Pub in London's finance district cheers for Cameron
Drinkers at a pub near the skyscrapers of the City of London toasted indications that Britain could be headed for a second government led by Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday.
As an exit poll showed his Conservative party ahead and results began to filter through, the drink was flowing as one of Britain's many election night parties got underway.
The mood was upbeat at the Draft House in Seething Lane, a bar that serves a large selection of world beers for connoisseurs in the heart of London's financial district.
"I voted for the Conservatives because Labour is not competent on financial matters," said finance industry worker Ben Woodthorpe, 39, as he sipped beer.
"It's very exciting because it's too close to call."
Several fellow City workers sent up a "Hooray!" as a television screen announced the exit poll showing Cameron set to take more seats than predicted -- albeit just short of an outright majority.
There were smiles all round as several drinkers gave victory signs.
"Why would you change? The economy is doing well after five years with the Conservatives," said City worker Grant.
Polls up to the eve of the election had indicated the vote would be one of Britain's closest in decades, but the exit poll confounded expectations by showing the Labour party of Ed Miliband losing seats.
"If Labour comes back it would be catastrophic for the economy," said banker Sarah as she sipped a glass of white wine.
"We will follow the result with great interest, because it will be too close to call and we don't want the Labour party to make a mess again of the economy!"
The City has traditionally been a stronghold of Conservative support and a key source of donors for the party during the campaign.
- Surprise and shock -
As young men in suits mingled with women in dresses and office gear, some pub-goers expressed surprise at the projected result.
"I'm very shocked that Labour has done so well, very very shocked," said Perrine after she saw the centre-left party led by Ed Miliband was predicted to take 239 seats -- 17 fewer than in 2010. "Very bad news, I don't like Labour."
Others remarked that the Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigns for Scotland to become an independent country, was predicted to increase their seats dramatically from six to 58.
"I think I'm quite surprised how much the SNP have increased their numbers," said Miranda.
The other shock of the night was the apparent dramatic decline of the Liberal Democrats, the centrist party led by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that has been in coalition with the Conservatives since 2010.
Perrine said she was "very surprised that the Liberal Democrats have lost so many seats."
Miranda agreed. "I'm quite surprised... how much the Lib Dems have actually lost in numbers."
© 2015 AFP