Voting in the UK general election is complete with millions turning out to cast their ballot. A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected after votes closed at 1am Friday UAE time (10pm Thursday BST). Stay with us through the night as we bring you up-to-the-minute news and results.

Read Gulf News Foreign Correspondent Mick O'Reilly's take on the election

Current official position 

326 needed for majority

Conservatives: 317 (-12)
Labour: 261 (+29)
Scottish National Party: 35 (-21)
Liberal Democrats: 12 (+4)
Democratic Unionist Party: 10 (+2)
Sinn Fein: 7 (+3)
Plaid Cymru: 4 (+1)
Green Party: 1 (0)
Social Democratic and Labour Party: 0 (-3)
Ulster Unionist Party: 0 (-2)
UK Independence Party: (0) (-1)
Independents 1: (0)
Overall Conservative majority: None (12)

Turnout: 68.7 percent (66.1 percent)


Source: AFP (at 2.09pm in Dubai)

LONDON: In the big book of political blunders, Theresa May's decision to hold a snap election to solidify her Brexit mandate will rank among the most memorable — and the most unnecessary.

The British prime minister was cruising along two months ago with a solid majority in Parliament and several years to run on her party's mandate. There was no need for her to put her position on the line, and she had said earlier that an election was not needed.

But her party's huge lead in the opinion polls — 20 percent in most cases —  made the prospect too tempting to pass up. At the time, it seemed to make sense. Her main opponent — Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, known for his left-wing views — was stumbling from mishap to mishap, unable even to muster solid support from his party's own lawmakers.

May seemed virtually certain to add to her party's strength, win a mandate in her own name (not just as a stand-in for her disgraced predecessor, David Cameron) and gain five years to negotiate a deal on exiting the European Union without facing a pesky national vote in the middle.

So she flung the dice — and marched off a political cliff. After Thursday's vote, May's Conservative Party still has the largest number of lawmakers, but lacks a parliamentary majority.

It may well be able to form a minority government in the coming days and weeks, but her ability to cling to the keys of Number 10 Downing Street is very much in doubt — and her stated goal of unifying the country behind her ahead of the upcoming Brexit negotiations with EU leaders is utterly out of reach.

The result has caused a fresh run on the British pound sterling, and made EU leaders still more uncertain about Britain's Brexit priorities.

It is too early to say with any certainty what the change from a majority to minority government will mean to Brexit. Some experts are calling the Conservatives' unexpected loss of seats a rejection of the "hard Brexit" May has advocated, which would take Britain out of the single market and the customs union.

Voters may have been unimpressed with her refrain that "no deal is better than a bad deal" because it raised the prospect of Britain crashing out of the EU bloc without a trade and immigration system to replace the existing, well-integrated procedures that have evolved over decades of European integration.

'Softer Brexit'

Corbyn's newly energized Labour Party officially backs Brexit — since voters endorsed it in a referendum last year — but many important figures in the party advocate a much "softer" Brexit, and their views now may now carry sway.

Corbyn's rise is one of the biggest surprises. He was seen by many commentators as too left-wing, too much of a pacifist, and tarnished by prior associations with the radical group Hamas and the IRA.

The bearded, often rumpled Corbyn seemed to suffer from a chronic charisma deficit — until the campaign began. Then, he ran a disciplined, coherent campaign despite a few miscues, and deftly capitalized on May's mistakes.

He gained ground when she seemed to suggest what was quickly called a "dementia tax" that could cause the elderly to have to sell their homes to pay for nursing care, and in the final days repeatedly hammered May for cutting 20,000 police officers during her tenure as interior minister — an assertion that carried weight as major terrorist attacks hit Manchester and London.

On Friday, Theresa May was fighting to hold on to her job as British voters dealt her a punishing blow, and weakening her party's grip on power.



May to seek Queen’s permission to form a government

British Prime Minister Theresa May will ask Queen Elizabeth for permission to form a government at 1130 GMT (3.30pm in Dubai) on Friday, a spokesman from her office said, after she failed to win an outright majority at a national election.


