Tory Majority as Miliband, Clegg, Farage Quit

Tory Majority as Miliband, Clegg, Farage QuitTory Majority as Miliband, Clegg, Farage Quit

British Prime Minister David Cameron won a stunning election victory, overturning poll predictions that the vote would be the closest in decades to sweep easily into office for another five years.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would stand down on Friday, saying his party must "rebuild" with a new leader. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has also said he will quit, with his party set to be reduced from 57 to eight MPs. UKIP leader Nigel Farage is also quitting after he failed to win Thanet South, losing by nearly 2,800 votes to the Conservatives, Reuters reported.

"This is the sweetest victory of all," he told enthusiastic supporters at party headquarters. "The real reason to celebrate tonight, the real reason to be proud, the real reason to be excited is we are going to get the opportunity to serve our country again."

Cameron's pitch to voters was that he had rescued Britain from economic crisis to deliver the fastest growth among major economies. He had warned that Labour's Miliband would cripple the UK by giving Scottish nationalists the keys to England's treasure.

Miliband also said in a statement that "The responsibility for the result is mine alone." A self-confessed "geek", Miliband had argued that the recovery was benefiting the rich and most people were still worse off.

However he failed to connect with working class voters or convince the public he could be trusted with the world's fifth largest economy. He phoned Cameron to concede and then resigned as party leader.

The anti-EU, populist UK Independence Party (UKIP) surged into third place in the overall vote tally, but disappointed its followers by managing to place first in only one district to win just a single seat. Its leader Nigel Farage lost his own bid for a seat. He stood down as party leader but said he might seek the leadership again later this year.

Despite the unexpectedly decisive outcome, more uncertainty looms over whether Britain will stay in the European Union - and even hold together as a country.

Cameron's victory also means Britain will face a vote which he has promised on continued membership in the EU. He says he wants to stay in the bloc, but only if he can renegotiate Britain's relationship with Brussels.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU's executive European Commission, congratulated Cameron on his victory. The Commission would examine any British proposal "in a polite, friendly and objective way," a Commission spokesman said.

Margin of Victory

Of a total of 650-seat house, the Conservatives held 331 and Labour 232. The center-left Liberal Democrats, who supported Cameron in government since 2010, were all but wiped out, reduced to eight seats from 57.

The Conservatives surpassed the 325 seat threshold of an effective majority that allows them to govern alone for the first time since 1992.

The margin of victory was a surprise even to Cameron, who said he "never quite believed we'd get to the end of this campaign in the place we are now."

That means Cameron no longer needs the Liberal Democrats, with which he has governed since 2010.

The center-left party, heir to one of the most storied liberal parties in Europe, was reduced to single digits after winning 57 seats five years ago. Its leader, Nick Clegg, held his own seat but resigned as party chief.

Among the other stunning results, Ed Balls, in line to be finance minister if Labour had won, lost his seat. He fought back tears as he expressed sorrow at Labour's defeat.

Scottish Tsunami

Scottish nationalists won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats, up from just six five years ago, all but obliterating Labour in one of its historic strongholds.

"We're seeing an electoral tsunami on a gigantic scale," said Alex Salmond, the party's former leader, now elected to represent it in parliament in London. "The SNP are going to be impossible to ignore and very difficult to stop."

The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. England accounts for 85 percent of the UK population but Scottish politicians elected to parliament in London have historically held important government posts. That will now be impossible with the SNP holding nearly all Scottish seats.

In a body blow to Labour, Douglas Alexander, the party's campaign chief and foreign policy spokesman, lost his seat to a 20-year-old Scottish nationalist student, the youngest member of the House of Commons since 1667.