David Cameron has won an unexpected majority in the UK's parliamentary elections, overturning poll predictions and sweeping the Conservatives to power, as three of his election rivals quit following their disastrous turnout at the polls.
The Conservative Party managed to secure 326 seats after 643 constituencies were counted, to the Labour party's 230 seats, and eight for the Liberal Democrat party.
"This is clearly a very strong night for the Conservative Party," Cameron said.
Striking a conciliatory tone with his rivals, he promised to govern as the party of "one nation, one United Kingdom," after the election was brought to a much-quicker-than-expected conclusion.
"We can make Britain a place where a good life is in reach for everyone," he said.
Cameron, who will be the first Conservative prime minister to win a second term since Margaret Thatcher, also vowed to counter the rise of Scottish nationalism with more powers for Scotland and Wales.
Polls ahead of Election Day had shown Conservatives locked in a tight race with the opposition Labour Party, raising the possibility of days or weeks of negotiations to form a government.
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However, Labour was routed in Scotland by energised Scottish nationalists who pulled off a landslide victory taking 56 out of 59 seats.
Ed Miliband resigned as the leader of Labour, saying the party needed to "rebuild after this defeat so we can have a government that stands up for working people again."
"It's time for someone else to take forward the leadership of this party, so I'm tendering my resignation," he added.
He said Harriet Harman, the party's deputy leader, would take over until a new leader is elected.
Cameron's coalition partner, Nick Clegg, was one of only a few members of the Liberal Democrat party to retain his seat, but he too resigned as party leader on Friday.
Clegg said he must take responsibility for the party's losses, which he described as much more crushing that he expected.
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One of the big losers of the day was UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who resigned after losing his race.
His party ran third in opinion polls, but by early Friday had won only one seat because its support is spread out geographically.
Farage, who had earlier promised to resign if he lost, told activists "I'm a man of my word."
Farage, UKIP's only nationally known politician, had said before the election it would be "curtains" for him if he failed to win the seat of Thanet South on the coast of southeast England. He came second, beaten by a Conservative rival.
But he raised the prospect he would consider running again in the future.
Britain's economy - recovering after years of turmoil that followed the 2008 financial crisis - was at the core of many voters' concerns. The results suggest that many heeded Cameron's entreaties to back the Conservatives as the party of financial stability.
The pound surged as much as 2 percent after exit poll results were released, as investors took that as reassurance that the country will not see days or weeks of uncertainty over the formation of a new government.