'Crushing blow for Theresa May, Brexit talks blurred'

British voters dealt Prime Minister Theresa May a devastating blow in a snap election she had called to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks, wiping out her parliamentary majority and throwing the country into political turmoil.

A wounded May signaled she would fight on. Her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn, once written off by his opponents as a no-hoper, said she should step down.

With 647 of 650 seats declared, the Conservatives had won 316 seats. Though the biggest single winner, they failed to reach the 326-mark they would need to command a parliamentary majority. Labour had won 261 seats.


'Hanging by a thread'

Headlines in Britain pointed Friday to looming political turbulence — especially on the question surrounding Brexit?" — and an uncertain future for Prime Minister Theresa May.


Sterling sags

Sterling sagged in Asia on Friday as British elections left no single party with a clear claim to power, sideswiping investors who had already weathered major risk events in the United States and Europe.


'Naughty' May faces online mockery

She recently said the naughtiest thing she had done was to run through wheat fields, but calling an election could soon top Prime Minister Theresa May's naughtiness list, according to social media users.

"Running through fields of wheat is now officially the second worst thing Theresa May ever did," Sam Coates, deputy political editor for The Times newspaper tweeted on Friday.

Daily Mirror journalist Kevin Maguire wrote: "Running through a farmer's wheat field won't after this election be the naughtiest thing Theresa May's done". Twitter user James Gill joined in, commenting: "Theresa May currently hiding in a field of wheat".


Pranksters get their moment of fame

Britain's election night has provided fleeting moments of fame for an array of pranksters, jokers and fringe candidates.

A member of the Monster Raving Loony Party gestures as votes are counted in Islington, London, Friday, June 9, 2017.

In each constituency, all the candidates get to line up on stage while the results are announced - often on live television.

Prime Minister Theresa May easily won her Maidenhead constituency, but could be about to lose her job if the Conservatives fail to win a majority.

She looked grim as her local victory was announced, even while sharing a stage with a man dressed as the Muppet character Elmo (he got three votes), Howling "Laud" Hope of the Monster Raving Loony Party (119 votes) and Lord Buckethead, a towering figure in black with a pail on his head (a resounding 249 votes).


UK heading for hung parliament

All the predictions are suggesting a hung parliament is the most likely outcome, as predicted by the initial exit poll back at 1am.

That suggested the Conservatives would win 314 seats, but that has now been upgraded to 318.

However you look at it, this is a terrible result for Theresa May and a very positve result for Jeremy Corbyn and Labout, predicted to win 267 seats.



Farage fears second Brexit vote

Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says the anti-EU party has a big role to play in politics if the Conservatives fail to get a strong majority ahead of Brexit talks.

Farage was instrumental in getting Britain to hold a referendum on European Union membership. He stepped down as UKIP leader after last year's victory for the "leave" side.

UKIP's vote has collapsed in the election, with former supporters going to both Labour and the Conservatives. The party looks unlikely to win any seats in the House of Commons.

Farage told ITV he fears the Labour Party could form a coalition government and hold a second referendum on EU membership. He says in that case "the role of UKIP maybe just beginning."



Shaken May calls for period of 'stability'

Prime Minister Theresa May might have won her seat, but she cut a sorry figure at the podium when addressing the audience.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks after the declaration at her constituency was made for in the general election in Maidenhead, England, Friday, June 9, 2017.

Speaking after her re-election in the constituency of Maidenhead to the west of London, May appeared shaken and said: “At this time, more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability,” she said. “It is incumbent on Conservatives to provide stability.”

She stumbled on her words and was heavily made up, perhaps trying to hide the disappointment of a disastrous election day.

Opponent Jeremy Corbyn had demanded her resignation, and there were some who thought she might quit there and then. 



Corbyn calls for May to resign

After emphatically winning his seat, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for Theresa May to stand aside in the wake of Conservative losses.

Jeremy Corbyn speaks after winning his Islington seat.

May's party is still forecast to get the most votes, but not a majority and certainly not the type of gains the prime minister expected when she called the snap election.

Corbyn says the result means "politics has changed" and people have rejected Conservative austerity.

Speaking after being re-elected in his London seat, Corbyn said May should "go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country."



