LONDON — The pound hit highs not seen in years against the dollar and the euro as Britain’s Conservative party stomped to victory in the general election on Thursday night.
The party, which has promised to usher Britain out of the European Union next month, won 365 parliamentary seats. The party had needed a minimum of 326 to secure a parliamentary majority.
On Friday morning, the pound was trading at $1.34, its highest level since May 2018, and it hit a three and a-half year high of 1.20 euros. The FTSE 100 was up 1.8 percent at 7,404.25 in morning trading.
Later in the day, the pound dropped down to $1.33, and remained stable against the euro. The FTSE 100 closed up 1.1 percent at 7,353.44 while the FTSE 250, which includes retailers, investors and medium sized businesses, hit a record high earlier in the day. It closed up 3.4 percent at 21,507.8.
Britain’s Labour party lost 59 seats, with many of them flipping to the Conservatives in a key election that pitted those in favor of leaving the EU against those who want to remain. The Tories now have their largest parliamentary majority since 1987, under then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The election also saw voters having to pick between two polarizing party leaders, Labour’s alt-left Jeremy Corbyn, and the Conservative incumbent prime minister Boris Johnson, who has been pushing for Brexit for years. Corbyn has not resigned yet as head of the party, but confirmed that he won’t lead Labour in the next election in five years’ time.
In an upbeat acceptance speech laced with puns, Johnson acknowledged that it may have been difficult for many traditional Labour supporters to cast a vote for the Conservatives in this election, and he promised not to let them down, and said he was “humbled” by their choice.
He said that in addition to making Brexit happen, he would spend generously on national institutions such as the NHS health service, the police force, infrastructure and technology. He said that under the Conservatives, Britain will be carbon neutral by 2050.