Prime Minister David Cameron enjoyed a surprise triumph in the British election Friday as his Conservative Party won a narrow outright victory over a faltering opposition.
The result lifted a fog of uncertainty but leaves Britain facing two constitutional crises: a potentially damaging referendum on whether to quit the European Union, and renewed pressure from Scottish nationalists who want to leave the 300-year-old United Kingdom.
The opposition Labour Party took a beating, with its main campaign strategist among those voted out.
The energized Scottish National Party pulled off a landslide, taking 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland and setting a string of electoral records.
With 642 out of 650 results counted at 11.30 a.m. (6.30 a.m. ET), the Conservatives had 326 House of Commons seats — the exact number it needs to govern, according to ITV News. It predicted the party would reach a tally of 331 seats.
The result was far better for Cameron than opinion pollsters, or even his own party, had foreseen. He was beaming early Friday as he was re-elected in his constituency in England’s rural Oxfordshire.
“This is clearly a very strong night for the Conservative Party,” he said.
“I want my party, and I hope a government that I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost — the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom,” Cameron said, vowing to counter the rise of nationalism with more powers for Scotland and Wales.