sterling is the symbol of the UK Independence Party, whose thunder Mr Johnson has stolen. It rises when certainty does, sliding when chaos impends.

The strong showing for the Scottish National party may trigger the break-up of the UK. But the poll result is the least worst outcome for the City. Mr Johnson, a fellow pragmatist, is the devil it knows.

Read Lex in full here

Varadkar: UK on course for 'mighty new partnership' with EU

Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar said he believes that Britain and the EU can reach a post-Brexit agreement on “a mighty new economic partnership”, which he described as “a trade deal plus”.

Speaking as he arrived at today’s European summit in Brussels, he said that the agreement should “ensure we still have tariff-free and quota-free trade” while enshrining “a set of minimum standards so nobody feels there is unfair competition”.

“In my conversations with prime minister Johnson I think he’s probably in a similar space,” Mr Varadkar said. “Striking a trade deal by the end of 2020 is enormously ambitious but we won’t achieve it if we don’t try.”

The Irish leader said that an immediate priority for him would be to work with Mr Johnson on getting Northern Ireland’s Stormont assembly back up and running.

He said that Mr Johnson’s strong mandate would help in the talks to come with the EU, as Brussels would now be dealing with a strong negotiating partner who could win domestic approval.

The UK election result was a “relief” for Ireland, he said, spelling an end to years of “gridlock”.

FT's pull-out tabloid on the election -- out soon

The Financial Times has produced a tabloid on the general election that will be handed out at some London train stations from about midday.

Here's what to look out for:

http://blogs.ft.co...oid-front-page.pdf

Opinion: Corbyn’s outriders are shielding their leader from blame

Writes Miranda Green, FT deputy opinion editor:

Following Labour’s devastating defeat, observers have questioned how easy it will be to loosen the hard left’s grip — particularly since so many of the unseated Labour MPs were from the moderate wing, and any new leader will be chosen by members who have enthusiastically backed the party’s leftward march. The question now is whether the hard left will release its hold on Labour?

Read the opinion piece in full here

Business seeks 'reset' with Johnson after election win - CBI

The CBI will write to Boris Johnson later today to urge him to strike a pro-enterprise Brexit deal, writes Daniel Thomas.

Talking to the FT, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the UK’s biggest employers' group, said that her members wanted to “reset” the relationship with the government, which has weakened in recent years owing to the CBI’s long-standing concerns over the Conservatives’ Brexit strategy.

She said that the strong mandate handed to Boris Johnson would lift some of the uncertainty facing business, adding that her members also welcomed the end of the threat of the “more challenging policies” of the Labour party.

But she said that if the government wanted to see a “real boost to investment and job creation” then it needed to secure a business-friendly trade deal with the EU. “Only then will we see a big uplift in the economy.”

She called on Mr Johnson to reassure business that there was no threat of a no-deal Brexit, to show an immigration policy that would allow overseas staff to work in the UK across the economy, and to commit to major infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Johnson arrives at Buckingham Palace

Boris Johnson has made his way to Buckingham Palace, where he will ask the Queen for permission to form a new government.

Victory for pollsters in 2019

After getting the last two general elections and the Brexit referendum wrong, pollsters appear to have found their mojo again. Opinium is among those to point out their final polling estimates were spot on.

A point worth noting from this chart - the Green party got more votes than the Brexit party.

City dealmakers cheer UK election result

Top London-based dealmakers are predicting a pickup in inbound interest from foreign acquirers following Boris Johnson's victory on Thursday, writes Arash Massoudi.

One senior City banker said that the catalyst for the increased activity would be the removal of two sources of uncertainty that had hung over the country's economy: a no-deal Brexit and the prospect of what he called "a Marxist government" under Jeremy Corbyn.

A veteran transactions lawyer agreed that the election result would lift general confidence in the UK market, which should lead to more UK deal activity. However, this person noted the rise in sterling had reduced some of the discounts available to foreign buyers.

