The Union Flag flies near the Houses of Parliament the day before a general election in central London, Britain June 7, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/CLODAGH KILCOYNE)
Millions of voters across the United Kingdom are to make their voices heard on Thursday as Conservative leader Theresa May and Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn go head-to-head in a critical pre-Brexit general election.
Polling stations opened their doors to the public at 7am BST and are due to close at 10pm BST. Counting will start immediately and the first constituencies are expected to declare results shortly before 11pm BST in an election that could have wide-reaching consequences for the UK.
As the UK prepares to open negotiations with the European Union in the coming weeks ahead of its Brexit departure, the general election could mark a turning point in the UK's political landscape for years to come.
Prime Minister May shocked the UK
in April when she called for snap elections - three years early - in order to commence Brexit negotiations with a strong, renewed mandate from the British electorate.
According to recently approved fixed-term election legislation, the next general election was due to take place in May 2020.
A strong result and significant majority for the Conservative Party will be interpreted as a vote of confidence in May's leadership as the country enters into crucial negotiations that will determine its future relations with the European Union. Failure to win an outright majority or a loss for the Conservative Party could spell uncertainty for both the UK and Brussels.
During a campaign that has twice been disrupted following terror attacks in Manchester and London, latest polls show that the Conservative Party's initially considerable lead over the Labor Party, and leader Jeremy Corbyn, is now only a slender majority.
According to a recent poll by The Jewish Chronicle
, only 13% of British Jews
intend to vote for Labor in the election. This comes after multiple antisemitism controversies under Corbyn's leadership of the party.
In 2015, UK pre-election polls were notably unreliable. Predictions that the result would be very close, potentially resulting in a coalition government, proved to be inaccurate.
The Conservative Party currently have 330 seats in the House of Commons, Labor have 229 and the SNP have 54. The 2015 elections saw the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote, falling from 59 seats to their current nine seats. Welsh party Plaid Cymru have three and the Green Party have one MP.