Nick Clegg has lost his seat to the Labour Party in Sheffield Hallam, becoming the first major figure to fall in the 2017 general election.
The former leader of the Liberal Democrats – and former deputy prime minister – had held the seat since 2005 and had a majority of 2,353 in 2015.
The seat has now been taken by first time MP Jared O’Mara.
The exit poll suggests that the Lib Dems will win 14 seats – up from the eight it won at the last election.
Mr Clegg took the party into a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 and became the deputy prime minister to David Cameron.
At the time, the Lib Dems held 57 seats, but after the next election five years later, the number was cut to eight.
Senior figures within the Lib Dems have ruled out a similar deal after Thursday’s election, as the Conservatives have again come out as the largest party – but failed to secure a majority.
Sir Menzies Campbell said he would be “astonished” if the current leader, Tim Farron, joined with the Tories for a second coalition, or formed a “progressive alliance” with Labour.
The party’s press office has tweeted that there will be “no coalition” and “no deals”.
Sir Menzies told the BBC: “We know about coalitions and we know [how] getting influence is very, very difficult indeed.
“Our experience after the last coalition [is] the major party gets the credit for everything that is done and the junior party takes the blame for the things the people don’t like.”
He said that Theresa May had made her position on pursuing a hard Brexit clear, adding: “How could Tim Farron possibly ally himself with that? He [could not] take the party with him, nor any of the over 100,000 membership.”
But Sir Menzies also criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit – saying it “frankly almost defies definition” – so he could not see any way Mr Farron could join with that party either.
Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown tweeted that Britain “is more polarised than ever in my life time”, if the exit polls are right.
He added: “REALLY time now for the centre to get its act together.”
Lord Ashdown also told ITV News that Theresa May had “lost all credibility” during this election.
Speaking on Sky News, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Lynne Featherstone said: “If the exit poll is right we’ll have a government of chaos.”
The Lib Dems focused their campaign on winning the votes of Remainers, pledging a second referendum on the Brexit deal negotiations and calling for the UK to remain in the single market.
The party also pledged to put a penny on income tax to fund the NHS and to legalise cannabis.
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