Theresa May's poll gamble backfires

London
9 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May's gamble of calling snap polls spectacularly backfired today with the British electorate delivering a hung Parliament and forcing her to seek the support of a small Northern Irish party for staying in power, as the country braces for hard Brexit talks.

May, jolted by the electoral setback, however, remained defiant to calls for her resignation and asserted that she will form a government with the informal backing of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). "I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen, and I will now form a government -- a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country," a grim-faced May said in a statement delivered outside 10 Downing Street. May, 60, said the two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years, and she believes that they will be able to work together in the interest of the country.

"This will allow us to come together as a country and channel our energies towards a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone in this country securing a new partnership with the EU which guarantees our long-term prosperity. That's what people voted for last June. That's what we will deliver. Now let's get to work," she said. Though May's Conservative Party emerged as the single largest party on a sensational election night, the impressive show by the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn sent the British politics into turmoil, putting May in a complex situation ahead of the Brexit talks scheduled to start on June 19.

The results -- a sort of turnaround in fortunes for both major parties -- have thrown that timetable into doubt. With results declared for nearly all of the 650 seats, Conservatives won 318 while the Opposition Labour secured 261, leaving neither party anywhere close to the 326 seats required for an overall majority. The Tories will now have to rely on the DUP's 10 MPs to get things done. The shock defeat for Conservatives -- despite the pre- poll projections of a comfortable majority -- was seen by the British media as a "humiliation" for May to continue in her position.