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British PM Johnson hails 'powerful mandate' for Brexit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has won a resounding overall majority in the United Kingdom's snap general election.

Official results from Thursday's poll showed the Conservatives had won 358 of the 650 seats up for grabs in the House of Commons as of 06:05am (06:05 GMT) on Friday, with results in eight seats still to be declared. Turnout was about 67 percent.

The Conservatives' performance points to a major reconfiguration of Britain's political map and paves the way for Johnson to take the UK out of the EU by the end of next month, as he has repeatedly pledged to do.

Speaking in the early hours of Friday morning, Johnson said voters appeared to have given his government a "powerful new mandate to get Brexit done".

"I think this will turn out to be a historic election that gives us now, in this new government, the chance to respect the democratic will of the British people, to change this country for the better and to unleash the potential of the entire people of this country," he said at the vote count in his London constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

More than 45 million voters were registered to take part in the poll, the UK's third since 2015.

Corbyn to stand down as leader

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, announced he would not be heading another election campaign after Thursday's crushing defeat.

Labour had won 203 seats as of the count at 06:05am (06:05 GMT) on Friday.

Speaking at a vote count in his north London constituency of Islington, Corbyn, 70, described Labour's performance as "very disappointing" before saying he would lead the party for an interim period while it discussed its future in a "period of reflection".

Several of Labour's so-called "Red Wall" strongholds across England's Midlands and north - many of which voted in favour of leaving the EU in the UK's 2016 referendum on membership of the bloc - fell to the Conservatives.

Weary Labour candidates taking in the scale of their defeat also said Corbyn's leadership had played a major role in the party's overall performance.

Among the smaller parties, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats had picked up 11 seats by the latest count. Party leader Jo Swinson lost her seat to the Scottish National Party (SNP), however, which had won 48 the 59 seats available in Scotland.

"Some will be celebrating the wave of nationalism that is sweeping on both sides of the border," said Swinson, who only became Liberal Democrat leader in July. "These are very significant results for the future of our country."

Swinson did not say whether she would now step down as leader of her party.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister and SNP leader, said Johnson did not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the EU.

"We don't want Brexit," Sturgeon said. "Boris Johnson may have a mandate to take England out of the European Union, he emphatically does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the European Union."

Sturgeon is now expected to press ahead with demands for a second referendum on Scottish independence after a poll in 2014 saw breaking away from the rest of the UK rejected by 55 percent of voters.

Source: Aljazeera News


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