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UK election: Hung parliament as Conservatives fall short of majority

Theresa May's leadership under pressure but, at her first post-election press conference, she says she's not resigning.

Nevil Gibson and Nathan Smith
Fri, 09 Jun 2017

UPDATE 6pm: With results declared in 645 of 650 electorates, no UK political party can reach the threshold of 326 seats to rule with a majority.

Theresa May’s Conservative Party is still projected to secure 318 seats but presently has 313. Labour has 258 seats, while the Scottish National Party has 34 and the Liberal Democrats have 13 seats.

Mrs May’s gamble in April has lost her party about 20 seats, weakening its position of power in the House of Commons and losing the party’s majority just before the critical Brexit negotiations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged Mrs May to resign, and a senior Tory source has told the BBC it is “50/50” whether she will remain as their leader.

"At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability," Mrs May says. At her first post-election press conference, she said she would not resign.

"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."

A total of 650 Westminster MPs were elected, with about 45.8 million people entitled to vote.

Final election results are expected by lunchtime Friday UK time.

The polls have closed in the UK general election with the Conservatives showing a projected 318 seats, eight short of a majority.

According to the BBC, Labour would hold 267 seats. Officially, a party needs to win 326 seats to gain a majority in the House of Commons. However, the figure is actually closer to 323 due to several elected members who do not vote or take their seats, including the Speaker.

Former Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has lost his seat to Labour’s Jarod O’Mara. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has led his party to gain more than 30 seats than in the 2015 elections.

Should the Conservatives fall short of the majority, it will need to forge a coalition government. Its natural partner is the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which may provide eight or nine seats. The centrist Liberal Democrats would be another option, presently projected to win between four and six seats.

To win it over, Theresa May’s party will compete with the Scottish National Party, which shares many of the Liberal Democrats' progressive ideals. Allying with the group, however, is politically risky for British parties, as that probably would require concessions toward Scotland's threatened second independence referendum.

The Labour Party has ruled out the Scottish National Party as a coalition partner. It is also unlikely to form a coalition with the Conservatives, given their long-standing rivalry. Should the parties fail to reach a workable compromise, new elections could occur.

The Guardian is reporting the Conservatives could already be considering replacing Theresa May as the leader, although the members have not yet confirmed this. The Conservatives have a history of replacing leaders after risky moves such as snap elections do not result in increased power.

The Labour Party could also create a majority in Parliament. Although this is highly improbable, considering the rapid changes in the vote counts, it can't be ruled out.

Both Labour and the Conservatives wish to negotiate with the EU on the Brexit discussions to leave the common market but the two parties have differing methods to achieve this.

Mrs May’s party hopes to leave the customs union and single market altogether, while Labour wishes to depart the single market and perhaps hold onto the customs union, although their position is unclear.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats want to stay in the customs union and organise a second referendum on the Brexit decision.

Without a majority, the Conservatives will need to listen to opposition parties during the negotiations and a hung parliament would force the UK to soften its stance on Brexit.

Falling in polls

UK exit polls show Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives likely to have fallen 12 seats short of an overall majority.

Published at 10pm UK time, the poll predicts the Conservatives will win 316 seats, which is down 17 seats, while the Labour party has earned 266 seats, up 34 seats.

Mrs May’s party needs 326 seats to govern alone.

The balance is split between the Scottish National Party, which is projected to take 34 seats, the Liberal Democrats with 14 seats and the Greens and Welsh party Plaid Cymru with one seat each.

The situation could lead to a hung parliament in which the Conservatives build a coalition to reach the threshold. The last time there was a hung parliament was in 2010 when the Conservatives won the most votes but not a majority.

Polling companies had predicted a Conservative majority when Mrs May called the snap election. 

The full results are expected in the early hours of Friday morning UK time.

Polls closing
The first results from the UK general election are expected around 10am NZ time, an hour after polling stations close for 650 seats in the House of Commons.

Previous Parliament: Conservatives 330, Labour 232, Scottish National Party 56, Liberal Democrat 8. Plaid Cymru 3, Ulster Unionist 2, UKIP 1, Green 1,

A survey of the 12 British public opinion polls shows a late swing back to the Conservatives, giving them a 6.5 percentage points lead over Labour (43%-36.5%). But, as the UK has a first-past-the post voting system, the important factor will be the swing to one party or the other.

The Conservatives are targeting 28 seats in the North East and North West of England that Labour or the Lib-Dems hold by fewer than 10,000 votes.

Seats in Scotland could change, with the SNP losing up to three seats. Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk (Lib-Dems) is on the Tory hit list.

Seats to watch:

Chester – held by Labour by fewer than 500 votes. 

Wirral West, Barrow & Furness and Lancaster & Fleetwood – require swings of swings of less than 2%.

Darlington, Middlesbrough South and Hartlepool – targets in the North East.

Halifax, Stoke-on-Trent North, Workington – among the 58 Labour seats held with a majority of less than 9000 that voted heavily for Brexit. Of these, 37 are in the North or the Midlands with a further seven in Wales. Ilford North, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Wolverhampton South West, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Dewsbury, Wrexham, Derbyshire North East and Walsall North all have Labour majorities of less than 2000.

Further south are Ealing Central & Acton, Brentford & Isleworth, also with small Labour majorities.

Labour targets

Gower, Derby North, Croydon Central Vale of Clywd, Bury North – Conservatives hold these with fewer than 400 votes.

Conservatives could lose strong Remain seats formerly held by Lib-Dems: Lewes (Theresa May), Twickenham, Kingston & Surbiton, Bath.

Lib-Dems targets: 

Cambridge (Lab), Eastbourne, Thornbury & Yate.

Nevil Gibson and Nathan Smith
Fri, 09 Jun 2017
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UK election: Hung parliament as Conservatives fall short of majority