YOU could almost hear the sharp intake of breath across the nation as the exit poll was revealed.

For it confirmed that this election had, indeed, been a Br-exit poll.

It was everything the Conservatives could have dreamed of - and the stuff of nightmares for everyone else as the clocks drifted into Friday the 13th.

Labour, squeezed from both remain and leave voters, had hoped a promise to allow people to have the final say on a deal (or remain) would be enough to paper over the cracks while the conversation turned to the NHS, public services and ending austerity.

But the scars of three years' feeling cheated by politicians runs deep for those eager to leave the European Union.

And for those with no strong conviction over Europe, sick of the endless debates and confusing issues over trade deals, withdrawal agreements etc, 'getting Brexit done' sounds like an appealing prospect.

The Liberal Democrats were equally battered, a campaign which could never carry the weight of ambition they loaded up six weeks ago.

It wasn't clear what impact Brexit would have.

By 11pm, it was clear.

In Somerset, there was never any real danger the blue wall would be breached.

In 2017, when the Tories had a bad night, MPs here increased their majorities.

And so it is no surprise that all of the county's Conservatives will return to Parliament on Monday, bags packed full of loyalty from back home.

However, it was not always predicted to be quite so clear cut.

Bridgwater Mercury:

Nationally, there was genuine concern among the Conservative Party that a hung parliament was looking increasingly likely.

The Tories' campaign did not go well - and it descended at times into candidates peddling 'outright lies', as one of their own workers said.

Theresa May's unravelling campaign in 2017 was mirrored as Boris Johnson became embroiled in rows over hiding from interviews, on past remarks about homosexual people, Muslims and more, and then he put a journalist's phone in his pocket when refusing to look at a picture of a four-year-old child on the floor at A&E, not to mention the party being reprimanded by Twitter over a hapless social media stunt.

Many at CCHQ were avoiding looking at another picture - of 2017 repeating itself.

And in Taunton Deane and Wells, there were smatterings of discontent among the electorate.

The Liberal Democrats invested BIG in Taunton, and pursued some 'dodgy' campaigning tactics themselves - and yes, that includes buying a wrap-around ad on the County Gazette.

There was hope among Lib Dem activists.

There was hope among Labour activists in Bridgwater and Lib Dems in Wells.

Bridgwater Mercury:

But when the Conservatives could see 2017 returning, the party machine did whatever it took to avoid it - including lying, giving false briefings to journalists and misrepresenting every other party.

This was not the straight-faced, strong and stable, British spirit of fair play embodied by Theresa May. This was the cut-throat, win-at-all-costs campaigning of Vote Leave.

And it worked.

When the Lib Dems (and Labour in particular) could NOT see 2017 returning, they could not find a way to bring it back.

Over the past two years, Brexit has become too big an object to move, or look beyond.

There's no doubt people want to 'get Brexit done', and now Boris Johnson has the chance to deliver.

He has the mandate he - and Theresa May - craved.

But he also has to deliver to the more-than 50% of voters who did not vote for him, including in Labour heartlands and Scottish constituencies on the verge of demanding a say over independence.

And if that oven-ready Brexit proves cold in the middle when the British people tuck in, then we could have a problem digesting anything else...