Diminished May forms minority govt after poll throws up hung parliament
The Conservative party won 318 seats, short by eight from the majority mark of 326 in the 650-member House of Commons.world Updated: Jun 09, 2017 20:13 IST
Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday began forming a minority government after a bruising election result that saw her party losing its majority and a hung parliament, throwing British politics into turmoil and uncertainty in forthcoming Brexit talks.
A grim-faced May announced the decision to form the government after meeting Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace, soon after election results again proved opinion polls and bookmakers wrong. The pound took a beating, while EU leaders watched London closely.
The Conservative party won 318 seats, short by eight from the majority mark of 326 in the 650-member House of Commons. A politically diminished May entered into an “understanding” with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which won 10 seats, to remain in power.
Labour increased its tally from 232 in 2015 to 261, building on a resurgence led by its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Liberal Democrats also increased strength from eight to 12, while the Scottish National Party was reduced from 56 to 35 in the election that many believed was unnecessary and that saw May’s gamble to gain a large majority fail spectacularly. Questions were soon raised about the longevity of the minority government, the possibility of another election in the near future, the approach to Brexit talks that will inevitably be influenced by the election results, and the role the resurgent Labour will play in future.
The Labour party and DUP have worked together in the past, but the latter joining hands with Labour was ruled out due to Corbyn being its leader: Corbyn has long been associated with DUP’s rival in trouble-torn Northern Ireland politics, Sinn Fein.
Corbyn and Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron criticised May for not resigning after not only failing to achieve her intended large mandate but also failing to retain the number of seats the party had in the last parliament: 331. Farron said May “should be ashamed” and should resign “if she has an ounce of self respect…she called this election expecting a coronation, and took each and every one of us for granted in the most cynical way possible…she has put the future of the country at risk with arrogance and vanity”.
European Union leaders fear May’s loss of majority raises the risk of failure in Brexit negotiations due to start this month that will usher Britain out of the EU in March 2019.
Guenther Oettinger, the German member of the EU executive, was among those warning that a weak British leader may be a problem once talks start.
(With inputs from Reuters)