Britain voted today in the closest general election for decades with opinion polls showing the opposition Conservatives winning most seats but not enough to form a government. Voting ends at 2100 GMT with the first results expected two hours later. The three rival leaders of the main parties made last minute pleas to the 45 million electorate before more than 40,000 polling stations opened at 0600 GMT for the cliffhanger event.
After a frantic final 48 hours of campaigning to win over a substantial number of undecided voters, Brown, Cameron and Clegg issued final appeals late Wednesday for activists to help get the vote out.
Cameron rounded off a gruelling tour on his battlebus that carried him from Scotland to his final rally in Bristol, southwest England, by telling a cheering crowd they had a chance to sweep away Labour after 13 years in power.
“Vote to give this country the hope, the optimism and the change we need. Together we can build a better, stronger country,” he said.
Brown ended his campaigning in his native Scotland and issued a last-ditch plea to wavering voters to back Labour as the best party to safeguard the country’s fragile recovery from a deep recession.
“At this moment of risk to our economy, at this moment of decision for our country, I ask you to come home to Labour,” he urged a crowd in Dumfries.
Clegg, whose surprisingly strong showing has made the election so close, urged voters to back him and seize a “once in a generation opportunity to do things differently”.
“If you give us a chance, if you trust us with your vote, I promise I will do everything I can to make things better for good, to deliver the fairer Britain you want,” he said.