Sir Keir Starmer has declared “change begins now” after winning a landslide victory at the general election.

The Labour leader has secured the 326 seats required for a majority in the House of Commons – putting an end to 14 years of Conservative rule.

Outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded defeat moments before that number was reached, declaring at his election count: “The Labour Party has won this general election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory.”

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Shortly afterwards, a gleaming Sir Keir told a crowd of supporters: “We did it, you campaigned for it, you fought for it, you voted for it and now it has arrived, change begins now.”

He added the UK is once again experiencing the “sunlight of hope”.

“The sunlight of hope, pale at first but getting stronger through the day. Shining once again on a country with an opportunity after 14 years to get its future back.”

With more than 635 out of 650 seats declared, Labour will form the next government with a majority of at least 100.

The results have seen the nation firmly turn its back on the Tories.

Speaking after he held on to his seat, a solemn-looking Mr Sunak said his party had faced a “difficult night” and he took full responsibility for the results.

He said: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight… and I take responsibility for the loss.

“To the many good, hard-working Conservative candidates who lost tonight… I am sorry.”

Other key moments from a dramatic night of results include:

• Several Tory cabinet ministers lost seats to Labour, including Grant Shapps and Penny Mordaunt;
• Others fell victim to the Lib Dem plan to “smash” the Tory Blue Wall, like Alex Chalk and Gillian Keegan;
• Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held on to his seat as an independent;
• Reform UK leader Nigel Farage won a Commons seat at his eighth attempt;
• Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer defeated shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol Central;
• Labour’s shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth lost his seat to an independent;
• Senior Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg lost his seat to Labour.

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Sunak concedes defeat

The results mean a Labour prime minister in Number 10 for the first time since 2010 and the Conservatives facing a fight over the future direction of the party.

Already senior figures have been weighing in on what went wrong.

Ms Mordaunt, who is likely to have been a leadership contender if she had survived, said the Conservatives had taken a “battering because it failed to honour the trust that people had placed in it”.

Warning against a shift to the right she said the party’s renewal would not be achieved “by us talking to an ever smaller slice of ourselves, but being guided by the people of our country”.

Keir Starmer embraces Victoria  at a watch party at Tate Modern.
Pic: PA
Keir Starmer embraces Victoria at a watch party at Tate Modern. Pic: PA

“Our values must be the people’s,” she added.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, seen as a leadership contender on the right, blamed the result on the Conservative’s “not keeping our promises”.

And Mr Shapps hit out at the Tory “soap opera” which had turned off voters, as he warned his party against going “off on some tangent, condemning ourselves to years of lacklustre opposition”.

The Tories have faced a battering not only from Labour, but from the Lib Dems and Reform UK too.

Nigel Farage. Pic: Nigel Farage/Reform/X
Nigel Farage. Pic: Nigel Farage/Reform/X

The success of Reform UK saw Nigel Farage win in Clacton – his eighth attempt at entering parliament – alongside former Tory Lee Anderson, who won his seat of Ashfield, and Rupert Lowe, who took Great Yarmouth for the party.

It came after a swathe of Reform candidates took second place in Labour seats, pushing the Tories into third or even fourth place.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has hailed the results for his party as “exceptional”.

The Lib Dems won their highest number of seats since the party was founded – securing at least 70.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey at the London Art Bar in central London, where party supporters are watching the results of the 2024 General Election. Picture date: Friday July 5, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: James Manning/PA Wire
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey. Pic: PA

When polls closed on Thursday night, the exit poll by Ipsos UK for Sky News, the BBC and ITV News suggested the Lib Dems would win 61 seats – up from 11 – more than five times the number they secured at the last election in 2019.

Since then, they have secured a number of gains from the Tories – including in Wells & Mendip Hills, Dorking & Horley, Wimbledon, Yeovil, Hampshire North East and Norfolk North.

It’s also been a torrid night for the SNP, who were down to just eight MPs by Friday morning.

That is down from 48 at the last election, meaning the Lib Dems would overtake them as the third-largest party.