Exit polls are projecting a loss of Conservative seats in the U.K. general election, in a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May and her party. Reuters reports that May will win 314 seats, short of the 326 needed for a majority in the 650-seat Parliament, according to exit polls released after voting ended Thursday.
If the projections are correct and the Conservatives lose their majority, May could remain prime minister. But it would require a coalition with other parties.
"If the poll is anything like accurate, this is completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and for Theresa May," former British Finance Minister George Osborne told ITV News, according to Reuters. "It's difficult to see if these numbers were right, how they would put together the coalition to remain in office. But equally it's quite difficult looking at those numbers to see how Labour could put together a coalition, so it's on a real knife edge."
The pound fell sharply, losing more than two cents against the dollar, after exit polls showed the Conservatives failing to keep their majority, The Associated Press reports.
NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who watched the results from London, told All Things Considered that many in the room of journalists and political scientists where she was "gasped and even yelled" when the results came in, "it was so shocking that she lost this many seats."
Beardsley said that if projections hold, May will have to put together a coalition to govern, and a hung Parliament is possible. Just a month ago, Beardsley said, May was talking about winning a 100-seat majority.
Exit polls also projected major losses by Scottish nationalists, according to the AP, a hindrance to their plan to vote for independence.
May called for the snap election two months ago, and at the time, her party was expected to win by wide margins. In polls leading up to the campaign's final day, May's lead over Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was seen shrinking to 6 percentage points. Voting closed at 10 p.m. BST — or 5 p.m. ET.