Election 2015: Conservatives win surprise election victory

David Cameron to return to Downing Street as party defies predictions of a hung parliament

David Cameron's Conservative party has secured a majority in the House of Commons, after comprehensively outperforming election expectations.

Labour suffered a heavy defeat, with party leader Ed Miliband announcing his resignation following a poor showing in most English seats outside of London and a near-wipeout in Scotland at the hands of the SNP. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has also announced his intention to step down after his party slumped to just eight seats.

The Tories are now by far the largest party in the House of Commons, passing the 324 threshold needed for an effective majority. The Prime Minister has said he wants to use the victory to "bring our country together". 

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In a speech in his Witney constituency before the full results were in, Cameron said he would bring forward devolution packages to Scotland and Wales “as fast as we can”.

“In short, I want my party – and I hope a government I would like to lead – to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost: the mantle of One Nation, one United Kingdom. That is how I will govern if I am fortunate enough to form a government in the coming days.”

Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, saw his party's parliamentary representation cut to just eight MPs, with ministers Ed Davey, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander all losing their seats.

The SNP has blown away the opposition in Scotland, winning 56 of 69 seats there.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander are among the high-profile Labour names to fall at the hands of the nationalists.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage announced his own resignation after failing to win the South Thanet seat, which instead went to the Tories. Douglas Carswell was the only Ukip candidate to win a seat, with Mark Reckless also losing to his old party the Conservatives.

With pre-election polls suggesting Britain was headed for a hung parliament, former Cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell this morning said his successor Jeremy Heywood could now "breathe a sigh of relief" at a "relatively straightforward" outcome.

However, he warned that Mr Cameron would still face difficulties in governing with a slender majority.

"This takes me back to my days working as press secretary for Sir John Major," he told the Today programme.

"Small Conservative majorities can be very difficult things to managed particularly over Europe. And of course Europe will dominate the start of this parliament because presumably we'll be having an in-out referendum on the EU."

You can continue to follow all the fallout from the general election on our liveblog, provided by CSW's sister site PoliticsHome

Read the most recent articles written by Josh May & Matt Foster - Spending Review: Treasury announces £3.8bn health service funding boost

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