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Home Secretary Jack Straw
"We are being returned with a thumping majority"
 real 56k

Conservative party chairman Michael Ancram
"I am very proud of all our candidates"
 real 56k

Lib Dem Shirley Williams
"I think we are going to end the night doing a lot better than the polls suggest"
 real 28k

The BBC's Peter Snow
looks at the exit polls
 real 56k

Friday, 8 June, 2001, 01:54 GMT 02:54 UK
Labour set for landslide
Cherie and Tony Blair
Mr Blair said Labour was on the verge of making history
The Labour Party appears set for a second general election landslide.

Tony Blair said it was a historic moment for Labour - the party has never won a full second term before.

People want us to carry on the work we have begun

Tony Blair
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy congratulated the prime minister adding that his party was building on its own success of four years ago.

A BBC exit poll suggests Labour could be returned with a slightly reduced majority with the Tories making small gains and the Liberal Democrats winning more seats.

However, indications across the UK suggest turnout may be the lowest since 1918, down 11% to 60%.

Lib Dem gains

The Conservatives have gained seats from Labour in Romford, Upminster and Castle Point.

However, the party has lost out to the Lib Dems in the key seats Cheadle, Dorset Mid & Poole North and Guildford.

It also failed to stop the Lib Dems from increasing its majority in the marginal seat of Torbay.

And the party is expected to come fourth Scotland for the first time in its history, failing to win any seats.

The Sun newspaper
The Sun has already hailed the result
Labour made its first gain early in the night when it won the Welsh seat of Ynys Mon formerly held by Plaid Cymru.

It retained St Helens with former Tory frontbencher Shaun Woodward while former minister Peter Mandelson was re-elected in Hartlepool.

However, Labour lost out to an independent candidate in Wyre Forest fighting against the closure of a local hospital.

It also lost Tony Benn's former seat of Chesterfield to the Lib Dems.

The first of a flurry of declarations came at 2243 BST in Sunderland South in record time with Labour expected to pass the winning post of 330 seats shortly.

The BBC exit poll suggests that Labour has taken 44% of the vote, the Conservatives 32%, the Liberal Democrats 17% and others 7%.

That would give Labour 408 seats - a majority of 160 - the Conservatives 177, Liberal Democrats 44 MPs and others 30.

At the 1997 general election Labour had 418 MPs, William Hague's Tories had 165 and Charles Kennedy's Liberal Democrats had 46.

William Hague and his wife Ffion
Mr Hague is heading for defeat
If the poll results prove accurate, Tony Blair looks set for a historic second full term as Labour prime minister.

Speaking earlier he said: "Tonight for the first time in 100 years of our history, it looks as if we will be on the verge of a second successive term in office."

Mr Blair said he was determined to fulfill the expectations of voters.

"A scond term is not just a big moment in our party's history but in our country's history as well."

He added: "People want us to carry on the work we have begun."

The results of the BBC exit poll compare with a MORI exit poll for ITV which suggests a Labour majority of 185, and gains for the Lib Dems.

Turnout worries

Chancellor Gordon Brown, the first cabinet minister to be returned to the Commons, said the results so far showed "Labour was winning the battle of ideas".

If we have gone down to a bad defeat everyone in the party should draw breath, I don't think anybody should take precipitious action

Michael Portillo
He added: "People recognise we have started but still have a lot to do. The electorate expects us to get on with the job if we are re-elected tomorrow."

Labour's chief spokesman Alastair Campbell said: "We are in for a very good night."

But Education Secretary David Blunkett added: "We have got to rejoice and be happy, but then draw breath and decide how to engage with people."

Charles Kennedy
Kennedy: It's a historic night
Former minister Lord Brittan said the Tory leadership had made a "huge strategic misjudgement" by concentrating the election campaign on Europe and asylum seekers.

This had shown the Tories to be quite "shrill and extremist", he said.

But shadow chancellor Michael Portillo, who was re-elected in Kensington and Chelsea, urged restraint within the party.

"This is another very disappointing result for us. It should lead to a period of reflection.

"I hope no-one will say anything hasty in the coming hours and days that any of us might wish to regret thereafter."

He paid tribute to the campaign "so skilfully" run by Mr Hague.


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