David Cameron is on course for an extraordinary victory as ‘shy Tories’ came out at the last moment to keep him in Downing Street. He said it was ‘too early to say’ what the final result of the General Election would be, but added that there was ‘the chance now to build on the foundation’ laid in the last parliament.
But the Tory leader will have to deal with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon who is cleaning up north of the border, leaving Scotland as a near one-party state.
In a signal that he now accepts he will not be PM, Mr Miliband said the next government ‘has a huge responsibility’ to hold the UK together.
The SNP tide has swept aside Labour and Lib Dem big beasts including Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander in a tide of nationalism which has already sparked calls for a second independence referendum.
There are doubts that Mr Miliband will survive as leader until Friday lunchtime, as he faces being left with 17 fewer seats than Gordon Brown, slumping to 239.
Some 50million people were eligible to vote in the most closely fought campaign in a generation. Opinion polls in recent weeks had Labour and the Tories neck and neck, suggesting Britain faced political deadlock.
But an exit poll released at 10pm on Thursday suggested voters switched to the Conservatives at the last moment, giving Mr Cameron an unexpected but welcome boost.