Polls open in United Kingdom election after campaign marred by attacks

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Theresa May's future as Britain's prime minister was thrown into doubt after early projections showed that her gamble to call an early election backfired spectacularly just 10 days before Brexit negotiations were due to start.

Conservative rivals will immediately discuss the possibility of replacing her as leader, arguing that her failure to secure a big win shows up her vulnerabilities.

Prime Minister Theresa May was fighting to hold on to her job on Friday as British voters denied her the stronger mandate she had sought to lead the country into divorce talks with the European Union.

May had unexpectedly called the snap election seven weeks ago, even though no vote was due until 2020.

The exit poll, although a good indicator of broadly how Britons have voted, has not always correctly predicted the exact result in the past.

"I would have thought that's enough to go, actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all of the people of this country".

Since then, the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union (EU) in June 2016 has meant a very different political landscape.

May was criticized for making a number of U-turns on social welfare and she came under fire for a controversial proposal on who should pay for the cost of care for the elderly, a policy that became known as the "dementia tax". For instance, the poll failed to predict a Tory majority in 2015.

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In polls leading up to the campaign's final day, May's lead over Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was seen shrinking to 6 percentage points.

Sterling fell over 1.5% to 1.27 United States dollars following the poll, which shows the Conservatives are set to be the largest party but 12 short of the 326 required for a parliamentary majority.

Ms May's ruling Conservatives are on 44 per cent, Labour at 34 per cent, the Liberal Dem-ocrats at 9 per cent, with far-right UKIP at 5 per cent, the Scottish National Party at 4 per cent and the Green Party at 2 per cent.

Against the euro, the pound plummeted over 1% to 1.13 euros.

With almost two-thirds of the seats counted, the results appeared to be generally bearing out an exit poll that predicted the Conservatives would get 314 of the 650 seats in Parliament, down from 330, while the Labour Party was projected to win 266, up from 229.

In Scotland, the pro-independence SNP were in retreat despite winning most seats.

Alex Salmond, the SNP's former leader and the former head of Scotland's devolved government, was among those who lost their seats, along with the leader of the SNP's lawmakers in the London parliament, Angus Robertson.

Britain's Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at an event in Runcorn, England, Wednesday June 7, 2017, ahead of the general election on Thursday.

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