THERESA MAY pledged to get to work delivering Brexit following a meeting with the Queen to form a new minority government.
The PM, who apologised for the mauling at the polls which saw a dozen Tories lose their seats, admitted she needed the support of her “friends” in the DUP following her disastrous election gamble which left us with a hung Parliament.
This means that with the support of the Northern Irish party Mrs May will have roughly the same majority in the Commons that she had before she called the snap election, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed unexpected success.
Speaking outside No10 this afternoon, she said: “I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen and I will now form a government.
“A government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country.
“This government will guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days and deliver on the will of the British people by taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
“It will work to keep our nation safe and secure by delivering the change that I set out following the appalling attacks in Manchester and London.
“Cracking down on the ideology of Islamist extremism and all those who support it and giving the police and the authorities the powers they need to keep our country safe.
“The government I lead will put fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do so that we will fulfil the promise of Brexit together and over the next five years build a country in which no one and no community is left behind, a country in which prosperity and opportunity are shared across this United Kingdom.”
She went on to confirm that she would work together with the DUP, with whom the party has “enjoyed a strong relationship over many years” – and that she would pull Britain together “to secure a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone”.
However, DUP leader Arlene Foster, who gave a statement this afternoon, was a little cooler in her language.
She said: “The PM spoke with me this morning and we will enter discussions with Conservatives to explore how it may be possible to bring stability to the UK at a time of great challenge.”
And the DUP have extremely conservative views on issues such as gay rights and abortion – which could make implementing her social policies more difficult.
They have also been criticised in the past for their links to members of violent loyalist paramilitary groups like the UVF who murdered Republicans during the Troubles.
Mrs May was left scrambling to stay in power after a political earthquake overnight, which saw Labour make significant gains across the country.
The PM, who now knows she made a catastrophic miscalculation when she ordered the snap poll in April, has to rely on the support of minority parties to keep her in No10.
Despite the Tories topping 42 per cent of the vote share for the first time since 1987, they were mathematically unable to get a majority of MPs.
Speaking this afternoon, Mrs May added to her statement outside No10, saying: “My focus last night was on those colleagues who were sadly losing their seats.
“It’s important to form a government that can act in the national interest, and as the party who won the most seats and the most votes we’re the only party that is in a position to do that.
“I obviously wanted a different result last night and I’m sorry for all those colleagues who lost their seats who didn’t deserve to lose and I will reflect on that.”
Downing Street confirmed that Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Brexit Secretary David Davis will keep their roles in the cabinet.
Less prominent roles may be reshuffled tomorrow, it is understood.
After this statement, a senior Tory MP hit out in a comment to ITV political editor Robert Peston.
The Pound crashed nearly two per cent in a matter of minutes as traders reacted in disbelief to the exit poll.
Sterling had hit a two-week high when the polls opened on hopes of a Tory landslide.
She acted quickly this morning to ensure she stays in power – after Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell started talking of getting into No10 by the back door with a potential left-wing coalition.
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Boris Johnson (evens)
The Foreign Secretary has long held ambitions for the top job, but was thwarted by his erstwhile running mate Michael Gove last year.
Would relish another opportunity, and instantly became the bookies favourite to take over when the dreadful exit poll came out.
A video of him refusing to say whether he would still support Theresa May this morning will hav done little to quell concerns in No10 he is plotting a coup.
Amber Rudd (4/1)
It nearly all went horribly wrong for the Home Secretary this election after a recount was required for her to keep her Hastings and Rye seat.
She eventually held on with a wafer-thin majority of 346, keeping her in the hunt to turn her impressive campaign performances into a leadership bid.
Stuck with a tough brief and being unable to attack her predecessor (as she happens to be her boss), she has proved a capable performer.
Philip Hammond (14/1)
The Chancellor came under fire earlier this year for his hated “white van tax”, and was forced to U-turn on the National Insurance rise.
That was the first blot on the otherwise immaculate copybook of the man known as “spreadsheet Phil”, who has now held several top Cabinet posts.
Like Mrs May a reluctant Brexiteer, he could take over if a steady hand on the tiller is what’s required.
