May: I won't resign

Despite losses, UK Prime Minister Theresa May insists she won't be stepping down. Will a small Irish party save May's government?

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David Rosenberg,

Theresa May
Theresa May
Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party lost its majority in snap elections Thursday, crushing May’s hope for a parliamentary super-majority.

While polling last month showed the Conservatives with a double digit lead over the Labour Party, and projections of up to 400 of the lower chamber’s 650 seats, the Conservatives lost ground in recent weeks, and on election day, appear to have fallen by at least a dozen seats, losing the narrow majority won in 2015.

Despite the outcome, May was defiant Friday morning, insisting that she would not be stepping down as Prime Minister.

"At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability,” said May.

"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."

With 646 of 650 seats already decided, the Conservatives have secured 315 seats, 11 short of the 326 necessary for a majority. The party is projected to win another three seats, yielding a total of 318 – not enough for an outright majority, but enough to enable May to form a coalition government with another right-of-center party.

As the largest party, the Conservatives will have the first opportunity to form a coalition government, and May is likely to turn to a small regional party from Northern Ireland.

May’s predecessor, Conservative PM David Cameron, was also forced to form a coalition government in 2010, turning to the centrist Liberal Democratic Party to secure a majority for his government.

But if the Conservatives reach the 318 now projected, May will be able to form a narrower government with the Democratic Unionist Party, a right-wing, pro-Brexit, Eurosceptic faction centered in Ulster. The DUP is projected to win 10 seats – not enough to push the Conservatives to a majority if they remain with at 315 seats, but enough if May’s party secures just one more seat.

While a partnership with the Liberal Democrats, who opposed the Brexit, would hamstring May’s efforts for a quick and decisive end to the UK’s membership in the European Union, a coalition with the DUP could revive her efforts to cut ties with the EU.