Prime Minister Theresa May's bet that she could strengthen her grip on power by calling an early election backfired on Friday June 09,2017, with her Conservative Party on the verge of losing its parliamentary majority and May facing calls to resign.
The outcome - an astonishing turn following a campaign that began with predictions that Theresa May would win in a historic landslide - immediately raised questions even among her fellow Tories about whether she could maintain her hold on 10 Downing Street.
It also threw into disarray the country's plans for leaving the European Union, threatening to render Britain rudderless just days before talks were to begin with European leaders over the terms of the nation's exit.
As of 5 a.m., a projection based on a combination of exit polls and official results put the Conservatives at 313 seats - eight short of what they would need for a working majority in the 650-member Parliament and well down from the 331 they won just two years ago.
|Conservative and Unionist Party||313||-12|
|Scottish National Party||35||-21|
|UK Independence Party||0||-1|
The Labour Party was forecast to win 260 seats - an unexpected gain of dozens of seats under far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn
The outcome gave him at least a chance, albeit a remote one, of becoming prime minister - something virtually no one had thought possible before Thursday June 08,2017 's vote.
There was little doubt that the Conservatives would emerge, again, as the largest party. But as Labour unexpectedly picked off seats - especially in areas of London that had voted last year to remain in the EU - May's once-undisputed political authority was being called into question.
"The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate," Corbyn said in an early morning speech after winning reelection to his north London district. "Well, the mandate she's got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough for her to go, actually."
Minutes later, May - her voice trembling - delivered her own speech in which she said that as long as the Conservatives remain the largest party, they should be allowed to govern.
"The country needs a period of stability," she said.