British Prime Minister Theresa May (photo: left) lost more than a dozen Parliamentary seats, thus failing to reach the 326 mark that would give the Conservatives a majority, and this plunged Westminster into a Hung Parliament. Labour has done more than expected and May faced pressure to resign on Friday after losing her parliamentary majority, plunging the country into uncertainty as Brexit talks loom.
The pound fell sharply amid fears the Conservative leader will be unable to form a government and could even be forced out of office after a troubled campaign overshadowed by two terror attacks.
After being re-elected with an increased majority in the London commuter seat of Maidenhead, May said Britain “needs a period of stability” as it prepares for the complicated process of withdrawing from the European Union.
She said that while the full results had yet to emerge, her party seemed to have won the most seats and “it would be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability”. The PM had relied on her post-Brexit vote popularity to call for an early election, much early by about three years, seeking a larger mandate to deal with confidence during her Brexit negotiations in Brussels. Her gamble backfired and she is now diminished in the British Parliament.
But Leftist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn (photo: above), whose Labour party surged from 20 points behind, urged May to quit, saying she had “lost votes, lost support and lost confidence”.
With a handful of seats still to be declared, the Conservatives were predicted to win 319 seats, down from 331 in 2015 — yet another upset in a turbulent year since the EU referendum in June 2016.
They were mathematically unable to reach the 326 mark that would give them a majority, meaning they will have to form an informal or formal alliance to forward their agenda.
Labour are expected to increase their share from 229 to 260 seats, resulting in a hung parliament.
May, a 60-year-old vicar’s daughter, is now facing questions over her judgement in calling the election three years early and risking her party’s slim but stable majority of 17.
“It is exactly the opposite of why she held the election and she then has to go and negotiate Brexit in that weakened position,” said Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.
May, who took over after last year’s Brexit referendum, began the formal two-year process of leaving the EU on March 29, promising to take Britain out of the single market and cut immigration.
Seeking to capitalise on sky-high popularity ratings, she called the election a few weeks later, urging voters to give her a stronger mandate to go into Brexit talks that are expected to begin as early as June 19.
Officials in Brussels were hopeful the election would allow her to make compromises, but this has been thrown into question by the prospect of a hung parliament. Theresa May gambled and lost. She must now deal and strike any sort of deals with opposition parties in order to form a government in London. If she cannot do that, she may have to go.
The British Prime Minister will have to go to Buckingham Palace after forming a government – if she does, and inform Queen Elizabeth, Her Majester, the Queen of England – that she has formed a government.
If she can’t form a government, then it will be up to the leftist opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn to try to do so. This is a huge rejection of the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party. This is a catastrophic defeat for Theresa May – heading into the Brexit exit talks.