The election results are in, and it’s not looking good for Theresa May. The Conservatives have fallen short of an overall majority, resulting in a hung parliament. With the Prime Minister staking her personal reputation on this election result, it’s not a big surprise that the calls have already started for her to stand down. The “strong and stable” message that was central to her campaign has been confounded by the results – the Conservatives have fewer seats than before the election, and it was gains in pro-remain Scotland, rather than a strong performance in England and Wales, that put them ahead in the seat tally.
At her own count in Maidenhead, May gave no indication either way of her personal course of action. She said: “At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability.” Later, the BBC political editor reported that May had “no intention” of standing down:
Break – PM has no intention of resigning – working to form a govt based on being largest party in seats and votes
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) June 9, 2017
The Prime Minister added: “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.”
Speaking after his own re-election in Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn said: “She wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough for her to go.”
Anna Soubry, the outspoken pro-remain Tory MP for Broxtowe, agreed. She blamed Theresa May’s “disastrous campaign” for the Conservatives’ poor result, saying: “She’s a remarkable and very talented woman and she doesn’t shy away from difficult decisions, but she now has to obviously consider her position.”
The former Conservative chancellor George Osborne, who is now the editor of the London Evening Standard, said on ITV: “Clearly if she’s got a worse result than two years ago and is almost unable to form a government then I doubt she will survive in the long term as Conservative Party leader.”
However, not everyone is expecting an immediate Conservative leadership contest. ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, reports that her ministers are urging her not to resign:
I think there’s good chance @theresa_may will not stand down. Ministers urging her not to, citing her 43% share of vote, up from Cam’s 36%
— Robert Peston (@Peston) June 9, 2017
But the leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, has said that it will be “difficult” for Theresa May to “survive”.
DUP leader Arlene Foster: “It will be difficult for [May] to survive given that she was presumed to come back with maybe a hundred majority”
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) 9 juin 2017