George Osborne (25/1)
He may no longer be in Parliament but with his coruscating election coverage he is undoubtedly the Tory who had the best campaign.
Taking out revenge on the PM for kicking him out of the Cabinet his Evening Standard front pages have been a constant thorn in her side.
Counting against him is that he would need a friendly Tory to step aside to trigger a by-election so he can re-join the Commons – and his brand is still toxic among certain groups – but he still attracts a large following among Tory MPs.
Courtesy of Sun Bets
We have a hung parliament – so what happens next?
As the current Prime Minister and leader of the largest party in Parliament, Theresa May has the right to have first go at forming a government.
She appears to have struck an informal deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to support a minority government when needed.
To stay in power the PM will have to win a vote on her overall policy programme within two weeks, following the Queen’s Speech on June 19.
If she does make an arrangement with the DUP, she will almost certainly win that vote – but if she has not, she could lose it and her government would fall.
Then Jeremy Corbyn would have a chance to strike his own deal with the smaller left-wing parties.
This is unlikely to succeed because the total number of seats won by Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens is less than those won by the Tories alone.
If neither main party leader could form a government, new elections would be held in the autumn.
The DUP have pledged to support them in a “confidence and supply” deal – which is not a formal coalition, but an agreement only to help them on a vote-by-vote basis.
A source told The Guardian: “We want there to be a government. We have worked well with May. The alternative is intolerable.
“For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, we will ensure there’s a Tory PM.”
Despite her strong exterior, she will now be facing serious questions about her leadership – especially after alienating many of her Cabinet and backbenchers over her close relationship to her two aides.
A considerable amount of blame for the election strategy has landed on Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill today for running a cosy campaign which failed to communicate with her wider team.
Despite riding high in the polls for months, the PM threw it all away with a gamble that has not paid off for her.
The DUP has been opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership ever since he took office, upset by his past associations with Republicans from the province.
Back in November 2015 their Westminster leader Nigel Dodds blasted his top team in the Commons.
He said: “There has been no enemy of Britain’s they haven’t defended, no cause of this country they haven’t denigrated, no security service they haven’t scorned and abused.
“These men are unfit to oppose and their opposition to action doesn’t stem from the sincere scruples I, or my colleagues, or the Foreign Affairs Committee share.”
Speaking during a debate on airstrikes in Syria he said: “It’s the petulant, putrid response of the irresponsible revolutionary bedsit they barely seem to have clambered out of.
“No more time should be wasted on the opinions of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
“And for Labour and the country’s sake, I hope Labour MPs waste no more time either. They have very little time left.”
Mrs May was set to deliver a speech on the steps of Downing Street and reveal her next move, but this has been scrapped for the meantime as the Tories try to sort out the wreckage of a race they seemed set to win easily just a few weeks ago.
Instead of providing “strong and stable” leadership she has plunged the country’s future into doubt, and having called the election to get a mandate for the tough Brexit talks in the days ahead, EU chiefs are likely to see her weaker than before.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, tweeted: “Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready; timetable and EU positions are clear.
“Let’s put our minds together on striking a deal.”
And Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. Added: “We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end.
“Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as result of ‘no negotiations’.”
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader who hung onto his seat, said if Mrs May had “an ounce of self-respect”then she would resign – and called on her to put Brexit taks on ice.
Nicola Sturgeon said she had “lost all authority and credibility” after her failed gamble threw the future of Britain in doubt.
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Some of the key details from the turbulent election night:
Mrs May had been hoping to win a commanding majority she could use as a strong platform to push through her radical domestic reforms as well as our EU exit.
She declared it was “the most important election for this country” in her lifetime, but has lost a dozen seats after the expected huge swing of Ukip voters to Conservative failed to materialise.
With many ending up voting for Labour instead, it suggested this was an election about living standards and not Brexit as the PM had campaigned on.
But despite a buoyant Jeremy Corbyn joining a host of senior Labour figures urging her to quit, sources in Tory HQ suggest the PM will definitely be staying on for the meantime.
The hugely disappointing results meant the knives were soon out for Mrs May though, who could be ousted as leader of her party less than a year after taking over.
Boris Johnson emerged as the most likely contender, but he could face competition from Amber Rudd after the Home Secretary narrowly held on to her seat.
