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May forced into alliance with DUP after election gamble backfires

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Friday 09 Jun 2017

May forced into alliance with DUP after election gamble backfires

(ShareCast News) - UK Prime Minister Theresa May was forced into a governing alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party on Friday after her gamble to crush Labour and deliver a hard Brexit backfired spectacularly when government lost its parliamentary majority.

With 649 of 650 seats counted, the Conservatives were the largest party, but short of the 326 needed to govern in their own right. It was also a far cry of the 100 seat majority predicted by some when May called the snap election seven weeks ago and pledged ad nauseam to bring a "strong and stable" government.

May spent the early hours of Friday talking terms with the DUP, who have 10 seats and will work with May on a vote-by-vote basis known as "confidence and supply".

"What the country needs now more than ever is certainty. Having secured the largest number of votes and greatest number of seats in the general election, it is clear the Conservative and Unionist party has the legitimacy to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons. As we do, we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular," she said outside her residence in Downing Street.

"Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years, and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom."


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party was "ready to serve this country". Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said May "should be ashamed" and resign "if she has an ounce of self respect".

"She called this election expecting a coronation, and took each and every one of us for granted in the most cynical way possible," Farron said., adding that May "put the future of the country at risk with arrogance and vanity".

A clearly shaken May on Thursday night said she would continue as prime minister. Her plan of a coronation crumbling before her, the prime minister has created the very opposite of what she promised. The blunder of calling an election that wasn't needed is compounded by the fact that the UK is meant to start Brexit talks with the EU in just 11 days.

"The country needs a period of stability and, whatever the results are, the Conservative party will fulfil our duty of ensuring that stability so we can all go forward together," she said, her voice audibly cracking.

Labour put in a stunning performance, gaining 30 seats from the 2015 election. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said May should resign. In parliamentary terms the Tories will now have to rely on the 10 seats held by Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to get any legislation through.

"The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she has got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence," Corbyn said.

"I would have thought that's enough to go, actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all the people of this country."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would seek to form a minority government because the Conservatives were not "stable".

"I don't want to be derogatory but I think she's a lame duck prime minister, I can't see her surviving. And a number of Conservative MPs are already privately saying that her position is untenable," he told the BBC.

McDonnell said May's rivals such as Boris Johnson and David Davis were "on manoeuvres" for a leadership election.

"So I can't see them holding together. If they do seek to do a coalition with the DUP... well, pardon the expression but someone used it during the campaign, it is a coalition of chaos," he added, in a jibe at May's description of what a Labour win would bring.


In Scotland, the Scottish National Party suffered reverses from its spectacular achievement in 2015, losing its Westminster leader Angus Robertson and former leader Alex Salmond. The SNP looked set to finish with 34 seats, a loss of 22 but enough to combine with other opposition parties to make life difficult for the Tories.

However, in Scotland-specific terms the loss of seats also appeared to be a rejection of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's desire to hold a second referendum on independence.

May will also be hobbled in her efforts to deliver a tough exit from the European Union as "remainers", who have a majority across all parties within parliament, hold her feet to the fire during negotiations.

Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University said the movement of those in favour of staying in the EU and young voters towards Labour "explains why the Conservatives have lost their overall majority".

"The effect of this movement has been to counteract the clear evidence that the Conservative Party benefited most from the sharp decline in UKIP support from 13% to 2%," he told the BBC.

"Where UKIP was strongest in 2015 - and where consequently their vote fell most this time around - there was a small net swing to the Conservatives, whereas where UKIP were previously weakest there was a 7% swing to Labour."

May will now have to appear before the Conservative Party's right-wing 1922 Committee, a group of influential MPs, to explain how she miscalculated the mood of the country so badly. Her campaign adviser Lynton Crosby, famed for his "dog whistle" tactics, will also come under scrutiny.

Stage-managed campaign events, where small numbers of Tory supporters were transported in and photographed to look larger in number, a humiliating reverse on social care before the ink was even dry on the policy and a refusal to participate in public debate with other leaders all ultimately hurt May.

Several Conservative ministers lost their seats. Ben Gummer, who helped author the Tories costing-free manifesto, was defeated in Ipswich, housing minister Gavin Barwell lost in Croydon Central and a 10% swing to Labour saw off Treasury Secretary Jane Ellison's 8,000 majority in Battersea. Home Secretary Amber Rudd clung on by 326 votes in Hastings and Rye.

For the Liberal Democrats, former deputy prime minister and party leader Nick Clegg lost his Sheffield Hallam seat to Labour, completing his fall from Grace. However, former LibDem ministers Vince Cable and Jo Swinson made a return to Westminster after losing their seats in 2015.


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