Britain’s Theresa May has no intention of giving up the post of prime minister, even though her Conservative Party lost its majority in the House of Commons in Thursday’s general election, UK media reported Friday, citing unnamed sources.
May’s future as leader and head of the party was being openly questioned after her call to hold a snap election backfired. Her Labour Party rival Jeremy Corbyn urged her to step down and declared he was “ready to serve.”
May called the vote in March in the hope of increasing the party’s majority and to give her a stronger hand in negotiations with the European Union over Britain’s exit. However, with nearly all votes counted, the Conservatives have only 315 seats, short of the 326 mark that ensures a majority. Labour, led by Corbyn, did much better than most forecasters predicted, and has 261 seats at last count.
May’s party can no longer win an outright majority in Parliament.
Sky News reported early Friday that Labour held the seat of Southampton Test, guaranteeing that no party will reach the 326 seats necessary for an overall majority in the 650-seat Parliament.
By morning, pressure was mounting on May, including from within her own party.
“This is a very bad moment for the Conservative Party, and we need to take stock,” Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry said. “And our leader needs to take stock as well.”
— ITV News Central (@ITVCentral) June 9, 2017
Even as she was resoundingly reelected to her Maidenhead seat in southern England, May looked tense and did not spell out what she planned to do.
“The country needs a period of stability and whatever the results are, the Conservative Party will ensure we fulfil our duty in ensuring that stability so that we can all, as one country, go forward together,” she said.
Others predicted she would soon be gone.
Former Conservative Treasury chief George Osborne said the result was “catastrophic.”
“Clearly if she’s got a worse result than two years ago and is almost unable to form a government, then she, I doubt, will survive in the long-term as Conservative Party leader,” he said on ITV.
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 9, 2017
Corbyn, meanwhile, said Friday morning that he was “ready to serve” the country, while ruling out potential deals or pacts with other parties in Parliament.
He said Britons had had enough of austerity politics and cuts in public expenditures, and repeated calls for May to resign. She should “go … and make way for a government that is truly representative of all the people of this country,” he said.
“Politics has changed,” he added. “Politics is not going back into the box where it was before.”
Corbyn also said that upcoming discussions over Britain’s exit from the EU have to continue regardless of which party forms the next government.
The result was also bad news for the Scottish National Party, which by early Friday had lost about 20 of its 54 seats. Among the casualties was Alex Salmond, a former first minister of Scotland and one of the party’s highest-profile lawmakers.
The losses complicate the SNP’s plans to push for a new referendum on Scottish independence as Britain prepares to leave the EU.
“Indy Ref 2 is dead in Scotland,” said Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, using a short form for a second independence referendum.
May had hoped the election would focus on Brexit, but that never happened, as both the Conservatives and Labour said they would respect voters’ wishes and go through with the divorce.