BBC forecast gives Conservatives 322 seats

The BBC is now forecasting 322 seats for the Conservatives, better than the exit poll prediction of 314 but still not a majority.

They would need help from one of the other parties to form a government, and it would still make Theresa May's position difficult.

May has sacrificed a majority for what looks like a minority, and only she can take the blame for that.



Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg loses seat

Nick Clegg, the man who took the Liberal Democrats into coalition with the Conservatives, has lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam.

Nick Clegg.

His party took huge losses off the back of the coalition and now his political career is effectively over with his seat lost. He looks suitably dejected.

Clegg urged all politicians to try and heal a "deeply divided and polarized nation."

An exit poll predicts the Liberal Democrats will pick up a handful of seats to add to the nine they held before the election. In better news for the Liberal Democrats, former Business Secretary Vince Cable regained the seat he lost in 2015.

The Conservatives are projected to be the biggest party but could lose their overall majority.



Knives out for May?

UK bookmakers have slashed the betting odds for Boris Johnson, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, becoming the next leader of the Conservative party from 66-1 to 5-1 as speculation mounted over May’s leadership and decision to call the snap general election.

Boris Johnson.

A lack of a majority for the Conservatives could make May’s position untenable.



Conservatives accepting exit poll reality?

The word from inside the Conservative camp is that they are accepting the reality of the exit poll.

Theresa May.

When the BBC poll was first published as voting finished at 1am UAE time, the Conservatives were bullish that it was wrong. But as the real results have started flowing, the exit poll had held firm.

The BBC officlal forecast is now predicting 322 seats for the Conservatives, still not enough for a majority.



Corbyn claims he has 'changed politics'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has claimed his campaign 'changed politics' following the exit poll which predicted significant gains for his party.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party.

Corbyn was 20 percentage points behind when Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election, but now her majority is under threat.

Despite members of his own party speaking out against the leader of the opposition, Corbyn's campaign was a surprise and now he appears to be reaping the benfit.



First seat changes hands

More than three hours after polls closed in Britain's election, the first seat has changed hands, with Labour winning a constituency from the Scottish National Party.

Labour, the main opposition party, took Rutherglen and Hamilton West from the pro-independence SNP.

Of the other 20-plus seats that have declared, all stayed with the parties that held them before the election.



Labour holds Darlington

Darlington is a significant win for Labour, because it was a seat the Conservatives were targeting on the search for a big majority. It is becoming apparent a big majority is not going to happen.

However, analysts are saying the exit poll has underestimated the Tory performance in the north, but it remains to be seen if that can be extrapolated across the UK. At this point, a smaller Conservative majority looks likely - still a bad result for May given it will leave her in a weaker position.



Newcastle wins the race

The northern English city of Newcastle has claimed victory in the race to be the first to declare a result in Britain's general election.

An electoral officer announced that Labour had won the seat of Newcastle Central just before 11pm Thursday (2am Friday UAE), less than an hour after polls closed. That was six minutes ahead of the rival northern England seat of Houghton and Sunderland South, which declared first in 2015. That seat also went to Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, speaks at an election campaign event in Newcastle, June 5, 2017.

The two cities take the contest to declare first seriously, practicing rapid ballot-counting and rushing ballot boxes from polling stations to the count centre.

Sunderland uses schoolchildren to run with the boxes, while Newcastle relies on sports students.

Ballots are being counted in an early election called by Prime Minister Theresa May, with an exit poll projecting she may lose her majority in Parliament.



First seat for Conservatives

Conservatives win Swindon North, although result were a swing to Labour.



Labour win Newcastle East

As expected, Labour win Newcastle East, although the Conservatives closed the gap on the previous vote.



May’s election gamble backfires

Here's our first piece of analysis from Mick O’Reilly Gulf News' Foreign Correspondent based in Madrid.

Madrid: British Prime Minister Theresa May took the biggest gamble of her political career in calling a snap general election.

Mick O’Reilly

But early results and exit polls show the Conservative leader was the loser – failing to win the increased majority she so desperately wanted to negotiate a Brexit deal with the other 27 members of the European Union.

