Sir Keir Starmer has promised to “return to politics as public service” in his first appearance since the exit poll predicted a Labour landslide in the general election.

Speaking after winning his own seat in north London, the Labour leader said people around the country had “spoken and they’re ready for change, to end the politics of performance”.

He added: “The change begins right here. Because this is your democracy, your community and your future. You have voted. It is now time for us to deliver.”

The exit poll projects Labour will win 410 seats overnight – with an overall majority of 170 in the Commons.

That compares to a prediction of just 131 seats for Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives – which would be the lowest seat tally in the party’s history.

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Labour have made early gains as the general election results start to come in – with a former minister, Sir Robert Buckland, becoming the first Tory casualty of the night.

But bigger beasts have now fallen, with both Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk losing their seats.

However, Labour lost Islington North to its former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who stood as an independent, as well as Leicester South, where another independent ousted shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth.

Labour’s Heidi Alexander makes her acceptance speech as Sir Robert Buckland (L) looks on

In another blow to the party, former Tory Lee Anderson became Reform UK’s first elected MP after winning in Ashfield, pushing the Tories into fourth place – and coming after a swathe of his party’s candidates took second place in Labour seats.

Posting on X, Reform leader Nigel Farage said the results were “almost unbelievable”, adding: “And what does it mean? It means we’re going to win seats. Many, many seats, I think right now, across the country.”

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The Liberal Democrats have gained a seat in Harrogate and Knaresborough, ousting the Tory incumbent and former minister Andrew Jones after 14 years, and taken Eastleigh too.

They have also declared victory in at least 12 seats where results have yet to be announced – all of which were Conservative ahead of the election – including the Chichester constituency of Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, which could see the first cabinet minister of the night lose their seat.

Commenting on the list, which also includes Torbay and Wimbledon, a party source said: “From the West Country to Greater Manchester, the map is being painted gold as Liberal Democrats sweep to victory in the Conservative Party’s former heartlands.”

The chairman of the Brexiteer European Research Group (ERG), Mark Francois, was the first Conservative of the night to hold his seat – though he lost over 35% of the vote share.

But George Galloway, who won the seat of Rochdale in a by-election earlier this year, has been voted out, with locals choosing the Labour candidate – and former political journalist – Paul Waugh instead.

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What does the exit poll tell us?

In the first result of the night, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson held Houghton and Sunderland South and said: “Tonight the British people have spoken and if the exit poll this evening is again a guide to results across our country – as it so often is – then after 14 years the British people have chosen change.

“They have chosen Labour and they have chosen the leadership of Keir Starmer. Today our country with its proud history has chosen a brighter future.”

Ms Reeves told Sky News she was “under no illusions about the scale of the challenge” her party faces if it takes power, adding: “We can’t promise to turn everything around straight away, but we will get to work and starting to rebuild our economy, bringing growth back to our economy and starting to turn around public services that have been so neglected by this Conservative government.”

Also speaking to Sky News, former Tory cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom said it was a “devastating night” for her party, but claimed the reason for the scale of the projected losses was because they had “not been properly Conservative enough” to win over voters.

“I don’t actually think in the end we’ll see huge enthusiasm for Labour,” she said. “But I think a lot of people are very angry with the Conservatives.

“I think Reform have done very well out of it because they’ve been a protest… and we’re going to have to rethink.”

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Lammy and Rayner react to exit poll

The Liberal Democrats are also looking likely to have a strong night, going from 11 seats to 61 in the exit poll, while the SNP could fall to as few as 10 seats – swapping with the Lib Dems as the third largest party.

Reform’s first real electoral test could see them win as many as 13 seats, according to the poll – with Mr Farage almost certain to take Clacton.

And the Green Party could gain an extra seat, taking their total to two.

The results have started coming in after a six-week campaign, launched by Mr Sunak in the pouring rain in Downing Street, which has seen Labour dominate in the polls throughout.

He has faced a number of mishaps throughout the campaign, from his decision to leave D-Day early to his party becoming embroiled in a betting scandal.

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‘I want to see Shapps go down’ – Lynch

But the prime minister insisted he would “fight” to prevent a Labour “supermajority”.

Both main parties are playing down the early projections ahead of the final results being announced.

But Labour’s shadow environment secretary Steve Reed told Sky News the “big, solid wins” for Labour in the first results “were starting to authenticate the direction of travel that we saw in that exit poll”.