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David Cameron on track to return to power as UK Prime Minister

By Reuters | May 8th 2015 at 08:11:12 GMT +0300

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives are on track to govern Britain for another five years even though they are likely to fall just short of an outright majority at Thursday's election, an exit poll showed.

The poll gave the Conservatives 316 of 650 seats in the lower house of parliament and the main opposition Labour Party 239. If accurate, that would be one of centre-left Labour's worst ever results.

Conservative government minister Michael Gove said that if the exit poll proved correct "the Conservatives have clearly won this election".

Such a result means Britain is likely to face a historic in-out European Union membership referendum in the next two years and that billions of pounds will be cut from government spending to eliminate the budget deficit in the world's fifth largest economy.

Sterling jumped to a one-week high after the poll. The pound jumped nearly 2 U.S. cents to $1.5430 in early Australasian trade, hitting its strongest since April 30.

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UK election exit polls have a good track record but the large number of parties competing this time has raised the potential for error. It will be well into Friday before final results are announced.

The poll, conducted for Britain's national broadcasters, suggests Cameron will have multiple options to form a government, perhaps with the support of either the Liberal Democrats, his current coalition partners, or Northern Irish unionists or both. He could also try and go it alone.

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