On dissolution May’s Conservatives held an overall majority of 330 seats of the 650 in the House of Commons.

Exit polls and seat-projections immediately after Thursday’s general election showed her party on course to take just 314 seats – still the largest party in Westminster but 12 seats short of a majority.

If the results pan out as expected, May’s position as leader of the party is vulnerable, her Brexit negotiating hand is considerable weakened and she may have to rely on support from any Members of Parliament elected by the Democratic Unionist Party and the Official Unionist Party, both based in Northern Ireland.

Labour, under Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, looked likely to pick up 266 seats, up from the 229 the party held on dissolution.

But one of the biggest losers of the night appeared to be the Scottish National Party. Heading in to Thursday’s vote, the party held 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland. Exit polls suggested the SNP would hold just 40 or so. But those 40 votes, combined with Labour – and if the Liberal Democrats win the 14 projects, a broad Corbyn-led centre-left grand coalition would hold 320 seats – tantalisingly close to cobble enough to govern. 



Story so far

Just to sum up what's happened so far. A BBC exit poll has caused fireworks by suggesting there will be no majority for the Conservatives, whose leader, Theresa May, called the snap election in the first place.

However, actual results are in their early stages, with two seats declared so far, in Newcastle Centre and Sunderland South. Both have gone to Labour.



Difficult to form government

One of Britain's leading political figures says the exit poll projections following Britain's election, if accurate, would make it very difficult for a new government to be formed.

Former Treasury chief George Osborne, who now edits the Evening Standard newspaper, told ITV the exit poll would be "completely catastrophic" for the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Theresa May if it turns out to be accurate.

George Osbourne (right) with William Hague.

May called a snap election in hope of increasing the Conservatives' majority in Parliament and strengthening Britain's hand in EU exit talks.

Osborne said Thursday it would be hard for any party to put together a governing coalition if the poll is accurate.

"It's difficult to see if these numbers were right how they would put together the coalition to remain in office, but equally it's quite difficult to see how Labour would put together a coalition," he said.

Osborne, a prominent Conservative stalwart, did not seek re-election to Parliament, choosing instead to focus on journalism.

One of Britain's leading political figures says the exit poll projections following Britain's election, if accurate, would make it very difficult for a new government to be formed.

Former Treasury chief George Osborne, who now edits the Evening Standard newspaper, told ITV the exit poll would be "completely catastrophic" for the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Theresa May if it turns out to be accurate.

May called a snap election in hope of increasing the Conservatives' majority in Parliament and strengthening Britain's hand in EU exit talks.

Osborne said Thursday it would be hard for any party to put together a governing coalition if the poll is accurate.

"It's difficult to see if these numbers were right how they would put together the coalition to remain in office, but equally it's quite difficult to see how Labour would put together a coalition," he said.

Osborne, a prominent Conservative stalwart, did not seek re-election to Parliament, choosing instead to focus on journalism.



'Deep and lasting shock' for Conservatives

The former communications director for Prime Minister David Cameron says the exit poll result will rock the Conservative Party.

Craig Oliver told Sky News Thursday night that if the poll is accurate "there will be deep and lasting shock" in party headquarters as Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to call an early election seems to have backfired.

"It was the biggest gamble a politician has taken for a long time and if that exit poll is right, it's failed," he said.



Calls for PM May to quit

Senior Labour Party adviser Emily Thornberry says that if the election exit poll is correct then Prime Minister Theresa May should consider resigning.

"If it's true, these are great results," she said. "If this is right, I think she should consider her position. I think she should go. She has manifestly failed."

Thornberry said May was guilty of showing "great hubris" when she called the snap election.

"She was 20 points ahead and thought she could do whatever she wanted with the country and we said, 'no' and we meant it."



Pound falls sharply on exit poll

The pound has fallen sharply after exit polls for Britain's election forecast that the Conservatives would not get a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.

A one pound coin lies on a Union Flag.

The pound lost more than 2 cents against the dollar within seconds of the exit poll result, falling from $1.2955 to $1.2752 late Thursday.

Some investors worry that the lack of a majority for the Conservatives, which are widely expected to top the poll, would weaken the next government's hand in the upcoming negotiations to leave the European Union.

