Labour tipped for historic win as UK voters go to the polls   

London — Britain voted Thursday in a general election widely expected to hand the opposition Labour party a landslide win and end nearly a decade-and-a-half of Conservative rule. 

The first national ballot since Boris Johnson won the Tories a decisive victory in 2019 follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s surprise call to hold it six months earlier than required. 

His gamble looks set to backfire spectacularly, with polls throughout the six-week campaign — and for the last two years — pointing to a heavy defeat for his right-wing party. 

That would almost certainly put Labour leader Keir Starmer, 61, in Downing Street, as leader of the largest party in parliament. 

Centre-left Labour is projected to win its first general election since 2005 by historic proportions, with a flurry of election-eve polls all forecasting its biggest-ever victory. 

But Starmer was taking nothing for granted as he urged voters not to stay at home. “Britain’s future is on the ballot,” he said. “But change will only happen if you vote for it.” 

Voting began at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) in more than 40,000 polling stations across the country, from church halls, community centers and schools to more unusual venues such as pubs and even a ship. 

Sunak was among the early birds, casting his ballot at his Richmond and Northallerton constituency in Yorkshire, northern England. Starmer voted around two hours later in his north London seat. 

“I just moved back from Australia and I’ve got the feeling that everything has turned wrong in this country and a lot of people are not satisfied,” said Ianthe Jacob, a 32-year-old writer, after voting in Hackney, east London. 

In Saint Albans, north of London, 22-year-old student Judith told AFP: “I don’t really trust any of them but will vote. A lot of my friends feel the same.” 

Voting closes at 10:00 pm (2100 GMT). Broadcasters then announce exit polls, which typically provide an accurate picture of how the main parties have performed. 

Results from the UK’s 650 constituencies trickle in overnight, with the winning party expected to hit 326 seats — the threshold for a parliamentary majority — as dawn breaks Friday.  

Polls suggest voters will punish the Tories after 14 years of often chaotic rule and could oust a string of government ministers. 

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