Labour on course for landslide as Britain heads to the polls


Britons are voting in a parliamentary election that is expected to bring Keir Starmer's Labour Party to power, sweeping away Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservatives after 14 often turbulent years.

Opinion polls put Starmer's centre-left party on course for a landslide victory but also suggest many voters simply want change after a period of infighting and turmoil under the Conservatives that led to five prime ministers in eight years.

This means Starmer, a 61-year-old former human rights lawyer, could take office with one of the biggest to-do lists in British history but without a groundswell of support or the financial resources to tackle it.

"Today, Britain can begin a new chapter," Starmer told voters in a statement on Thursday. "We cannot afford five more years under the Conservatives. But change will only happen if you vote Labour."

The country's 40,000 polling stations opened at 0600 GMT.

Sunak, 44, was among those to vote early. He was pictured leaving a polling station in his Richmond constituency in northern England, holding hands with his wife Akshata Murty.

Having called the election months earlier than expected, Sunak has in recent weeks abandoned his call for a fifth consecutive Conservative victory, switching instead to warning of the dangers of an unchallenged Labour Party in parliament.

Sunak issued a fresh rallying cry to voters for election day, saying a Labour government would hike taxes, hamper economic recovery and leave Britain more vulnerable at a time of geopolitical tension, charges Labour deny.

"They will do lasting damage to our country and our economy - just like they did the last time they were in power," Sunak said on Thursday. "Don't let that happen."

Polls were due to close at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) when an exit poll will give the first sign of the outcome. Detailed official results are expected in the early hours of Friday.

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