As the PM recovers today from her election shock, members of her own party are going on the attack on her leadership.
Anna Soubry, who just held on to her Broxtowe seat, says she should “consider her position” after the result.
She added: “We ran a pretty dreadful campaign. And that’s me being generous.
“This is a very bad moment for the Conservative Party and we need to take stock, and our leader needs to take stock too.”
Backbencher Nigel Evans was damning in his assessment of the campaign, saying the party “derailed” it by the introduction of radical social care changes.
He said: “We have not shot ourselves in the foot, we have shot ourselves in the head.”
And Nigel Farage says Mrs May is “fatally damaged” by the result, while the former Tory Chancellor George Osborne dubbed it “completely catastrophic for the Tories”.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who held on to his seat despite some predictions he could lose, accused Boris Johnson of “sharpening the knife” and preparing to get Mrs May out.
David Davis is also being blamed for the debacle, with Tories briefing that it was he who convinced Mrs May to call the for the election in the first place.
Theresa May’s speech on a disastrous night for the Tories
At the election count in her Maidenhead constituency the PM said:
“And if, as the indications have shown and if this is correct that the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability – and that is exactly what we will do.”
She continued: “As we ran this campaign, we set out to consider the issues that the key priorities for the British people.
“Getting the Brexit deal right, ensuring that we can identify and do something about the challenges facing our country, doing what is in the national interest.
“That is always what I have tried to do in my time as a Member of Parliament. My resolve to do that is the same this morning as it always has been.
“The country needs a period of stability, and whatever the results are the Con party will ensure that we fulfil our duty in ensuring that stability so that we can all, as one country, go forward together.”
In a sign of how bad the night has gone for Mrs May her party lost Canterbury – a seat it has held for a century.
One of Mrs May’s key allies, Cabinet minister Ben Gummer, was kicked out of Parliament after losing in Ipswich.
He was the architect of the Tory manifesto – which is already being blamed for the below-par performance of the party tonight.
Tim Farron’s Lib Dems failed to make big inroads in a dramatic night of results – which has also seen the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg booted out of Parliament.
And during a disastrous night for Ukip, the party’s leader Paul Nuttall came a lowly third in Boston and Skegness – despite it being the Brexit capital of the UK.
He quit this morning as leader, with serious questions about the party’s future brewing.
Meanwhile, the result caps a remarkable recent turnaround for Mr Corbyn, who less than a year ago faced an overwhelming vote of no confidence by his own MPs.
After being expected to drive his party to electoral oblivion, he has cemented his hard-left ideology at the top of Labour, and seems certain to keep his position as leader.
Today Mr Corbyn bizarrely claimed, despite being more than 50 seats behind the Tories, that Labour had “won” the poll.
He said: “I think it’s pretty clear who won this election. We’re ready to serve the people who have given their trust to us.”
He added: “We are ready to serve this country. That is what fought the election for.
“And this is the programme we put forward with the election. We are offering to put forward the programme on which we fought the election.”
Nicola Sturgeon has conceded her plans for a second vote on independence were “undoubtedly” a factor as the SNP lost 21 seats from their 2015 performance.
The Scottish First Minister paid tribute to senior nationalists who were ousted from the House of Commons, such as Alex Salmond and deputy leader Angus Robertson in a dramatic night.
She pledged to “reflect carefully” on the result, but was defiant in spite of the loss of other high-profile casualties including John Nicolson, Mike Weir and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.
She insisted her party had won the election in Scotland – returning more MPs than its rivals combined – but added: “It is an inescapable fact that we also suffered some bitterly disappointing losses last night.”
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With turnout set to be the highest since 1997 as young people flocked to the polls, it has given Labour an unexpected boost.
Seats with high numbers of students witnessed queues at polling stations, but early indications showed turnout was up in all parts of the country and was set to beat the 66.4 per cent recorded two years ago.
Results suggested the turnout figure could even rival 1997 – when 71.3 per cent of the country voted.
In Mr Corbyn’s Islington North seat turnout was 73.6 per cent – a sharp increase on the 67.4 per cent two years ago.
And Sunderland also saw a jump in turnout – up 5 per cent from 2015.