Election 2017

Election 2017: The Headland guide to election night

From a 20-point Conservative lead, to a hung Parliament (depending whose polls you look at): opinions vary considerably on what the political landscape will look like on Friday morning. For those planning on pulling an all-nighter, here are some milestones to look out for. It's worth noting that delays are always possible – a close result can often mean a recount and later declaration.

10pm: Exit poll

The BBC, ITV and Sky jointly commission an exit poll which is designed to give an early sense of how the nation voted. These polls have proved to be highly accurate in recent elections. Back in 2015, Paddy Ashdown was forced to eat an edible hat live on air after he challenged the correct prediction of big losses for the Liberal Democrats.

11pm: First result

For the sixth election running, Sunderland’s constituencies are expected to be the first to declare. While these seats should remain in Labour’s hands, changes in the share of vote could be an indication of things to come. If anything affects Labour’s vote share it’s likely to be the Brexit referendum: this part of the country showed high levels of support for Leave last year.

1.30am: First marginal seats declare

In 2015, the Tory victory in the bellwether seat of Nuneaton was the moment that Cameron said he knew his party had won. This year, the results of three Labour-held seats across the country - Wrexham, Tooting and Darlington - will show whether the Tories are on course to make significant gains, or if we’re going to be looking at a hung parliament.

2.30am: Corbyn’s seat

A very safe Labour seat but, dependent on the results so far, Corbyn’s victory speech could hint at the future of his position if Labour losses are mounting up. Watch out for the seat of Vale of Clywd as well. This is a key Labour target, with the Conservatives winning by just 237 votes at the last election.

3am: Key Scottish results

Three major Tory targets in Scotland are due to come in, which will indicate whether the party’s message has been successful north of the border. These include the constituency of Moray, which polled the highest Leave vote in Scotland and is the seat of the SNP’s Deputy Leader Angus Robertson.

3.30am: Blair’s former seat

The Conservatives need an 8.8-point swing in Sedgefield to turn the former PM’s seat blue. Should they win, this might suggest the party is set for a big majority. We will also start to have a clear sense of the Brexit effect, with the Tories hoping to make gains in Labour’s Northern and Midlands heartlands. Mansfield and Great Grimsby, both voting heavily in favour for Leave, are key targets for the Tories.

4am: Lib Dem key seats

A number of Lib Dem heavyweights are seeking to win back seats in Remain-leaning constituencies: Vince Cable and Ed Davey are looking to claw their seats back from the Conservatives, and Simon Hughes from Labour. For the Tories, results in Labour-held Stoke-on-Trent North and Walsall North will be further evidence of how Brexit has influenced voting.

4:30am: Theresa May and Nick Clegg’s seats

While Theresa May’s seat looks safe with a 30,000 majority in Maidenhead, the real test for the Tories will be in the Midlands. A win for Conservative candidate Robert Alden in Birmingham Erdington, homeland of the PM’s Chief of Staff Nick Timothy, would be a symbolic victory for the party and vindication of Timothy’s influence on the Conservative campaign. Elsewhere, a recent drop in support for the Lib Dems in Nick Clegg’s constituency of Sheffield Hallam has got Labour feeling confident, and could result in a significant loss for the Lib Dems, who pledged to double their number of seats at the start of the Election campaign.

6am: More than 600 results should be in

By now, we should have a clear idea of whether Theresa May will be staying in Number 10.

7am: All but 6 results should be in

Time for the celebrations, commiserations, and post-mortems to begin in earnest.