UK Elections: Theresa May Loses Majority, Insists to Stay

Published June 9th, 2017 - 06:45 GMT
British PM Prime Minister Theresa May makes a controversial statement outside 10 Downing Street on May 3, 2017. (AFP/Justin Tallis)
British PM Prime Minister Theresa May makes a controversial statement outside 10 Downing Street on May 3, 2017. (AFP/Justin Tallis)

British Prime Minister Theresa May early Friday insisted she would seek to remain in office, even as election results indicated her Conservative Party had lost its majority and the opposition called for her resignation.

"At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability," she said after being re-elected in her Maidenhead constituency.

"And if, as the indications have shown and if this is correct that the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability - and that is exactly what we will do."

An early morning BBC forecast based on partial results put the Conservatives on 318 seats, down 13 from the last election in 2015. To get an overall majority, a party needs 326 seats in the 650-seat parliament.

The forecast put the opposition Labour party on 267 seats, up 29 seats on the last election, while the Scottish National Party was in third place on 32 seats.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on May to step down as the results came in, saying she should "go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country."

Analysts said May had lost all credibility after the snap election, which she called in late April in the hope of increasing her mandate to lead the country's Brexit negotiations.

"May's credibility is shot," even if her Conservative party does "haul over the line" by keeping a small majority, Simon Usherwood, a political analyst at the University of Surrey, said on Twitter.

But he said there was a "big question of what the party will do about it: can it afford another leadership contest?"

Clive Lewis, a Labour lawmaker who stood for re-election in the eastern city of Norwich, disagreed, saying on Twitter: "Whatever happens, May is toast!"

Colin Talbot a professor of government at Manchester University, said Conservatives were still defending May.

"She's toast but they can't admit it," Talbot tweeted.

"At some point it becomes about the other senior Tories positioning themselves for the next leadership election and future cabinet," Matthew Goodwin, an academic author of several books on Brexit and British politics, replied to Talbot.

Speaking to the BBC, John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor, said May's decision to call a snap election had been a "catastrophic error."

Britain's two most popular newspapers, the right-wing tabloids The Daily Mail and The Sun, appeared to agree, questioning May's future in commentaries saying her gamble in calling the snap election appeared to have "spectacularly misfired" and caused a "disastrous loss of seats."

The results came as a surprise after a final opinion poll had suggested the Conservatives were on course to increase their parliamentary majority despite a surge by Labour.

Usherwood said the likely options for forming a new government in Britain, if the end results was a hung parliament, were "all highly problematic."

The options include a minority government formed by May's Conservatives, or an informal "confidence and supply" arrangement with Unionist lawmakers from Northern Ireland, he said.

A third option is a loose coalition between Labour, the biggest opposition party, and the smaller Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats.

There are around 47 million eligible voters in Britain. Turnout was put at 68.5 per cent after results in 575 constituencies had been counted.

About two-thirds of 47 million eligible voters, or some 30 million people, had been expected to take part in the election.

The short election campaign was marred by two terrorist attacks and overshadowed by uncertainty in relation to Brexit.

May campaigned on a promise of "strong and stable" leadership through the EU departure process.

But domestic policy dominated much of the debate in the latter stages, particularly security issues since the Manchester Arena and London Bridge terrorist attacks on May 22 and June 3 respectively, which killed a total of 30 people.

Left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn focused much of his campaign on the National Health Service, which has been subject to cuts and privatization in recent years.

© 2019 dpa GmbH

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