A big majority would provide political certainty for the next five years, giving Prime Minister Theresa May a freer hand in the Brexit negotiations to make the compromises necessary for a deal. She would, the reasoning goes, be able resist calls from some in her party who are prepared to see Britain leave without any sort of trade deal that would provide business easy and cheap access to the EU single market.



Can the exit poll be trusted?

Analysts are being very careful about trusting the exit polls. No-one is drawing conclusions on the prediction of 17 seats lost for Conservatives and 34 seats gained for Labour. These polls have been wrong in the past, remember. First actual results are expected around 1.45am.



Here's the BBC exit poll result:



The polls have closed

Big Ben has sounded and the polls are closed. First results expected in around 45 minutes. Early BBC prediction is a reduced number of seats for the Conservatives and no majority, which would be a disaster for Theresa May.

Counting staff verify postal votes at the Meadowbank Sports Centre counting centre in Edinburgh, Scotland, after the polls closed in the British general election. AFP



PM May looking to increase majority

Theresa May, meanwhile, knows the statistics suggest she will do better if the turnout is low. She is looking to increase her majority in the House of Commons, the whole point of calling the snap election in the first place. Les encouragement from her to get people to the ballot box.



Polling stations preparing to close

We are just minutes away from voting closing in the UK election. Soon after 1am UAE time, we can expect the first exit polls, to give the first clues on how the British people have voted. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be hoping for a high turnout.



This election has gone to the dogs

Alsatians, poodles, pinschers and pugs lined up at Britain's polling stations on Thursday as thousands of voters brought their canine companions to take part in the general election.

A dog waits with its owner outside a general-election polling station at the Town Hall in Chipping Norton, U.K., on Thursday, June 8, 2017.

Pet owners took to Twitter to post photographs of their dogs next to the polling station signs at schools and community centres across the country, using the hashtag #dogsatpollingstations.

Among the 8,000 pets posted were Gina the Porkie, Bruno the Staffy and a Bichon Frise wearing the colours of the Suffragette movement that won women the right to vote.

The meme provided light relief from a frequently tetchy election campaign to decide who will lead Britain's Brexit talks, current Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May or Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"There may have been so many elections recently that we are getting a bit fatigued by it all," said The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"However, there is one thing we Brits will never tire of, and that is taking photographs of our pet dogs at polling stations and posting them online."

Not to be outdone, other animal lovers brought along their horses, rats, tortoises and also set up the rival #catsatpollingstations, with feline visitors to the polling booth posted on Twitter.

The Charity Dogs Trust urged owners to bring their dogs to the "paw-ing station" and called upon vote volunteers to "pop a water bowl outside and keep it topped up with water for any visiting pooches".



In the shadow of terror, Britain votes in key election

Here's AFP's election preview

Britain went to the polls on Thursday for a snap election called by Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of Brexit after a campaign shadowed by terrorism.

May called the vote in April, when opinion poll ratings for her and her centre-right Conservative party were sky high, presenting herself as the strong leader to take Britain into Brexit talks.

But Islamist attacks in London and Manchester have put her under pressure over her six years as interior minister, while campaign missteps have dented her reputation as a safe pair of hands.

Meanwhile opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war campaigner deemed unelectable by a majority of his own lawmakers, has run an energetic campaign, promising change and an end to austerity.

Labour candidates Jeremy Corbyn (left) and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

While May has been touring target seats around the country, delivering slogan-heavy speeches to small groups of hand-picked activists, Corbyn has drawn large crowds to open-air rallies.

Speaking to reporters on her plane during a final burst of campaigning on Wednesday, May insisted she had no regrets about calling the vote three years early.

“I’ve enjoyed the campaign,” she said. “There is a very clear choice for people when they come to vote.”

Asked what would constitute success, the 60-year-old vicar’s daughter said: “I never predict election results.”

Corbyn, a 68-year-old leftwinger who has never held ministerial office and defied the odds to win the Labour leadership two years ago, urged supporters in Glasgow to think big.

“Wouldn’t it be great if on Friday we woke up to... a Labour government that will be a government for all of our communities across the whole of the country,” he said.