He added that house prices in upmarket areas such as in London's Kensington borough might be the biggest short-term beneficiary of the election result, given that so many of his clients had considered leaving the UK should Mr Corbyn have won.

North of England may seek extra investment, says NPP vice-chair

The north may well demand more investment to heal the divide between it and the south in return for its electoral support, says the vice-chair of the partnership with local and national government, Andy Bounds in Bolsover reports.

Jim O’Neill, the economist and vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a business-backed group set up about five years ago by former chancellor George Osborne, said:

Given the nature of how the Tories achieved this victory, as well as a mandate to get Brexit done as the PM has enjoyed saying throughout his campaign, presumably he will follow through on his pledges to help rebalancing the country’s economy and focus on improving the infrastructure of the country, boosting the education and skills needed to transform those areas left behind, which means voters in the North and Midlands will be boosted by their electoral support.

FT election tabloid now available at London train stations

If you're in the City of London or Canary Wharf, then you should be within walking distance to one of the train stations where the FT is handing out a free tabloid election special with all our overnight coverage. It looks like this.

UK banks jump amid broad stock market rally

UK bank stocks have been swept up in the rally that has taken hold since the surprisingly convincing victory for Boris Johnson's Conservative party, writes Ian Smith.

Royal Bank of Scotland shares rallied 10 per cent, while Virgin Money leapt 18 per cent. Barclays jumped 8 per cent.

"European equities and UK equities have seen very substantial outflows over the last 18 months. This has been down to a pervasive fear of politics and uncertainty driven by Brexit and more recently by the threat of Labour winning the UK election on a hard-left, anti-business platform," said Niall Gallagher, an investment director at GAM.

“These twin fears have discouraged asset allocators everywhere from investing across Europe (including the UK) with allocations low to both asset classes and both asset classes feeling almost friendless at times. We now expect business confidence in the UK to bounce back with knock-on effects into Europe."

Patients on trolleys at highest level ever, NHS England says

The number of NHS patients waiting on trolleys because of a lack of beds was at its highest level, according to figures for November, reports Sarah Neville.

For the first time not a single major A&E department met the four-hour waiting time target, NHS England figures show, as they highlight the challenge Boris Johnson faces in making good on his pledge to make the health service his priority.

“To tackle this, the new government really will need to deliver the 50,000 nurses promised – even if this means more reliance on migrants than they’ve said," Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think-tank, said.

We need a long-term commitment to funding for NHS infrastructure, not one-off announcements. And we need to finally see the overhaul of England’s failing social care system that has been pledged so many times.

European Council: ‘We are ready to start the next phase of Brexit’

Reports Mehreen Khan, EU correspondent:

Charles Michel, the new European Council president, has finished presiding over his first EU27 summit where leaders met with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and adopted a series of conclusions on the next stage of Brexit.

Mr Michel told reporters he had called Boris Johnson to congratulate him on his "clear victory".

"We expect the British parliament will vote as soon as possible on this Withdrawal Agreement. It is very important. We are ready to start the next phase," he said.

Ursula von der Leyen, commission president, said Brussels wanted the future relationship to be "as close as possible".

Mr Barnier today was also given a mandate to lead the trade talks. Ms Von der Leyen said:

"The timeframe [for trade talks] is very challenging. It is important for us in this moment that the UK will become a third country, but at the very end we will have an unprecedented partnership. This is not the end of something but the beginning of an excellent future relationship between good neighbours".

Sturgeon to put independence vote into motion within days

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National party, vows to push as soon as next week for an independence referendum, saying that last night's result in Scotland was an "overwhelming endorsement of our campaign, message and vision".

"The Scottish government will next week publish the detailed democratic case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge," Ms Sturgeon said at a speech in Edinburgh. "It is for the Scottish parliament not a Westminster government to decide whether and when there should be a new referendum on independence."

Calling yesterday's general election an "emphatic victory" and a "watershed moment", with the SNP winning 80 per cent of seats in Scotland, she added:

"Yet again we have said no to Brexit," she said. "The very future of Scotland was on the line."

