Friday, December 09, 2022

May fails in election gamble as voters throw hung parliament

By PTI Updated: Jun 09, 2017 11:05 pm

London, June 9 (PTI): UK Prime Minister Theresa May today failed spectacularly in her gamble to call early election to boost her position during Brexit negotiations as voters robbed her of the parliamentary majority, prompting calls for her immediate resignation.

Though May’s Conservative Party emerged as the single largest party on a sensational election night, the impressive show by 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 shock defeat for Conservatives – despited pre-poll projections of a comfortable majority – is seen by the British media as a “humiliation” for May to continue in her position.

May in April had chosen to call the election three years ahead of the schedule to try to strengthen her hand in talks with the European Union to pull Britain out of the single market.

The result threw the UK in a political turmoil amid increasing terror-related incidents.

May won her Maidenhead seat in south-east England with 37,780 votes, nonetheless May faced pressure to resign after losing her parliamentary majority she had before the election.

Conservative MP Anna Soubry publicly questioned whether May should remain as leader after the elections results, which she called “dreadful” and a “disaster”.

Labour’s Corbyn, 68, urged the prime minister “to go” and said he was “ready to serve the country” as May, 60, has lost in her gamble to call a snap election.

But May dismissed any intention of resigning.

According to a Downing Street statement, May was headed to the Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth II to say her party can form the government with the support of 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs in the House of Commons.

The election had been classified as a “Brexit election” and the result is being seen as giving hope to the 48 per cent who had voted to remain in the EU in the June 2016 referendum and a rejection of May’s so-called “hard Brexit” stance.

EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, indicated Brexit talks now be delayed from the date set for its start. Barnier tweeted the talks should begin only when the UK is “ready”.

Conceding to her dashed hopes of a landslide win, May said: “My resolve is the same that as it has been. Whatever the results, the Conservative party will remain the party of stability.”

“At this time, the country needs a period of stability,” and “it will be incumbent on us that we provide that period of stability,” she said.

Corbyn, beaming with hope, claimed on Twitter that the Labour party had “changed the face of British politics”.

“Politics has changed and this is people saying they have had quite enough… I am very proud of the results that are coming in and the vote for hope. The Prime Minister called the election because she wanted a mandate and the mandate is that she has lost seats,” he said after his win from his seat at Islington North in north London.

Labour picked up 29 seats and the Tories were on course to lose 13 seats. The Scottish National Party (SNP) were down by 22, losing seats to the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems, in a major setback for Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The turnout in the election is estimated at around 68.7 per cent up 2 per cent on the last general election.

The Conservatives have won 44 per cent of the vote, Labour 41 per cent, the Liberal Democrats 8 per cent, UKIP 2 per cent and the Greens 2 per cent.

The tally for the remaining parties stands as 35 MPs for SNP, Liberal Democrats have 12 MPs, up four from last time, and others at 13 MPs.

Among some of the heavyweight losses of the night include that of former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg losing his Sheffield Hallam stronghold to the Labour party, while fellow party colleague Vince Cable who had lost his seat in a shock result in 2015 has regained his Twickenham seat.

The final poll result means that a deal has to be done by any party who wants to form a government and the Conservatives have the first chance as the single largest party.

But there is also a chance the UK could go back to polls later this year under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, if two- thirds of MPs vote for it and lose confidence in a government that is not strong enough.

The last hung Parliament result in the UK was in 2010, when David Cameron took over as PM and formed a Conservative- led coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

This time there is move towards a minority government, which means the governing party would be unable to pass laws and legislation without the votes of other parties that are not part of the government.

It has been expected that a minority Conservative government could probably rely on the votes of the DUP’s 10 MPs from Northern Ireland and talks between the two parties are already underway.

A minority Labour-led government has a much less solid backing as it would have to rely on some MPs from the smaller parties. The SNP could come into play and their position has been that they will not support a Conservative government.

The Lib Dems had also ruled out any coalition deals, having suffered in the previous Tory-led coalition of 2010.

In any scenario, any new government is unlikely to be very stable, increasing the prospect of another general election within months.

The party wanting to form a government needs to see if it can assemble the votes it needs to get its programme of proposed new laws passed in the Queen’s Speech which marks the opening of Parliament, scheduled for June 19.

By PTI Updated: Jun 09, 2017 11:05:52 pm