British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election three years early in order to cement her position in advance of Brexit negotiations with the EU.
What happened was the exact opposite of what she had hoped.
May’s Conservatives took just 319 seats in Parliament – seven fewer than they would need to secure a working majority and far fewer than the 331 seats they took two years ago.
After losing her Conservative majority, May met with the Queen to ask about forming a new government with support from the right-of-center Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland. With the DUP’s support, May will control 329 seats in Parliament – just enough to govern.
“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,” said May on Friday.
May reiterated the need for certainty and stability, but can she provide it?
The election’s surprising results bring into question whether her Brexit plans will survive, but May has promised there will be no delays in negotiations with the European Union.
Negotiations are scheduled to begin on June 19th. May’s Brexit strategy, in essence, preserves the best elements of bloc membership without many of the burdens.
The tone of negotiations may be affected by the election results, but it doesn’t seem like voters have changed their minds about the divorce.
The results of the election “left her authority in tatters,” reports The Washington Post, and “tipped the scales in favor of her political opponents, including a once-hapless far-let Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.”
Corbyn, whose party claimed an unexpected 261 seats, said the country has “had enough of austerity politics” and demanded that May resign.
“The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate,” said Corbyn. “Well, the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support, and lost confidence.”
Without a majority in Parliament, May’s conservatives will be hard pressed to push through legislation. Many predict she won’t last much longer as Prime Minister.
“I think it will be difficult,” said DUP leader Arlene Foster when asked whether May would be able to maintain her leadership position.
This week’s political upheaval also included the resignation of Paul Nuttall, former leader of the UK Independence Party who pushed strongly for Brexit last year. His party no longer has a seat in Parliament.
Professor Steven Fielding, who teachers politics at Nottingham, calls the situation “unprecedented.”
“If she had got the majority she wanted, she would have been a supreme political colossus,” said Fielding. “She did not get that and she’s a hugely diminished figure. She’s a zombie prime minister.”