"The people of Scotland have spoken. It is time now to decide our own future," she said.

That right to choose our own future has never been more urgent or more important.

She spoke directly to Boris Johnson: "And you of the leader of a defeated party in Scotland has no right to stand in the way. We will have full control of the power and leaders."

The SNP added 13 seats last night to tally 48, not quite 4 per cent of the national vote.

Lunchtime news round-up

It has been a climactic end to the 2019 election vote, as news of Boris Johnson’s “political earthquake” sank in across the country.

Here is a summary from this morning:

• Boris Johnson asked the Queen for permission to form a new government.

• Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National party, vows to lead the Scots towards independence and publish as soon as next week a "case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum"

• Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to resign — but not immediately. First, the party must undergo a period of “self-reflection”, he said, blaming Labour’s catastrophic losses of 59 seats on the media and widespread support for Brexit.

• Mr Johnson thanked northern voters from “red wall” constituencies for "lending" their votes, which secured the party a majority of 86 seats, gains not seen since the 1980s

• The pound enjoyed one of its biggest ever surges as sterling climbed almost 2 per cent after the results were declared and Mr Johnson pledged to deliver Brexit by January 31.

• Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her seat, although her party increased its share of the vote across the country.

• Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said he believed that Britain and the EU can reach a post-Brexit agreement on “a mighty new economic partnership”, which he described as “a trade deal plus”.

• UK stocks were boosted by the election and greater clarity on Brexit. The FTSE 100 climbed 1 per cent while the midcap. FTSE 250 rose 4 per cent and the FTSE 350 rallied 1.5 per cent.

Merkel sees Brexit creating 'a competitor on our doorstep'


Brexit will create “a competitor on our doorstep now, a country that is no longer a member of the single market”, Germany’s Angela Merkel told reporters in Brussels, writes Jim Brunsden in Brussels.

She stressed that the EU would do its best to negotiate a trade deal with the UK in the limited time available to the end of 2020, but that the talks would be complex given all the different aspects of the relationship between Britain and the EU27.

Corbyn likely to stay on into new year

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested he will linger on as Labour leader into early next year, waiting for the party's national executive to map out a timetable for picking his replacement. In an interview with UK broadcasters, he said:

The national executive will have to meet in the very near future and they will make that decision not me.

What I hope is that we have a period where there will be a discussion within the party. It will be in the early part of next year sometime.

I was elected to lead the party and I think the responsible thing to do is not to walk away.

When asked whether Corbynism was now dead, he said:

There is no such thing as Corbyninsm… there is socialism.

I don’t think [socialist ideas] are unelectable.

Macron insists France and UK 'bound by ties of shared history'

France's Emmanuel Macron said, to the question on the possibility for the UK to strike a quick trade deal with the EU: "Be my guest," but added that the progress of the negotiations would depend on the stance taken by Boris Johnson, writes Jim Brunsden in Brussels.

President Macron, speaking in Brussels at an EU leaders summit, stressed that both the timing and the ambition of talks would be dictated by how closely Britain is willing to stick to EU regulatory standards, endorsing comments from Angela Merkel that Brexit would "create a new economic competitor" at Europe's door.

"My message to the British is: the more we have reciprocity, the more the relationship can be integrated," Mr Macron said. "We cannot have extensive market access with no alignment."

The more the UK seeks to diverge, the more complex the talks will become, he added.

While Boris Johnson has insisted that Britain will not extend its post-Brexit transition period beyond the end of 2020, leaving 11 months to hammer out a trade deal with the EU, Macron said that past-experience with Brexit "shows us that we can't exclude delays, and it’s someone who doesn't like delays telling you this".

While setting out tough red lines for the talks to come, Mr Macron insisted that France and Britain were "bound by ties of shared history" that remain dear to the French, and that the UK would remain "a friend, partner and ally".

He signalled a hope that Britain might choose a future relationship model that would keep it very close to the EU even after leaving.

"Perhaps, perhaps one must keep hoping about that," he said.

Seats that flipped in general election

How do the victories look on the map?

