Miliband and Clegg resign after disastrous night of results

Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour party, has resigned, after a catastrophic night that saw his party all but wiped out in Scotland at the hands of the SNP nationalists, with the party failing to make gains in the rest of the country.

The Labour leader made the announcement at the party's headquarters in central London, explaining that deputy leader Harriet Harman will take over after the VE Day commemorations which will take place at the Cenotaph this afternoon in the capital.

In an extraordinary shock election, which opinion calls had projected would be too close to call, the Conservatives have triumphed with an overall majority, avoiding the need to enter frantic coalition negotiations with an other party.

According to the latest BBC forecast, with 635 of 650 seats declared, the Conservatives have won 329 seats, enough to form a slim majority, with Labour winning 234, the Lib Dems eight, the SNP 56, Plaid Cymru three and Ukip and the Greens both gaining one, leaving others with 19.

For Labour however, it has been a dismal night, with the party now forecast to win 24 seats less than they did in 2010.

The Labour leader, who took charge of the party in 2010 after controversially pipping his brother David to the top Labour job, took to Twitter to thank his staff and concede defeat.

He tweeted: "Defeats are hard, but we're a party that will never stop fighting for the working people of this country."

I am grateful to the people who worked on our campaign and for the campaign they ran. The responsibility for the result is mine alone.

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) May 8, 2015

Defeats are hard, but we’re a party that will never stop fighting for the working people of this country.

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) May 8, 2015

Earlier, after managing to retain his seat in Doncaster, he described the night as "very disappointing and difficult" and said his party had been overwhelmed by a "surge of nationalism".

He added: "Now I want to say to all our dedicated and decent colleagues in Scotland who have lost their seats that I am deeply sorry about what has happened."

Labour's defeat has been compounded by the shock news that the shadow chancellor Ed Balls, had lost his seat in Leeds, to the Conservatives, by 422 votes, after a recount was ordered.

It also lost its election campaign chief Douglas Alexander and its leader in Scotland Jim Murphy, with the SNP stripping Labour of much of its support in Scotland, winning a historic 56 seats and painting much of the map yellow north of the border.

The Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, despite managing to hold on to his Sheffield Hallam seat, also announced he is stepping down this morning, after his party received a mauling in this year's general election, losing 46 seats and many of its biggest names. Tim Farron, a former president of the Liberal Democrats, is rumoured to be taking over the post although he may face competition from Norfolk North MP Norman Lamb.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, also lost his seat of Thanet South to the Conservatives, and has now resigned.

A triumphant David Cameron is expected to meet the Queen today, and will then address the nation outside Number 10.