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So we have a hung parliament – what happens next?

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
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You have to feel sorry for Theresa May, don’t you? First she said she wasn’t going to call an election – four times! – and then, suddenly, she was calling an election, which must have been very confusing for her. Then she developed an allergy to Jeremy Corbyn so bad that she was literally incapable of being in the same room as him, which I’m sure was also incredibly frustrating. 

Now, her strong and stable leadership is looking decidedly wobbly, with the Conservatives failing to win enough seats to get an overall majority in the House of Parliament. 

What is happening?

Well: not that much for the moment. Theresa May is still PM for the time being, and the Tories remain in office until things get a bit clearer (or she bins it off entirely and resigns).

That might not remain the case, however. Because no party has a majority, any coalition of parties could form to create that majority. Labour have suggested that they’ll try to form a minority government – which basically means they’ll rely on smaller parties to pass bills. 

As it stands, the Conservatives have 316 seats – 10 too few to form a majority government of 326. And the DUP won 10 of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats – meaning a coalition between the two parties would just form a majority government.

Theresa May's snap election has backfired, and the Tories have lost their majority

When will we know what’s going on?

Theresa May is visiting Buckingham Palace today to ask to form a government, with some suggesting that she has reached a deal with the Northern Irish DUP – a controversial choice for many, considering their anti-choice, homophobic stance. 

All parties have a deadline of 13 June, when the new Parliament meets for the first time, so we’ll probably know what’s going on before then.

It was a good night for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

Are we going to have to put up with ANOTHER election any time soon?

I regret to inform you that: maybe. 

In the past, minority governments have held elections fairly soon in order to get a majority. Alternatively, an opposition party can hold a vote of no confidence, forcing another election.

Theresa May may also be forced to resign – paving the way for other party members, like Boris Johnson, to stand for leader. 

A street cleaner brushes up outside Number 10

What does it mean for Brexit?

Theresa May justified her decision to hold a snap election by saying that the UK needed a “strong and stable” government to handle Brexit negotiations.

“It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election,” she said at the time. “But it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.

“So, tomorrow, let the House of Commons vote for an election, let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programmes for Government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.”

With a hung parliament, however, Britain is arguably more divided than ever – and EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger has now said that Brexit talks may not now start as planned in 11 days' time.

Speaking to German radio, he said: “We need a government that can act. With a weak negotiating partner, there's the danger than the negotiations will turn out badly for both sides... I expect more uncertainty now.”

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron

What are the party leaders saying?

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, on being re-elected to his Islington North seat with 40,086 votes (the most ever cast for an MP in his constituency), has called upon Theresa May to resign as prime minister.

“People have had quite enough of austerity politics,” he said, before adding that  May should “go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country”.

However May, re-elected as Maidenhead MP, has once again repeated her ‘strong and stable’ mantra – suggesting she does not plan to back down. “This country needs a period of stability” and if the Tories have won the most seats “it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability”.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, meanwhile, seemed less than positive about the result: “Britain is, I think, a rather divided country and it massively saddens me.

“We have a situation now where hopefully, maybe, politicians may learn that calling referendums and general elections to suit your party rather than suiting the country is something to be avoided.

“This is a moment where we as a country need genuinely to come together and find collective solutions that work for all of us.

“These are times that can be seen as dark, but they can be much brighter if we choose to work together.”