Britain goes to the polls on Thursday in an election that could return a range of outcomes, all with major implications for the future of the country.
Here are five possible scenarios that could emerge overnight between Thursday and Friday:
|Lose 71+||Labour majority||Labour government||Jeremy Corbyn’s wildest dreams come true|
|Lose 7-70||Hung parliament||Labour minority government||Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected triumph, but he would need support (or abstention) of other parties to become PM|
Lose up to 6; gain up to 3
|Hung parliament||No change||Disaster for Conservatives, who would still need DUP support to form a government and so Boris Johnson would need a new Brexit deal|
|Gain 4-14||Tory working majority of 1-21||Johnson weak and stable||Boris Johnson could probably take us out of the EU, but trade negotiations after that would look tricky|
|Gain 15+||Tory working majority of 23+||Johnson dominant||Historic win: the biggest for the Tories since 1987; Johnson with a mandate for a hard Brexit and five years in power|
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What is a majority?
The absolute majority matters in comparing with previous elections. In 2015 David Cameron’s absolute majority was 12, the difference between the number of Conservative seats, 331, and all other parties, 319, in a House of Commons of 650. But because there were then five Sinn Fein MPs who didn’t take their seats, Cameron had a working majority of 17 (331 to 314).
The working majority matters to a government trying to get its laws through parliament. So Boris Johnson needs to gain just four seats to gain a working majority of one (if Sinn Fein still has seven seats). The Conservatives had 318 seats at the last election, including the speaker (Buckingham originally being a Conservative seat and counting as one this time), so four net gains would give them 322, as against 321 for all the other parties.