UK election aftermath

The UK election is over, resulting in a hung Parliament, about the worst thing that could have happened with Brexit to deal with shortly.

But despite her quest for more power and dumping a snap election on Labour backfiring Theresa May has not mucked around.

The biggest losers, apart from May’s credibility, were UKIP, who lost 108% of the vote. They dropped to just 1.8% and lost their only seat.

Labour increased their share of the vote by 5.5% to 42.4%, while the Conservatives increased their’s by less, 5.5%, but still got the most at 42.4%.

BBC:  May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing

Theresa May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists to guide the UK through crucial Brexit talks.

Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party had the “legitimacy” to govern, despite falling eight seats short of a majority.

In a short statement outside Downing Street after an audience with the Queen, Mrs May said she would join with her DUP “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit.

Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country”.

“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said.

“And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it “lend” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply”.

Later, she said she “obviously wanted a different result” and was “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.

“I’m sorry for all those candidates… who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.

“As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

So for now at least all the speculation and demands that she step down as Conservative leader and Prime Minister were meaningless.

But Labour said they were the “real winners”.

They gained a lot of votes (9.5% up to 40.0%) and some seats (up 29 to 261) but still lost the election. They still have Jeremy Corbyn as leader, hailed as an election hero and it will be difficult to budge him now, but still out of government possibly for the next five years.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn says May ‘underestimated’ voters

Jeremy Corbyn has said Theresa May “underestimated” voters and the Labour Party after the Tories failed to win an overall majority in the election.

He said people had voted “for hope” after his party secured 261 seats in Parliament.

The Labour leader called on Mrs May to resign after the Conservatives were left eight seats short of a majority.

“Your vote for us was a vote for change, a vote for our country and a vote for hope,” he said.

“But she underestimated the Labour Party, and more importantly, she underestimated you.”

He went on to say Theresa May called the general election “in her party’s interests, not in the interests of the country” and thought she could “take your vote for granted”.

To an extent Corbyn is correct, May made a silly decision to call a snap election and campaigned terribly, but Corbyn and Labour are still in opposition for now at least.

Not enough of “the people” chose to ditch May and the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems said Mrs May should be “ashamed” of carrying on.

BBC:  Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says May should go

Theresa May must resign and Brexit negotiations should be put on hold, the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said.

He said talks about leaving the EU should be delayed until the new government sets out its plans to the public.

And he insisted there would be no deal to prop up a Tory government.

“Like David Cameron before her, our Conservative prime minister rolled the dice with the future of our country out of sheer arrogance and vanity,” he said.

“It is simply inconceivable that the prime minister can begin the Brexit negotiations in just two weeks’ time.

“She should consider her future – and then, for once, she should consider the future of our country.”

But it was a mixed election for the Liberal Democrats. They gained 4 seats (now 12) but lost some MPs and votes, dropping half a percent to 7.4%.

Mr Farron’s comments came after a night which saw the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg lose his seat to the Labour Party in Sheffield Hallam, becoming the first major figure to fall in the 2017 election.

But former ministers Vince Cable and Jo Swinson both won back their seats after losing them in 2015.

And Mr Farron kept his seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale, although his majority fell from 8,949 to just 777.

The big question now: Who are the Democratic Union Party?

They won 10 seats, up 2, and 292,316 votes, 0.9% of the total.

Theresa May has said she will form a government with the support of the DUP, though it is not clear what kind of arrangement this will be.

Despite party leader Arlene Foster warning it would be difficult for the prime minister to stay in No 10, discussions are certainly going on behind the scenes.

The party has moved on to the political centre stage but most people will be in the dark about what it stands for.

The DUP website crashed on Friday morning after a surge of interest, and DUP was also one of the most searched terms on Google.

Basically, they are pro-union (not Europe but UK), pro-Brexit and socially conservative.

The party, which returned 10 MPs to Westminster, has garnered a bit of a reputation for its strong and controversial views.

It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion – abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

Mervyn Storey, the party’s former education spokesman, once called for creationism – the belief that human life did not evolve over millions of years but was created by God – to be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

In December, the DUP’s Trevor Clarke was criticised by Sir Elton John after the politician admitted he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until a charity explained the facts to him.

Fairly conservative then, on social issues at least.

Then there’s the party’s historical links to loyalist paramilitaries.

During this general election campaign, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly received the endorsement of the three biggest loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Although the DUP said it did not accept their support, in her acceptance speech, Mrs Little-Pengelly thanked those who came out to vote for her, singling out several loyalist working class areas in Belfast.

The DUP was a wholehearted supporter of Brexit and got heavily involved in the Leave campaign.

After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland becomes an EU frontier and the DUP is not in favour of a so-called hard border. This means no checkpoints or intrusive enforcement.

So no hard border but in the round, the party’s vision of Brexit is a fairly hard one – it was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of UKIP.

The party also wants to leave the EU customs union – their manifesto says there should be “progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world” – and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, ensuring that in future British law is supreme.

One red line is the idea of Northern Ireland being granted some sort of “special status” when Brexit comes to pass – the DUP will not stand for any arrangement that physically sets the region apart from anywhere else in the UK.

Its 2017 manifesto set out its position on Brexit and other issues, including:

  • Further increases to the personal tax allowance – similar to Conservative Party policy
  • Continued rises in the national living wage – similar
  • Renew Trident – similar
  • Revisit terrorism laws – similar
  • Abolish air passenger duty – different from the Conservatives
  • Cut VAT for tourism businesses – different
  • Call for “triple lock” on pensions – different

Its key slogan during the campaign turned out to be rather prescient: “A vote for the DUP team is a vote to send ‘Team Northern Ireland’ to Westminster. It is a team that has real influence”.

It looks like DUP may have real influence now.