May and Corbyn cast votes as British election polling gets underway

May and Corbyn cast votes as British election polling gets underway
Theresa May and her husband Philip leave after casting their votes in the General Election at a polling station in the village of Sonning, Berkshire.

Update 10am: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have greeters voters and members of the press as they arrived to cast their votes in the British general election.

Mr Corbyn smiled, waved and spoke to voters as he arrived at Pakeman Primary School in Holloway, north London, to cast his vote.

He told the press gathered outside: "Thank you very much, all of you, for coming here today. It's a day of our democracy. I've just voted. I'm very proud of our campaign. Thank you very much."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after casting his vote in the General Election at a polling station in Pakeman school in Islington, north London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after casting his vote in the General Election at a polling station in Pakeman school in Islington, north London.

Prime Minister May greeted reporters and photographers with a cheery "hello" as she arrived with husband Philip to vote at Sonning guide and scout hut on the outskirts of Maidenhead in Berkshire, England.

Polls remain inconsistent on the final outcome, but the majority report that the Tory party is likely to be returned to government; what's not clear is by how many seats.

Theresa May's refusal to show up to debate, her manifesto backtrack and the very serious security concerns emanating from the Manchester and London terror attacks cast some doubt over the assumption that the conservatives would sail back in to power with up to a 100-seat majority.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn appears to have been given a boost in spite of his own party's fractiousness.

Polls close at 10pm tonight for the 650 Westminster seats.

Voters arrive to cast their votes at a polling station at Notre Dame Primary School in Glasgow in the 2017 General Election. Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Voters arrive to cast their votes at a polling station at Notre Dame Primary School in Glasgow in the 2017 General Election. Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Earlier:

British voters are going to the polls today after one of the strangest General Election campaigns of modern times in the country.

Theresa May, who gambled by calling the snap election, issued a last-minute plea to non-Tory voters to lend her their support as she hopes to begin negotiations on a Brexit deal which will define the country for generations.

May and Corbyn cast votes as British election polling gets underway

Jeremy Corbyn, her rival in the race to Number 10, used his final rally speech to claim his campaign had "changed the face of British politics" and Labour was preparing for government.

May and Corbyn cast votes as British election polling gets underway

The election period saw two acts of horrific brutality disrupt the democratic process, with the Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge rampage changing the complexion of the campaign.

People will go to their polling stations amid heightened security as a result of the terror threat but Labour leader Mr Corbyn said voting on Thursday was a way to "honour the victims of these atrocities" by "showing democracy that will never be cowed by terror".

May and Corbyn cast votes as British election polling gets underway

Before the terrorist attacks, Mrs May's campaign had suffered a setback of her own making, with an unprecedented U-turn on a key manifesto policy.

The unexpected proposal to scrap a planned cap on social care costs changed the momentum of the campaign. Almost immediately, the polls began to tighten, while Tory candidates found anxious voters raising the issue of what the opposition parties quickly dubbed the "dementia tax" on the doorstep.

Within days the Prime Minister had performed a U-turn, announcing that they would consult on a cap in a green paper after the election - effectively rewriting a central plank of the manifesto mid-campaign.

Despite the setback, Mrs May continued trying to fight the campaign on her chosen battleground of Brexit, using a final message to voters to urge them to back her ahead of the negotiations with Brussels.

She said: " If we get Brexit right, we can build a Britain that is more prosperous and more secure. A Britain in which prosperity and opportunity is shared by all. A Britain where it's not where you come from or who your parents are that matter, but the talent you have and how hard you are prepared to work. The greatest meritocracy in the world."

In a message directly aimed at wavering voters who may lean towards other parties, she added: "I can only build that better country and get the right deal in Brussels with the support of the British people. So whoever you have voted for in the past, if that is the future you want, then vote Conservative today and we can all go forward together."

The Labour leader, who claims to have addressed more than 100,000 people at campaign events, used a speech at his final rally in his north London stronghold to claim he had reshaped British politics.

He said: "A s we prepare for government, we have already changed the debate and given people hope. Hope that it doesn't have to be like this; that inequality can be tackled; that austerity can be ended; that you can stand up to the elites and the cynics.

"This is the new centre ground. The place where most people actually are. The policies the majority actually want, not what the establishment and its media mouthpieces insist they should want. This is the new mainstream, and we have staked it out and made it our own - together."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron urged Labour supporters to vote tactically to keep out the Conservatives.

He said: "We will stand up for you on Europe, on schools and hospitals and to stop the heartless dementia tax. So stand up and make your vote count for the Liberal Democrats today."

The opinion polls continue to suggest a Tory lead, although the scale of the advantage in recent studies has ranged from a single point to a double-digit cushion for Mrs May.

Mr Corbyn's best hope may be a high turnout among young voters, especially in target seats.

The weather is unlikely to prove too much of a deterrent to voters, although rain is forecast to move north through the UK during the course of the day.

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