General Election result: When will we know who has won?

General Election result: When will we know who has won?

General elections can be brutal, with dreams shattered and hopes realised.

There will be tears, joy, relief and exhaustion late on Thursday night and early Friday morning as the election results come in from across the UK after gruelling campaigns.

But when will we know the result of who is Britain’s next Prime Minister?

In a way we already do.

Sir Keir Starmer will walk through the door of No10 on Friday unless the opinion polls turned out to be historically wrong, and they would have to be so, so wrong.

Nothing is impossible, however very few people would bet against the Labour leader taking over as Prime Minister given many polls put his party around 20 points ahead and the Tories on record, or close to record, lows.

But until it happens, it doesn’t happen.

Follow all the latest results as they come on our General Election 2024 liveblog

So, the first piece of evidence the nation will get will be shortly after 10pm following the closing of the polls.

The exit poll will give the first snap glimpse of how many seats each party may have won and what the Commons majority might be.

In recent elections it has proved quite accurate, but you wouldn’t bet your house on it.

In 2019, the exit poll predicted a Conservative majority of 86 seats, which was very close to the final 80-seat margin of victory.

Two years earlier, it correctly predicted the Conservatives would be the largest party, but the exit poll stopped short of saying there would be a hung Parliament after Theresa May’s snap spring election.

In 2015, the exit poll proved more accurate than opinion polls at the time, but it did not predict a Conservative majority.

So in a nutshell, the exit poll is still a poll and not a single vote has been counted when it is announced.

The first result is due to come in at 11.30pm, Blyth & Ashington, and then Houghton & Sunderland South 15 minutes later, though all these estimated declaration times could be significantly off due to boundary changes and other factors.

There may now be very tentative signs of how badly, dismally or better than expected the Tories have performed, and how much damage Nigel Farage’s Reform UK has inflicted on Rishi Sunak’s party.

At 12.15am it’s over to Basildon & Billericay and Swindon South.

If Tory chairman Richard Holden loses in the Essex seat and former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland in Swindon it could be the start of a very grim night for the Conservatives.

More results come in over the next one hour and 45 minutes, including the first two in London, Putney and Tooting, but it’s still not a rush.

But at 2am a couple of dozen are due including some marginals which will start to fill in the picture including Redcar, Peterborough and Darlington, and watch out for Essex North West where Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch is facing a late attempt by Labour to seize this previously safe Tory area.

Another two dozen results should be announced around 2.30am, including Sir Keir Starmer’s in Holborn and St Pancras.

The Standard has a guide to the expected declaration times in London and has also compiled an interactive map of all of the 75 constituencies in the capital so people can find out who are the candidates for the five main parties, details of boundary changes, and some predictions.

By 3am the results should be pouring in, with around 100 announcements due, including marginals Blackpool South, Bolton North East, Chingford & Woodford Green in London, and Islington North where Jeremy Corbyn is standing against Labour.

At this hour, if Labour is going to storm to a landslide win, it should be increasingly clear that it is on course to do that.

Another 100 or so results are due in around 3.30am including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in Godalming and Ash in Surrey.

The rush of announcements is due to turn into a torrent around 4am with slightly less than 150 results expected, including Mr Sunak in Richmond and Northallerton.

The map of Britain will be turning increasingly red by now if the polls were right.

The declarations may slow slightly but are still expecting to be coming in around 100 an hour, picking up for another wave shortly after 5am, including far flung Orkney & Shetland around 5.30am.

Announcements will then slow quite considerably, before the final results are expected to limp in around 6.30am, including a couple in Ilford.

So the picture will build throughout the night.

But by the time most people wake up in Britain, the result should be crystal clear.