‘Little confidence’

It is the third time Britain has gone to the polls in two years, twice for a general election and once for the EU referendum, and voter fatigue appeared to be an issue among the early voters.

“I don’t think it has really been a campaign, we don’t know anything about what they are going to do about Brexit, it’s been pointless really,” said Joe Kerney, 53, at a polling station in Hackney, east London.

“I have little confidence in anybody,” added voter Simon Bolton, 41. “I think we lack quality in terms of who we can choose, it is very limited.”

The election is May’s first since taking office after Britons voted by 52 percent to leave the European Union.

May has accused Corbyn of being unprepared for negotiations set to begin on June 19, and unwilling to curb mass migration — a key driver of the Brexit vote.

But her government’s record on cutting funding for health and education have also featured strongly in the campaign, to the benefit of Labour.

The Conservatives were also damaged by a manifesto plan for elderly care that would see some pay more.

Then came the suicide bombing at a Manchester concert on May 22, which killed 22 people including seven children, followed by Saturday’s knife and van attack in London, which left eight dead.

Campaigning was twice suspended in the aftermath of the attacks, which May blamed on “evil” Islamist ideology.

The Conservatives have always been strong on defence and security, and they have sought to exploit Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance and his alleged past support for Irish paramilitaries.

But May also faced uncomfortable questions over cuts to police numbers during her time as interior minister, amid accusations that the attackers in Manchester and London Bridge had slipped through the intelligence net.

Security tightened

Security on voting day was reviewed following the London attack, with the city’s Metropolitan Police force implementing a “specialist and highly flexible operation” which it said could be deployed as needed.

Polling stations, many located in schools and community centres, opened at 7:00am (0600 GMT) and will close at 10:00pm, with 49.6 million registered voters electing a total of 650 MPs to parliament.

Overall turnout in the 2015 general election was 66.4 percent.

An exit poll will give an indication of the outcome, although final results will not emerge until early Friday.

As the Conservatives and Labour trade blows, the smaller pro-European Liberal Democrats and the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party (UKIP) have failed to gain much traction.



What happens after all votes are counted?

The vote-counting begins immediately after the polls close and by dawn on June 9 the picture of who has won should be clear.

As soon as possible, the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, asks the person most likely to command the confidence of the Commons to become prime minister and form an administration.

This will typically be the leader of the largest party and would happen only once the likely nature of the government is clear.

Parliament meets on June 13 to elect a new speaker and swear in MPs.

The state opening of parliament by Queen Elizabeth takes place on June 19, when she will read out her government's programme for the coming parliamentary year.

The Brexit negotiations are also due to start in the week beginning June 19.



What you need to know about voting

The polls are open from 10am UAE time (7am BST) until 1am UAE time (10pm BST).

There are around 47 million registered voters.

British, Irish and Commonwealth residents aged 18 and over can vote, plus British citizens living abroad who have been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years.

Citizens must register to vote and voting is not compulsory.



Who can the UK vote for?

The main parties across the whole of Britain are the Conservatives (centre-right), led by May, and Labour (left), led by Jeremy Corbyn, followed by the Liberal Democrats (centre-left), the UK Independence Party (populist) and the Greens (left).

The Scottish Nationalists (left), Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru (left) and four parties from Northern Ireland also won seats at the last general election in 2015.

Polls suggest the Conservatives are on course for victory. However, Labour might be able to form a government with backing from smaller left-wing parties.

The main issues are Brexit, terrorism, the state-run National Health Service, immigration and the economy, according to polls.



How does the UK election work?

There are 650 constituencies across the UK, meaning 326 MPs are needed for an absolute majority in parliament's lower House of Commons.

May had a slim working majority of 17 at the dissolution of the last parliament and called the election in a bid to strengthen her position going into the Brexit talks.

Each constituency is won on a first-past-the-post basis, meaning the candidate with the most votes in that seat becomes its MP.

Despite the focus on the party leaders, voters are not directly choosing their prime minister, only their local MP.

A parliament is elected for a maximum of five years, meaning the next general election must be held by June 2022 at the latest.