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A man walks past a sign outside a polling station on general election day in London, Britain, December 12, 2019 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Voters Head to Polls Across the UK for General Elections

The United Kingdom votes on Thursday in what both Conservative and Labour politicians have called the most important general election in a generation.

Polling stations across the country opened at 07:00 GMT and will close at 22:00 GMT.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have travelled the country in the run-up to the vote, with the Conservatives in the lead and Labour hoping to attract enough support to pursue a second referendum on EU membership. 

The House of Commons rejected three separate bills to hold a snap election, primarily due to concerns that a "No Deal Brexit" had not been taken off the table. Members of parliament eventually approved the general election motion at the fourth attempt in a vote held on 29 October, after the European Union delayed the UK’s deadline to finalise Brexit by another three months.

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02:24 GMT 13.12.2019

Also, Labour gained Putney from Conservatives and Tories gained Leigh from Labour

01:39 GMT 13.12.2019
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the United Kingdom the greatest democracy in the world after the first exit poll showed that his Conservative Party would get an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons.

“Thank you to everyone across our great country who voted, who volunteered, who stood as candidates. We live in the greatest democracy in the world,” Johnson wrote on his Twitter page on late Thursday.

22:11 GMT 12.12.2019

"It’s only the very beginning of the night, and it’s too early to call the result," the spokesperson said in a statement.

22:04 GMT 12.12.2019

According to the exit poll, Labour set to win 191 seats, Liberal Democrats 13 and SNP 55 seats.

17:45 GMT 12.12.2019

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar commented on the general election in the UK during an EU leaders' summit in Brussels.

"The best thing for Ireland, for the UK and for Europe would be an end to the uncertainty, so whether that’s prime minister Johnson winning with a large majority, or remain parties winning a majority, we’ll work with whatever the outcome is. What has been very hard to work with was a hung parliament that wasn’t able to come to a majority decision on anything. I just hope we’re not in that position tomorrow," Varadkar said as quoted by the Guardian.

He added that the Brexit process won't end if the UK leaves the EU on 31 January.

"Brexit doesn’t just end with the UK leaving the European Union. We move on to the next phase and that’s going to be really important. The withdrawal agreement doesn’t solve the issue of trade, and the trading relationship between Britain and Ireland is essential for our agrifood sector, for our exporters and our small businesses. So it’s going to be really crucial for Ireland that we get a good deal on trade with the UK," he said as cited by the paper. 

16:13 GMT 12.12.2019

Nicholas Cobb, the chairman of the Westminster Forum, a non-profit think tank, said on Thursday that the issues experienced with the National Health Service (NHS), which has long been struggling with funding cuts and increased pressure on hospitals, were exaggerated.

"The NHS is a lifeline for people. There will always be horror stories, there will always be issues, but it provides very good health access. Yes, it has its problems, but at one point it employed more people than the Red Army. There will always be individual incidents, but broadly it is a very good system that works in the interest of the public. It is oversubscribed, it does have issues, but it does a very good job for our people," Cobb said.

As for claims that Russia might be behind the leak of documents allegedly proving that the NHS was put up for sale in trade talks with the United States, Cobb said that Russia had become an easy target to be blamed for every mishap.

"I can say that it is easy for people to basically blame the third party for all of their ills and all of their problems and not really look at their own house. The reality, however, is probably just a fact that Russia was an easy target and it is easy to blame your ills on a third party and it has become lazy politics," the think tank chairman added.

In early December, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled a 451-page dossier, which was believed to have been posted on social media website Reddit in October by a Russian campaign. The leaked papers allegedly included plans to sell NHS under a trade deal with the US.

The NHS is said to be experiencing a significant staffing crisis. The gap between staff needed and the number available in the UK health service could reach almost 250,000 by 2030. Brexit is also due to have a significant impact on staffing numbers, as nurses from European Union countries are quitting their duties in the NHS.

The Westminster Forum is a non-profit think tank promoting cultural, commercial and political relations between Russia and the United Kingdom.

16:06 GMT 12.12.2019

US Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to urge the UK public to vote.



15:59 GMT 12.12.2019

The co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, has cast his vote at a polling station in Streatham in southern London.


14:59 GMT 12.12.2019

A 48-year old man has been arrested by the Lanarkshire Police Division after a suspicious device was discovered on the ground floor of an apartment building that was due to be used as a polling station during Thursday’s general election, police reported.

"Police in Motherwell have arrested a 48-year-old man in connection with a suspicious device found on the ground floor of Glen Tower flats, Motherwell around 1am on Thursday, 12 December, 2019," chief inspector Mark Leonard said in a post on the Lanarkshire Police Division’s Facebook page.

Police carried out a controlled explosion as a precaution on the device. The polling station due to be in the Glen Tower apartment building has remained closed throughout Thursday. An alert posted on the North Lanarkshire Council’s website instructed voters to use another polling station located in a nearby elementary school.

A police investigation is underway.

14:17 GMT 12.12.2019
A member of Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's security detail argues with a person dressed as Sesame Street character Elmo as Corbyn returns from a polling station after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019 - Sputnik International
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Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Laura Alvarez pose outside a polling station during the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019 - Sputnik International
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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson kisses his dog Dilyn as he arrives at a polling station at the Methodist Central Hall to vote in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019 - Sputnik International
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