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Dhaka Tribune

With nobody set for majority, Britain braces for hung parliament

Update : 03 May 2015, 06:46 PM

Britain is heading towards a hung parliament after Thursday’s national election, fuelling uncertainty about the country’s future in the European Union, its economic policy, and Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.

Four days before Britain’s closest election in decades, the prospect of no single party winning an overall majority and which alliances could be struck with smaller parties afterwards is dominating debate.

Opinion polls show Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, neck and neck, with neither on track to win control of the House of Commons on their own.

“No one is going to win. I know David Cameron and Ed Miliband go around robotically that they’re going to win. They’re not, and they know it,” said Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who in 2010 became junior partner in a coalition with the Conservatives. He was speaking on BBC television.

If Cameron is re-elected, he has promised to hold an in-out EU membership referendum in 2017, while the rise of Scottish nationalists - who lost an independence referendum last year - is generating continued uncertainty about Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.

The uncertain outcome of Thursday’s election reflects the fact that Scottish nationalists threaten to overrun Labour in an area it once considered a stronghold, and the rise of the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) which risks splitting the Conservative vote in its English heartlands.

Labour and the Conservatives are likely to win less than 300 seats each, short of a majority in the 650-seat parliament. The Scottish National Party (SNP) could take over 50, the Liberal Democrats between 20 and 30, and UKIP less than 10.

The two main parties are refusing to publicly countenance a second-successive hung parliament, something that would be taken as evidence that their decades-old grip on power has been permanently weakened. 

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