The morning after – election results, university seats and what’s next

Theresa May has lost her majority and possibly her authority. We have a hung parliament.

Nonetheless, the Conservatives still look best placed to be able to govern with the support of the ten MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party. The party is briefing the press this morning that the Prime Minister won’t be resigning and will attempt to form a government over the coming days, while Labour is briefing that it is prepared to form a minority government if needed.

Events will move quickly, with uncertainty over the future of the Prime Minister herself, potential cabinet minister on manoeuvres, and how secure an arrangement between the Tories and DUP would be.

So-called ‘purdah’ will continue until a government can command a majority in the House of Commons. If a deal is not reached over the weekend, this could jeopardise forthcoming announcements like the TEF2 results, LEO data and a new CEO for the Office for Students.

The HE vote

By common consent, it was the votes of young people, and particularly students, that deposed Conservatives last night in several university towns. The exit poll showed 63% of the 18-34 demographic voting Labour, and early indications are that turnout amongst this group was much higher than in past elections. Labour’s pledge to abolish tuition fees is being pointed to this morning by pundits as a key reason for Labour’s success among this demographic.

There were reports during the day yesterday of queues on campuses, with the Guardian reporting that polling stations with some of the longest queues were based at universities – the University of East Anglia in Norwich South had queues extending around the corner, and there were reports of queues at the University of Oxford and the University of Kent in Canterbury which saw one of the big upsets of the night.

We’ll have to wait for the full analysis of the results in the coming days to get a true picture of what happened.

The HE results

Some of the interesting results with a key HE influence include:

Matt Rodda, former DfE civil servant and well known HE lobbyist, unexpectedly took the student-heavy Reading East for Labour.

Student-heavy seats including Cardiff Central, Bristol West, Manchester Central, Newcastle-upon-Tyne East, Norwich South, and Nottingham South saw Labour pile up huge majorities.

Leeds North West, the only large student seat to be held by a Liberal Democrat, was won by Labour.

Bath was a surprise gain for the Liberal Democrats from Conservative Ben Howlett, with a 17% swing in a three-way battle. The Lib Dems were also successful in Oxford West and Abingdon, unseating Tory Nicola Blackwood.

Cambridge was held by Labour, who increased their majority by 13,000, to the disappointment of Liberal Democrat challenger Julian Huppert.

Aberdeen North was an SNP hold (though there was a Conservative gain in the less student-focused Aberdeen South).

Sheffield Central, Paul Blomfield’s seat and that with a larger number of students than any other, was a comfortable Labour hold. Nick Clegg lost his seat next door in Sheffield Hallam to Labour.

In Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson saw his majority cut in half. His brother, erstwhile universities minister Jo Johnson, romped home in Orpington with an increased majority.

Canterbury was an unexpected Labour gain, returning a Labour MP for the first time in more than 100 years thanks to a significant student vote, and unseating the hard-right Tory MP Julian Brazier.

Former NUS President Wes Streeting not only held Ilford North but vastly increased his majority.

Former Business Secretary Vince Cable regained his seat in Twickenham for the Liberal Democrats. His colleague Simon Hughes, who had been working for the Open University since losing his seat in the 2015 election, failed to regain Bermondsey & Old Southwark.  

Home Secretary Amber Rudd sought two recounts in Hastings and Rye before narrowly holding the seat for the Conservatives with around 300 votes.

Education Secretary Justine Greening saw her majority slashed in Putney, just clinging on by roughly 1,500 votes.

Education Select Committee chair Neil Carmichael lost his seat of Stroud to Labour.

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