May to form new government after losing parliamentary majority

Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected calls to resign and will instead form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party, a Northern Irish party.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

May said the government would provide certainty and lead Britain in talks with the European Union to secure a successful Brexit deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will form a government supported by a small Northern Irish party after her Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in an election debacle days before talks on Britain's EU departure are due to begin.

Voters wiped out May's parliamentary majority and dealt a devastating blow to the Conservative Party in a snap election she had called to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks.

"We will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular," the prime minister said.

"Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom."

The DUP - which staunchly defends Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom, and takes a conservative approach to social issues - increased its number of seats to 10 in Thursday's election.

With 649 of 650 seats declared, the Conservatives had won 318 seats. Though the biggest single winner, they failed to reach the 326-mark they would need to command a parliamentary majority. Labour had won 261 seats.

A colossal mistake

With no clear winner emerging from Thursday's election, a wounded May signalled that she would fight on. Her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn, once written off by his opponents as a no-hoper, said May should step down and he wanted to form a minority government.

In the aftermath of one of the most sensational nights in British electoral history, politicians and commentators called May's decision to hold the election a colossal mistake and derided her performance on the campaign trail.

The Scots' Loss

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it had been a disappointing night for her party, which lost seats to the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

"The reckless Tory pursuit of a 'hard Brexit' must now be abandoned," the Scottish National Party leader told a press conference.

"The Conservatives have lost their majority and the prime minister has lost all authority and credibility."

The other parties

In a night that threatened to redraw the political landscape once again, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which won 12.5 percent of the vote two years ago and was a driving force behind the Brexit vote, was all but wiped out, hovering around two percent.

The pro-European Liberal Democrats, who have campaigned for a second EU referendum, increased their number of seats from nine, but their former leader Nick Clegg lost his seat.

The campaign had played out differently in Scotland, the main faultline being the SNP's drive for a second referendum on independence from Britain, having lost a plebiscite in 2014.

An uncertain future

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.

"It creates another layer of uncertainty ahead of the Brexit negotiations," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA currency traders.

Despite campaigning against Brexit, Labour has accepted the result but promised to avoid a "hard Brexit", focusing on maintaining economic ties with the bloc.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies