Mrs May called a snap election because she was confident of increasing the Conservative majority in the House of Commons. But it's turned out that the Labour Party has made a huge comeback, largely at the expense of UKIP, and this has resulted in a hung Parliament. The outcome is that Mrs May has had to make a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland in order to secure a majority. It seems that we are now likely to be in a political wasteland for some time.
It was the most extraordinary election result in living memory: Mansfield where, in the 1990s, I worked on an economic regeneration programme after the calamitous closure of the coal mines and consequent collapse of the local economy, has been a strong Labour constituency since the early 1920s. It fell to the Conservatives. At the other end of the socio-economic spectrum, Kensington, the richest constituency in Britain, fell to Labour, on a majority of twenty votes after three counts of the ballot papers. Standing on the platform at her own constituency and making her speech after results were announced, the Prime Minister looked tired and emotional. She must have been worried at this stage of the game that she would lose her own constituency.
So what went wrong for Mrs May? This election is likely to be analysed and talked of for some time to come. Fundamentally, far more young people aged 18-24 turned out to vote than in the past - possibly lured by the Labour Party promise to dispense with university tuition fees. And Mr Corbyn turned out to be a surprisingly impassioned and skilful campaigner. Unfortunately, this is an area which is not Mrs May's strong point - she shied away from a television debate, sending a substitute, and the opposition parties made political capital from her absence. And - many, many people are simply fed up with the draconian austerity measures that were put in place for some years ago in an attempt to address the budget deficit. They have impacted badly on public services and, as always, it's the more disadvantaged members of society who have borne the brunt.
Here are the figures-
- There is a total of 650 seats in the House of Commons
- Conservatives + DUP = 328 seats
- Labour - 262 seats
- Libdems - 12 seats
- Scottish National Party - 35 seats
- Others - 13
Here's what happened next -
- Mrs May went to Buckingham Palace at 12.30 p.m to request permission from Her Majesty to form a Government. It's a formality but the Queen has a reputation for asking direct and searching questions of her Prime Ministers - the interview lasted just under half an hour.
- Mrs May returned to 10 Downing Street and made an announcement to the assembled press that the Queen had invited her to form a government.
Now the Conservative Party will have only ten days to write the Queen's Speech before the official opening of Parliament in the House of Lords on the 19th June. At the same time, the Government has to get moving on Brexit negotiations.
The Queen's Speech contains the legislative plans for the coming year. It could be described as a mission statement that incorporates the election manifesto which was the basis of the government's election to office. It is debated in the House of Commons during the following few days. Five days later the House of Commons will vote on the content of the Speech. It's unlikely to be a free vote - unless some Conservative/DUP members defect and refuse to follow the whip the Speech will be passed. If the Speech isn't passed it seems that there will be few options for the Prime Minister and the field is likely to open for Jeremy Corbyn to step in and form a minority Labour government.
To many people, the future path of the UK is looking very rocky and uncertain. Me - I'm tired, having been up for most of the night. But unlike some of the losers, and winners, in this disastrous election, I'm not emotional. "This too shall pass".