Pound trims gains in mid-afternoon trade

Sterling touched a 17-month high during the London session before trimming some of its earlier gains, as traders gave a robust thumbs-up to Boris Johnson's resounding victory in the general election.

The currency hit $1.3514 in early trading, the highest since May last year, before sliding back slightly. It was recently trading 1.3 per cent higher at $1.3333 against the dollar. The pound climbed 1 per cent against the euro to €1.1938, or 83.7p.

"The pound rallied about 2.5 per cent after the exit polls," said Ian Tew, head of G10 currency spot trading at Barclays, adding that it maintained most of its gains as the results came in.

The size of the majority was a slight surprise to the market and the clarity gave a welcome boost in investor confidence.

Abrice Montagne, chief UK economist at Barclays, said:

The election has removed one layer of uncertainty and markets have reacted with exuberance even though UK future economic relationships still need to be defined.

In or out no more

No more second referendum.

The grassroots campaigning movement the People’s Vote has closed its doors, dashing all hope of a second referendum being held on the UK's membership of the EU.

The group said it "will now refocus its campaign to concentrate on vital social issues
that this government must urgently prioritise in its Brexit negotiations".

We will remain a grassroots campaigning group who will act on issues of social inequality.

We will put pressure on the government to stop them sacrificing opportunities for the poor and vulnerable, removing citizens’ rights, undermining the NHS and reducing job security in pursuit of a destructive Brexit driven by a hard-right minority.

Here's their full statement:

Final seat tally confirmed with St Ives result

The Liberal Democrats failed in their bid to win the Cornish seaside constituency of St Ives, giving us the final result of the general election of 2019.

The Tory win confirms the final seat totals as:

Conservatives 365 (+47)
Labour 203 (-59)
SNP 48 (+13)
Liberal Democrat 11 (-1)
DUP 8 (-2)
Sinn Fein 7 (-)
Plaid Cymru 5 (-)
SDLP 2 (+2)
Alliance 1 (+1)
Green 1 (-)

Johnson: let the healing begin


Boris Johnson has addressed the nation on the steps of No. 10 Downing street, and has immediately offered an olive branch to those who voted Remain in the 2016 referendum.

He says it is time to "find closure and let the healing begin" after years of discord and rancour. "This country deserves a break from wrangling."

To those who voted Tory for the first time, he promised to deliver a government that works for them: "Thank you for the trust you have placed in us and in me."

And to pro-Europeans who did not back the Conservatives, he said: "I want you to know that we in this one nation conservative government will never ignore your good and positive feelings of warmth towards the other nations of Europe".

He vowed to protect the National Health Service and build a new partnership with our "friends" in the EU.

He promised to "bring together" the UK's union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: "We are going to unite and level up," he said, "unleashing the potential of the whole country and delivering opportunity across the entire nation".

Oh, Jeremy Corbyn

Opinium has released data offering an initial (and rather basic) assessment of why voters fled Labour. The overwhelming answer is simple: the leadership of the party.

Markets deliver a thumbs-up to Johnson's resounding win

Markets have ended the week higher as Boris Johnson settles into No. 10 Downing Street after his resounding election victory and lays out his plans for 2020.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index was about 1.4 per cent higher on the day, bringing its weekly gain to not quite 2 per cent as housebuilders, utility and telecoms groups breathed a sigh of relief over the Conservative victory.

Leading the charge in London were UK housebuilders: Taylor Wimpey climbed 14.5 per cent, closely followed by Berkeley with a 14 per cent rise. Barratt Development gained 13.5 per cent on Friday. Water company Severn Trent added 9 per cent while BT Group jumped 7 per cent.

Sterling advanced 1.3 per cent in afternoon trading against the dollar, recently at $1.3331. Against the euro, the pound rose 1.3 per cent to €1.1977, or 83.46p.

Thank you and goodnight

We're going to call it a day. But you'll find plenty more news, analysis and opinion throughout the weekend in the various corners of ft.com

Thanks for joining us.

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