After poll debacle, May to ally with DUP to form new govt in UK

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 09, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May

Conservative boss vows to lead country through Brexit talks

British Prime Minister Theresa May will cling to power, despite her party’s unexpectedly poor performance in the snap general election, as the Conservative Party drew on support from its Northern Irish ally, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which gained seats in the poll.

“I can now form a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time,” a grim-faced May said outside 10 Downing Street, as the Conservatives lost at least 12 seats, while the Labour party won at least 29, shattering the Conservative party’s hope of gaining clear validation of its Brexit strategy, as its gamble went disastrously wrong. By early afternoon results for all but one of the 650 seats had been declared, with the Conservatives on 318 — well short of the 326 they needed to have an overall majority — while the Labour was on 261.

“She wanted a mandate; the mandate she’s got is lost votes, lost support and lost confidence,” said Jeremy Corbyn, as he secured a greater majority in his constituency of Islington North.

May said the government would guide the country through critical Brexit talks due to take place later this month, suggesting there would be no change to the timeline. “What the country needs more than ever is certainty,” she said, justifying why the Conservatives alongside the DUP were the right parties to lead the country.

“We will enter into discussions with the Conservatives about how it may be possible to bring stability to our nation at this time of great challenge,” said DUP head Arlene Foster on Friday.

Canterbury lost

While the Conservatives gained seats in Scotland, they failed to capitalise as much as they had hoped for from the collapse of support for the UK Independence Party. They also failed to make gains in Labour heartlands, where May had campaigned personally, while the party suffered shock defeats such as in the south-eastern city of Canterbury, which had been a safe Conservative seat since 1918.

Many upsets

Even beyond the Conservatives, the polls delivered a number of upsets — with two senior SNP figures Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond losing their seats, as the party came under pressure from a support resurgence for Conservatives and Labour.

The Liberal Democrats also appeared to be having muted success at efforts to revitalise the party’s support base through its pledge to hold a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. Nick Clegg, the party’s former leader who was Deputy Prime Minister under the 2010 coalition with the Conservatives, lost his seat, while the party leader, Tim Farron, held on with a narrow majority.

Clinging on

Commentators had suggested that turnout, particularly among young people, would be key to the result, with Labour benefiting from a high turnout, especially of youth inspired by Corbyn’s campaign, centred around the idea of “For the Many Not the Few,” against the Conservatives’ “strong and stable” emphasis. May stays on as Prime Minister in defiance of critics within and outside her own party, following a campaign that focused closely on her and her track record, but during whose course her personal ratings fell sharply.

This was the result of a combination of policy blunders, including on social care for the elderly, and the perception that May was failing to engage with the electorate directly.

“When we didn’t know her she appeared a rather magnificent and dignified figure… the more they have seen of her the less they seem to trust her,” Matthew Paris, a political commentator, and former Conservative MP, told ITV News on Thursday.

“This election is a rejection of May and hard Brexit. A vote for one to go and the other to be revisited,” tweeted Alastair Campbell, former campaign director to Tony Blair.

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Published on June 09, 2017
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