BRITISH voters dealt Prime Minister Theresa May a devastating blow in a snap election she had called to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks, eradicating her parliamentary majority and throwing Britain into political turmoil.
With no clear winner emerging from Thursday’s election, a wounded May said she would fight on. Her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn, once written off by his opponents as a no-hoper, said she should step down.
Politicians and commentators called her decision to hold the election a mammoth mistake and ridiculed her performance on the campaign trail.
The BBC reported, however, that May did not plan to resign.
‘Theresa May has no intention of announcing her resignation later today,’ BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg told BBC radio, adding, however: ‘It’s not clear to me whether they’re trying to kill the rumours off before she truly makes her mind up.’
With 647 of 650 seats declared, the Conservatives had won 316 seats. Though the biggest single winner, they failed to reach the 326-mark they would need to command a parliamentary majority. Labour had won 261 seats.
With Brexit negotiation talks due to start in 10 days’ time, it was unclear who would form the next government and what the fundamental direction of Brexit would be.
‘If … the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes then it will be incumbent on us to ensure that we have that period of stability and that is exactly what we will do,’ May said after winning her own parliamentary seat of Maidenhead, near London.
After winning his own seat in north London, Corbyn said May’s attempt to win a bigger mandate had backfired.
‘The mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence,’ he said.
‘I would have thought that’s enough to go, actually and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all of the people of this country.’
Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell told BBC radio: ‘We’ll put ourselves forward to serve the country and form a minority government and the reason for that is I don’t think the Conservative Party is stable, I don’t think the prime minister is stable … I think she is a lame duck prime minister.’
McDonnell also said Labour would not do a coalition deal with any other party.
May called the snap election seven weeks ago, even though no vote was due until 2020. At that point, polls predicted she would massively increase the slim majority she had inherited from predecessor David Cameron.
‘Whatever happens, Theresa May is toast,’ said Nigel Farage, former leader of the anti-EU party UKIP.
Sterling fell by more than two cents against the U.S. dollar, hitting an eight-week low of $1.2636, but by 7.30am it had recovered to $1.2710.