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The UK general election marks a turning point with Labour returning to power, ending 14 years of Conservative rule. Here are the five main takeaways from election night.

– Landslide victory for Labour, but not historic
With 410 seats and a clear majority according to the results on Friday morning taking into account 639 of the 650 constituencies, the Labour Party (centre-left) is making a strong comeback.

In particular, the party has recovered many deindustrialised constituencies in the north of the country, the “red wall” long taken for granted, but which had been attracted by the promises of Brexit and the investments touted by former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reduce regional inequalities.

Contrary to what the polls suggested at the end of the campaign, Labour's victory should therefore remain lower than that of Tony Blair in 1997 (418 seats).

And the re-election of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (2015-2020), expelled for his handling of accusations of anti-Semitism within the party, in his London constituency is an affront to Keir Starmer and a thorn in the side of the future government. Very left-wing, he will not fail to use the platform of Parliament to criticize the centrist policy promised by his successor.

So the turnout of just under 60%, well below five years ago, is a worrying sign of the lack of enthusiasm that accompanies Labour's victory, attributed more to rejection of the Conservatives than to Labour's programme or its uncharismatic leader.

– Breakthrough of the hard right
Shock in British politics: the anti-immigration and anti-establishment party Reform UK has managed to win four seats. This is still below the 13 MPs predicted by the first exit polls on Thursday evening.

Penalised by a voting system that favours the big parties, Reform still came second in a significant number of constituencies, ahead of the Conservatives. This is a sign of a groundswell in its favour, particularly in the working-class north of England.

Its leader, the fervent promoter of Brexit Nigel Farage, 60, himself elected – after seven unsuccessful attempts – in the constituency of Clacton-on-Sea (east), saw it as “the first step of something that will astound you all”.

– Conservative tenors defeated
“Massacre”, “catastrophe”, “Waterloo”… There was no shortage of thunderous adjectives for this historic defeat with around 120 seats for the Tories, triumphant in 2019. The hardest part begins for the conservatives, forced to rebuild at a time when they are divided on their political line.

Nine senior ministers from the outgoing government were defeated, a record. Several other big names narrowly saved their seats, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and party chairman Richard Holden, who won by just 20 votes.

The final slap in the early morning: the elimination of former Prime Minister Liz Truss, without regret after her 49 days in power in 2022, marked by a financial crisis due to her budgetary errors. A signal sent to the Tories for the future, while some saw in her the incarnation of a libertarian right à la Donald Trump.

– In Scotland, the crisis worsens for the independentists
Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted it straight away: “It's not a good night for the SNP”, the Scottish National Party which has dominated local politics for around fifteen years.

He has been relegated from third to fourth place in the Westminster parliament with eight MPs out of 57 seats representing Scotland, compared to 48 previously. This is yet another setback for the SNP, which has been destabilized since the surprise resignation of the charismatic Nicola Sturgeon last year. Her successor lasted only a year.

The left-wing party is still the subject of an investigation into its funding and lacks a strategy for gaining independence, a fight that was revived for a time by Brexit but blocked by London.

Labour has become dominant again in the territory, as it was until 2010.

But the bet is lost for Prime Minister John Swinney, who had hoped that winning a majority of constituencies would allow him to demand new negotiations from the British government. And the SNP will now be less audible on the national political scene.

Mr Swinney admitted the SNP was currently not “winning the debate” on independence and would face “a challenge”.

– The Lib Dems' comeback
No one saw the Liberal Democrats coming, a pro-European party swept away in 2019 and now facing competition in the centre from Labour's new positioning.

He created a surprise with 70 MPs, the best result in his history, beyond his successes of the early 2000s which led the “LibDems” to participate in a coalition with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015.

The party is benefiting from the rejection of the Conservatives, who have drifted to the right since Brexit, among the centre-right electorate. But also from the improbable strategy of its leader Ed Davey, who has assumed to entertain the gallery throughout the campaign – on a slide, a paddle or a roller coaster – to attract media attention to his proposals – improving the management of dependency or fighting against the pollution of rivers.

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